Today in London, Europe’s first ever international data camp began with the UK’s Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, announcing that we are opening up data on central government spending. As part of its ongoing drive to make government more accountable and more transparent than ever before, all central government bodies are publishing details of their spending over £25,000 for the last six months.
The publication of this spending data is a huge stride forward for government openness. This new information provides an unparalleled insight into where government spends money and gives people the information they need to be able to hold Government to account. This Government believes that greater transparency is essential to enable the public to hold politicians and public bodies to account, to deliver better value for money in public spending and to realise significant economic benefits through enabling businesses and non-profit organisations to build innovative applications and websites using public data.
Today’s release builds on the progress we have made in publishing a huge amount of government data over the past 6 months, including:
- COINS spending data (HM Treasury’s ‘Combined Online Information System’–a database also used to track central Government’s spending);
As the Minister emphasised, this is just the start. From now on, all of this information will be published on a regular basis by departments. Through the draft information strategies published in our Business Plans, departments have also set out what further information they will make available to the public, and by when. There are more radical reforms to come, including:
- the publication of local government data in January 2011 along the same lines as today’s information;
- the launch of ‘street-level’ crime data, to provide the public with detailed information about crime in their neighbourhoods in January 2011;
- the introduction of a Right to Data, giving the public access to datasets they request by March 2011.
The programme of government data release is very much a work in progress with the result that some dataisn’t fully comprehensive across Government nor as detailed as we would wish. In future, we want to do this for all departments, but before we can make this happen we need to review and think about how to reform the various processes and systems within organisations to produce more consistent data.
We are starting that process now, and will work as quickly as possible in the coming months to ensure that we clearly and publicly account for where departments spend your money by publishing as much information about spending decisions as we feasibly can.
Tell us what you think.