Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, has won this year’s “Better information from government” award from top UK companies for the progress he has made in making government data, such as that on crime, schools and public spending, more transparent.
Members of the Demographics User Group, which represents major companies including Barclays, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s, presented the award to Francis Maude at their annual conference at the Royal Society on Wednesday 12 October.
Since May 2010, the Government has begun to publish new data including crime maps and data on government structures and spending. The Government has also has committed to publishing regular new key data on GP practices, hospitals, schools, transport and criminal justice over the coming months.
Francis Maude said:
I am delighted to accept this award. Under this government we have made huge strides towards our ambition to be the most transparent government in the world. We have committed to regularly publishing information which will better inform the public about how services are run, enable them to choose services accordingly and grow the economy, as the marketplace for this information flourishes.
“It’s a brave government which commits to publishing information which uncovers its own performance, but that’s what we have done and this is just the start. We will go on to identify more data which has potential value to the public and business.
Keith Dugmore, Director of DUG, said:
Commercial companies have been making the case for better access to government datasets for more than a decade. Public pressure has grown, but it is vital to have strong ministerial direction to make progress. Francis Maude is giving this, vigorously promoting both better access to existing government data, and also the exploration of new sources which would make another traditional Census unnecessary. Members of the Demographics User Group (DUG) strongly welcome these developments, which will increase the efficiency of services to their customers, and fuel innovation.
The Cabinet Office is currently consulting the public on ‘Making Open Data Real’. The public consultation invites views on how we can best embed a culture of openness and transparency in our public services. It asks for opinions on important issues such as public right to data, usability and accuracy, and whether transparency has sufficient senior leadership support in public sector organisations. The consultation closes on 27 October 2011.
The consultation process itself however doesn’t convince well respected pioneer and campaigner for Open Data, Chris Taggart who shared his views on his recent blog post,
This is both rather shocking, and shameful, and for me means there’s only one viable option if the UK is serious about open data: to send the whole PDC concept back to the drawing board, and this time to come up with a solution that is focused not on civil servants’ narrow personal interests, but on building a ‘more open, more fair and more prosperous‘ society (to quote the Chancellor).
Along with alleged motives,
As I feared back when it was first announced, the proposed UK Public Data Corporation has got nothing to do with open data, and everything to do with protecting the interests of a few civil servants, turning back the open data clock to the dark ages of derived data and privileged access for the few.
- DUG’s 15 member companies are: Barclays, Boots, Camelot, Co-operative Group, E.ON, Everything Everywhere, GlaxoSmithKline, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Nationwide, Sainsbury’s, Serco, Tesco, The Children’s Mutual, Whitbread.
- Since the Prime Minister’s first letter on transparency on 31 May 2010, the number of data sets published through the Government’s data website data.gov.uk has doubled to more than 7,000 – including:
- Crime data published at a level that allows the public to see what is happening on their streets.
- Historic COINS spending data published online.
- New central government ICT contracts published online.
- New central government tender documents for contracts over £10,000 published on a single website, with this information made available to the public free of charge.
- New items of central government spending over £25,000 published online.
- New central government contracts published in full.
- Full information on all DFID international development projects over £500 published online.
- New items of local government spending over £500 published on a council-by-council basis.
- New local government contracts and tender documents for expenditure over £500 published in full.
- Names, grades, job titles and annual pay rates for the most Senior Civil Servants and NDPB officials.
- Organograms for central government departments and agencies that include all staff published online in a common format.
The Prime Minister’s second letter to Cabinet on transparency of 6 July 2011 commits to publishing the new data sets over the year, including:
- Data on comparative clinical outcomes of GP practices in England.
- Prescribing data by GP practice.
- Complaints data by NHS hospital.
- Clinical audit data, detailing the performance of publicly funded clinical teams in treating key healthcare conditions.
- Data on staff satisfaction and engagement by NHS provider.
- Data on the quality of post-graduate medical education by provider from April 2012.
Education & Skills
- Data enabling parents to see how effective their school is at teaching high, average and low attaining pupils across a range of subjects.
- Opening up access to anonymised data from the National Pupil Database to help parents and pupils to monitor the performance of their schools in depth.
- Bringing together for the first time school spending data, school performance data, pupil cohort data and Ofsted judgements, from in a parent-friendly portal, searchable by postcode.
- Data on attainment of students eligible for pupil premium.
- Data on apprenticeships paid for by HM Government, by organisation and by success rate.
- Sentencing data by court, enabling the public to see exactly what sentences are being handed down in their local courts, and compare different courts on a wide range of measures.
- Data on performance of probation services and prisons including re-offending rates by offender and institution.
- The national crime mapping website, Police.uk, will provide the public with information on what happens next for crime occurring on their streets, i.e. police action and justice outcomes.
- Data on current and future roadworks on the Strategic Road Network.
- All remaining Government-owned free datsets from Transport Direct, including cycle route data and the national car park database for free re-use.
- Real time data on the Strategic Road Network including incidents, speeds and congestion.
- Office of Rail Regulator to increase the amount of data published relating to service performance and complaints.
- Rail timetable information to be published weekly by National Rail.
All of the new datasets will be published in an open standardised format so they can be freely re-used under the Open Government Licence by third parties.
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