t: 020 7219 8155 e: fieldm@parliament.uk

Public Sector Information

December 14, 2009

Question written on 14/12/2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what the terms of reference are for his Department’s Making Public Data Public initiative; and if he will make a statement.

Answered by Stephen Timms

The terms of reference for the initiative led by Sir Tim Berners-Lee OM and Professor Nigel Shadbolt are as follows:

In the last two years the Government’s work on the Power of Information has shown how the information revolution has the potential to transform Government and public services.

The Government have accepted all of the recommendations of the Power of Information Taskforce to open up access to Government information for free re-use.

In particular, and linked to its wider programme of Public Service Reform, the Government are committed to implementing and to extending to the wider public sector the principle that public sector information should be available under straightforward licences and in standard formats for others to re-use: the principle that public sector information should be public.

In the next six months, Sir Tim Berners-Lee will serve in an advisory capacity to the Minister for the Cabinet Office, and he will work with Professor Nigel Shadbolt to form a panel of technical and delivery experts to oversee the rapid implementation of key recommendations, including:

(1) Overseeing the creation of a single online point of access for all public UK datasets-and work with departments to make this part of their routine operations-with a live Beta site running by the end of the year.

(2) Bringing forward specific proposals to implement and extend to the wider public sector the public sector information principle, including:

helping to select and implement common standards for the release of public data

helping to select, develop and implement common terms for that data where necessary

developing Crown Copyright and ‘Crown Commons’ licenses and extending these to the wider public sector

supporting the exploitation and publication of distributed and decentralised information assets

looking at the potential for reform of the information regulatory framework, working with the ICO and other experts to ensure that the regulatory regime supports the proactive publication of Government information

(3) Driving the use of the internet to improve Government consultation processes as proposed by the Taskforce and learning from the innovations already used by DIUS, the Cabinet Office and others.

Other key areas in which Sir Tim Berners-Lee will advise the Government include:

(4) Working with the Government to engage with the leading experts internationally working on public data and standards, and to promote international liaison and global standards setting-an investment in future international data sharing.

(5) Helping to drive culture change in Whitehall toward an assumption of total publication for anonymous data using open standards.

The panel will work closely with the recently-appointed Director for Digital Engagement and other officials in the Cabinet Office, the Office for Public Sector Information (part of The National Archives), and the Technology Strategy Board.