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The work of the government data programme

We have formed a new data group in GDS to support a cross-Government Data Programme. The aim of this is to transform how government uses data to drive benefits to citizens: supporting better decision making, digital services, opening data to those outside, and with common policies and standards.


There will be three elements to this work, mirrored in how we will organise ourselves in GDS:

  1. Making use of data for public benefit - targeting data science and open data on priority challenges, and increasing data literacy amongst non-specialists. The Office of National Statistics will take the lead developing specialist data science skills throughout the analytical professions
  2. Modernising data infrastructure - supporting the creation of a modern, networked data infrastructure across government, where core data is held in canonical registers and accessed across government through APIs using common standards. This will make data - where appropriate - more easily discovered and used across departments for analysis, operations and the creation of digital services. Continuing existing work on the National Information Infrastructure, it will enable the next wave of open data reform where data publication is hardwired into the digital infrastructure of government
  3. Data policy and governance - supporting a new Data Leaders Network and steering group, and developing some common standards and policies. We will continue to review the legislation on data sharing and wider policies about how data is accessed and shared, and help support our approach on international open data policy and open government

Although we are supporting this programme from the team at the centre of Whitehall, this is a collective endeavour, where many of the users and those responsible for making change happen are the operational, policy, digital and analyst teams across government. There is a good precedent for such collaborative work - for more than a year we have worked closely on the Government Data Science Partnership with Chief Statistician John Pullinger and his ONS team including Bill Oates and Heather Savory, and with Sir Mark Walport’s Government Office of Science. We are also shamelessly stealing the successful cross-government governance seen in the Digital Leaders and Technology Leaders networks.

We are also conscious that the world of data does not stop neatly at administrative borders: our work will need to speak across to Local Authorities, the NHS and the devolved administrations. And there are of course many other data users, businesses, campaigners and advocates whose voice and insight we will continue to seek and rely on.

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  1. Comment by William at Mydex posted on

    Paul where are you on plans for personal control over personal data? When I read the points you make I want also to hear data for individual benefit; a data infrastructure where data is held in personal data stores under the control of the individual; data sharing made explicitly lawful with the auditable informed consent of the individual.

    Forgive me for saying, but this does sound an awfully organisation-centric approach. A person-centric apprach helps with agency, choice, empowerment, personalisation, better curation and stewardship, data protection and privacy.

    Doesn't the world of personal data begins and ends with the individual?