We're turning Britain into the most open and transparent and country on earth. Here's how you can benefit too

The Cabinet Secretary on the motivation behind Whitehall's data crusade

Share
Related Topics

For as many years as Britain has had a centralised civil service we have been rather good at collecting information.

From the first censuses in 1801 to the creation of the Central Statistical Office by Winston Churchill, the amount of information gathered and held by Government has exponentially increased as our society has become more complex. Today we hold  raw information on everything from pupil performance by class, crime levels on every street in the country and the success rate for every single operation in your local hospital. We can even tell at the touch of a button how late your train into work is likely to be.

Change

But while we’ve been steadily improving the way we collect data, if we’re honest, historically the civil service has been less good at releasing it to the people who most need it and can make most use of it: the public. That is changing. Over the last two years alone nearly 9,000 sets of data have been released on subjects including health, transport, justice and education. All of this information, which is anonymous, can be used to understand issues of importance to the public and fashioned into innovative data-driven new businesses that will provide a service to the public and boost economic growth.

But which data is it best to release? A process is now in place to decide and put more power in the hands of users. The Open Data User Group, made up of members of the data community, and drawing on suggestions from business, academia and the general public, recently made its first recommendations to the Data Strategy Board for open data that should be prioritised for release.

Data releases won’t always be comfortable for the civil service or government – but that is rather the point of transparency, giving people the information they need to make choices about their lives and highlighting areas where the public sector is under-performing. Eventually the raw data we release will allow the public to assess how well their local school, their local hospital, council and police force are doing and provide a powerful incentive for improvement.

Put simply Government’s aspiration is to make Britain the most open, transparent country in the world. Handled correctly this will be a tremendous force for good. It is essential we take the opportunity to deliver a more open and transparent civil service, whether sharing information or developing policy. Within the service we have some of Britain’s foremost experts on the biggest issues the country faces, but we don’t have all the experts.

Leadership

But this transparency agenda does not stop at our borders. The Open Government Partnership (OGP) met in London for the first time this week, with Francis Maude representing the UK as the lead co-chair. Mary Robinson, Mo Ibrahim and Graca Machel were confirmed to the International Expert Panel that will advise the partnership.

Since its establishment as a global movement the OGP has grown from 8 founding members to 58 governments now committed to delivering greater openness and accountability in their countries. Transparency makes for better Government and the British Government is determined to retain our global leadership. We are pushing that agenda both nationally and internationally.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Telesales Executive - OTE £30,000

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This precious metal refining co...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Conveyancing Fee Earner

£20000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Conveyancing Fee Earne...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - £40,000 - £70,000 OTE

£40000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Case Handler - Probate

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Yorkshire Terrier waits to be judged during the Toy and Utility day of the Crufts dog show at the NEC in Birmingham  

There are no winners at Crufts. Dogs deserve better than to suffer and die for a 'beauty' pageant

Mimi Bekhechi
 

Daily catch-up: how come Ed Miliband’s tuition fee ‘cut’ is so popular, then?

John Rentoul
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn