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Report of the Digital Government Review


Asking what people need: pockets of success

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The Government has created an Open Data User Group (ODUG) [39] to provide a voice for the users of open data during open data release processes. ODUG works with the open data community and provides consolidated views before government makes decisions on open data priorities. Individuals and organisations can also make their own submissions.

The Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) [40] has been created within the National Archives to set public sector information policy standards. Requests can also be made through this route.

There are few equivalents in local government or other public sector bodies. The Local Government Association runs incentive schemes [41] to encourage open data releases but otherwise people have to navigate the process of a particular organisation to find how and to whom they can state their needs.

None of these routes provide any guarantees of on-going, long term or consistent access to data.

We therefore end up with pockets of success, typically where there is both an active open data community and the public sector organisation has an individual who has engaged with the benefits of open data, but where most of the public sector is still failing to fully engage with open data other than when top-down directives (such as the release of spending data, or our own suggestion of performance data) occurs.

In essence, open data is currently seen as an adjunct to the core function of government rather than one that is driven by people’s needs.

This leads to incorrect datasets being released, datasets being released in inappropriate formats or with poor data quality, or datasets being sporadically released leading to organisations being unable (or unwilling) to build sustainable solutions on top of the open data.

This approach frustrates the open data community rather than helping to build a community that wants to work with the public sector to improve both public services and wider society.

[39] https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/open-data-user-group
[40] http://www.opsi.gov.uk/psi/
[41] http://incentive.opendata.esd.org.uk

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