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Government Departments: Databases

Cabinet Office written question – answered on 2nd November 2011.

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Photo of Jonathan Evans Jonathan Evans Conservative, Cardiff North

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what assessment he has made of the effect of the Open Data project; what account he will take of this assessment in determining the future of the project; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Francis Maude Francis Maude The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

Transparency is a new way of operating in Government. Central and local government and wider public services have been made more accountable to the public, aided, by the release of over 7,500 datasets (including over 800 geographical linked datasets) via These datasets have enabled the public to view and track instances of crime in their area with having received hundreds of millions of hits since its launch; scrutinise Ministers' expenses, and; interrogate central and local government contracts. Originally targeted at technical experts and software developers, we are reviewing and repackaging so that it can serve the general public more directly, as well as meet the needs of developers.

The Government launched the Open Data consultation, “Making Open Data Real”, on 4 August. This included an assessment of the positive effects of Open Data, demonstrating that it can have a transformative effect on public services; improving outcomes and productivity through informed comparison; driving dynamic economic growth; enabling accountability, and transforming social relationships through empowering individuals and communities. The consultation and the forthcoming White Paper represent the next phase of the Transparency agenda, moving away from a simple accountability model, towards embedding openness and transparency as core operating principles of public services. The White Paper will contain a full impact assessment of policy proposals and the benefits of Open Data.

The Transparency Team in the Cabinet Office is currently leading on an Open Data work stream within the second phase of the Government's growth review, to be released alongside the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s autumn statement on 29 November. In this, the Government will set out Open Data's potential to drive economic growth in the UK economy.

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