Government Response to Shakespeare Review

June 18, 2013

Open data, data protection and FOI are just some of the areas which will be affected by the wide range of Government commitments contained in its detailed response to the Shakespeare Review of Public Sector Information. The full response, available as a pdf or ODT file, is available here.

The Shakespeare Review was launched in October 2012 by Stephan Shakespeare, Chair of the Data Strategy Board and CEO of YouGov, who was asked by the Government to look at its progress on opening up public data and to set out his assessment of how the Government should best use PSI to support economic growth. His report was published on 15 May 2013. The Review of PSI included a large number of recommendations.

The Ministerial Foreword sets out the relevant achievements of the Government to date and continues with a list of ‘forthcoming attractions’:

‘Central to the Government’s response to the Shakespeare Review is our determination to take the release of open data to the next level, to provide a comprehensive and open plan to release data prioritised on the drive for technology-led economic growth. We will:

–        Set out how we will strengthen our strategy through the Information Economy Strategy and the UK OGP National Action Plan to be published in October 2013;

–        Define what should be included as core data through consultation with both data users and data controllers. The plan to release core departmental data will complement the existing process whereby data businesses and others can request particular data, and government can recommend the urgent release of transformational data sets;

–        Set a new ambition for this core departmental data to be released by 2015, underpinned by secondary legislation and agreements reached at an international level via the G8, ensuring the UK’s continued world leadership on open data;

–        Feed the plan for release of core data into revised Departmental Open Data Strategies alongside the UK OGP National Action Plan in October, giving data businesses clarity about the timetable for release of data, and a confidence in the timeliness and quality of that data;

–        Set a clear priority for open data release to underpin economic growth, and for streamlined internal governance that gives a stronger voice to data businesses large and small;

–        Continue to assess options to increase the efficiency and economic value of the PDG Trading Funds and remove unnecessary licensing restrictions;

–        Continue to protect the confidentiality of citizens’ personal information; and

–        Undertake a review of Governance arrangements to open up PSI. To begin with, and in recognition of Stephan’s analysis that this agenda needs a high-level focus, our first step is to create a board from the Data Strategy Board and Public Sector Transparency Board to lead delivery on opening up PSI.   

Alongside this today we have:

–        Welcomed the imminent publication of G8 open data proposals that set out principles, actions, and deadlines to widen the international market available to British data businesses. The UK G8 Presidency has  transparency at the heart of global attempts to tackle corruption and improve accountability in the developed and developing world;

–        Published the cross-Government Information Economy Strategy, developed in partnership with industry and academia, to help the UK’s thriving information economy sector accelerate in the global race, focusing on our strengths;

–        The Charity Commission has announced plans to make data from the public register of charities freely available to download and use by the end of March 2014;

–        Announced a call to arms for open data in Local Government, with a local section of, case studies of best practice, with a revised Transparency Code for Local Authorities expected shortly;

–        Committed that HMRC will consult over the summer on options for making some of the data that it holds more widely available to support the Government’s transparency and growth objectives, such as improving access to credit for business.  The consultation will include options for the wider sharing of aggregated or anonymised data and the release of some VAT registration information (not including financial data) as open data;

–        Published the Government Response to the Administrative Data Taskforce report, in which the Government agrees that it will work with the research community to develop the capacity and infrastructure to complement the Open Data Agenda by facilitating secure access for research and statistical purposes to de-identified administrative data that can’t be made open; and

–        Recognising the continued importance of the Postcode Address File (PAF) to private sector growth and the efficient running the public sector, we have agreed with Royal Mail that they will provide the PAF for free to independent micro-businesses for one year and to and independent small charitable organisations.  Royal Mail will consult in July on a radical simplification of the licensing regime for all users. 

We are determined the UK continues to be the world leader in opening up government data and our response sets out our ambitious plans to achieve this aim. This document sets out the Government’s response, and we are delighted to accept in full or part all of Stephan’s detailed recommendations.’ 

SCL members will no doubt need little prompting to see that the words ‘or part’ are a critical ingredient in the Government acceptance of Stephan Shakespeare’s recommendations.

The Annex to the response, with detailed commitments and targets for achieving them, is of particular importance.