Cameron sets transparency standards
01 June 2010
Prime Minister David Cameron has written to his Cabinet colleagues ordering them to step-up their transparency efforts, with more data published online a key factor.
Cameron said publishing more data online will increase transparency, help reduce the deficit and deliver better value for money for the public sector.
He has therefore set deadlines for key datasets to be published online over the next six months.
The biggest change will see the government's COINS database published online in June. This details all central and local government spending.
In addition, Cameron has called for:
• all new central government ICT contracts to be published online from July 2010
• all new central government tender documents for contracts over £10,000 to be published on a single website from September 2010, with this information to be made available to the public free of charge
• new items of central government spending over £25,000 to be published online from November 2010
• all new central government contracts to be published in full from January 2011
• all UK international development spending over £25,000 to be published online from January 2011.
For local government, the PM has ordered all new items of local government spending over £500 to be published and new local government contracts and tenders over £500 to be published in full from January 2011.
Crime data that allows the public to see what is happening at a street level will also be published from January 2011.
"Given the importance of this agenda, the Deputy Prime Minister and I would be grateful if departments would take immediate action to meet this timetable for data transparency, and to ensure that any data published is made available in an open format so that it can be re-used by third parties. From July 2010, government departments and agencies should ensure that any information published includes the underlying data in an open standardised format," Cameron said.
"Of course, the release of the datasets specified in the Coalition Programme is just the beginning of the transparency process. In advance of introducing any necessary legislation to effect our Right to Data proposals, public requests to departments for the release of government datasets should be handled in line with the principles underpinning those proposals: a presumption in favour of transparency, with all published data licensed for free reuse."
To oversee the transparency initiative and to aid in developing open data standards, the PM said a Public Sector Transparency Board will be established in the Cabinet Office. The board will be chaired by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude. Members will include a mix of external experts, data users and public sector data specialists, including MySociety's Tom Steinberg.