Information Management In Public Services

Cabinet Office to improve transparency

Gill Hitchcock Published 09 November 2012

PAC report on transparency of government data accepted by Cabinet Office

 

The Cabinet Office has accepted all the recommendations in the public accounts committee's report on the transparency agenda.

The document, Implementing the Transparency Agenda , which was published on 1 August 2012, says that the Cabinet Office should ensure the following:

Departments should specify what information will be released, and that it is adequate to meet stated transparency objectives.

The publication of government data is accessible and easily understood by all. Where government wants to encourage user choice, there are clear criteria to determine whether government should repackage information to promote public use, or whether this should be done by third parties.

It sets out policies and guidance for public bodies, in order to build full information requirements into their contractual agreements in a consistent way.

It works with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to establish whether the economic benefits from making traded data freely available would outweigh the revenue lost.

The influential PAC found that too much government data is poorly presented and difficult for outsiders to interpret.

Four out of five people who visit the data.gov.uk website leave it immediately without accessing links to data, according to the committee.

In adult social care and other parts of the public sector, there are big gaps in the information provided so that people cannot use it to make informed choices.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: "We have put transparency at the heart of this government, which is the most transparent in British history.

"We also believe passionately in the power of open data to drive improvements in public services by informing choice, to act as a fuel for innovation and growth, and to give citizens, the media and civil society the information to hold governments to account.

"We welcome the committee's recognition of the progress we have made on the transparency agenda, and agree with all their recommendations to move it forward."

 

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