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UK National Audit Office: Implementing Transparency, Executive Summary

UK National Audit Office: Implementing Transparency, Executive Summary

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Published by ePSI Platform
Better access to public information can improve accountability and service delivery. Government needs a firm grasp of whether that potential is being realised.
Better access to public information can improve accountability and service delivery. Government needs a firm grasp of whether that potential is being realised.

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Published by: ePSI Platform on Apr 19, 2012
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Cross-government review
Implementing transparency
REPORT BY THECOMPTROLLER AND AUDITOR GENERAL
HC 1833SESSION 2010–201218 APRIL 2012
 
Implementing transparency
Summary
 
5
Summary
Introduction and purpose o report
1
Successive governments have promoted transparency by developing legislationand routinely releasing more inormation to the public. The transparency agenda isa pledge by the Coalition Government to make government more open. The policycommitment has been taken orward through three major announcements. The frsttwo were communicated through prime ministerial letters to government departmentsin May 2010 and Secretaries o State in July 2011. Additional commitments wereannounced as part o the Chancellor’s
 Autumn Statement 2011
, in November 2011.Initial data releases related primarily to accountability or use o resources, with laterannouncements designed to support service improvement and economic growth. The Government’s objectives or transparency are to:
•
strengthen public accountability;
•
support public service improvement by generating more comparative data andincreasing user choice; and
•
stimulate wider economic growth by helping third parties to develop products andservices based on public sector inormation.
2
Good quality inormation is crucial to eective management. Public disclosure o that inormation has the potential to improve accountability and support public serviceimprovement and economic growth. Gaining value rom inormation, however, requiresits scope, quality and presentation to be matched to the purposes and circumstanceso its use. This report reviews early implementation o the transparency initiatives set outin the prime ministerial letters, and considers arrangements in place to judge value ormoney, to establish key lessons that the Government should address:
•
Part One introduces the background and sets out how transparency is governed.
•
Part Two considers the progress o implementation to date.
•
Part Three reviews how transparency aligns with choice and accountability.
•
Part Four considers the economic growth potential o transparency.
 
6
 
Summary
Implementing transparency
Key fndings
Governance
3
The Cabinet Ofce plays the lead role in promoting transparency acrossgovernment.
It is responsible or coordinating and monitoring implementation,secretariat support to a Public Sector Transparency Board, bringing together ofcialsto embed transparency across government, and providing guidance on some o thereleases required o all government departments. Many other bodies also play signifcantroles in implementing transparency, including other departments who are responsible ortheir own data releases, The National Archives, the Inormation Commissioner’s Ofceand bodies in the wider public sector.
4
Governance arrangements have secured coordinated action, but havenot yet ocused on achieving value or money.
The transparency agenda underthis Government began as a coalition pledge with associated actions required o alldepartments to implement the policy: the Cabinet Ofce did not prepare an overallpolicy impact assessment at the outset. As the scope o the transparency agenda hasdeveloped, the Cabinet Ofce has published examples o the benefts o public datainitiatives to support the strategic case or transparency, or example on its Open orBusiness website, but has not yet systematically assessed the costs and benefts o the Government’s specifc transparency initiatives. The Government announced inthe
 Autumn Statement 2011
the creation o an Open Data Institute. Early plans or theInstitute include a role to develop a uller evidence base on the economic and publicservice benefts o open data.
Progress o implementation
5
The Cabinet Ofce, in partnership with departments, has signifcantlyincreased the amount and type o public sector inormation released and meta high proportion o its commitments.
Twenty-three out o twenty-fve commitmentsor central government in the Prime Minister’s letters due by December 2011 hadbeen met. The www.data.gov.uk website, launched by the previous Government inJanuary 2010, indexes public data releases. The number o data sets catalogued withinwww.data.gov.uk has grown rom 2,500 in January 2010 to 7,865 in December 2011.
6
To date, compliance with transparency good practices has been mixed.
  The advisory Transparency Board developed a drat set o public data principles, whichoutline good practice or releasing and presenting inormation. Compliance with someprinciples is strong. Most o the data releases on www.data.gov.uk are openly availableor re-use, with 86 per cent published under the Open Government Licence andthree-quarters in ormats whereby data can easily be reprocessed. However, in otherareas there has been less progress. For example, the Cabinet Ofce has not yet defnedhow departments should prepare and disclose data inventories to acilitate wider use.

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