Public accounts committee slams public sector organisations over open data

By Graeme Burton
01 Aug 2012 View Comments

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has criticised public-sector organisations that dump raw data into the public domain insufficiently formatted to enable people and companies to analyse and make use of it.

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The publication of the data is required by government in the name of transparency and openness and, ultimately, to improve the quality of public services. However, the PAC warned that publishing the raw data alone is not enough.

"The government has a lot more work to do before that potential is realised," said Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the PAC.

"It is simply not good enough to dump large quantities of raw data into the public domain. It must be accessible, relevant and easy for us all to understand. Otherwise the public cannot use it to make comparisons and exercise choice, which is the key objective of the transparency agenda."

Hodge was commenting on a report into the transparency process, published by the PAC today.

"Some data is very difficult to interpret," she said, "such as on local government spending, and there are important gaps in information, such as incomplete price and performance information on adult social care."

She added: "At the moment too much data is poorly presented and difficult to interpret. In some sectors, such as adult social care, there are big gaps in the information provided so users cannot use it to make informed choices."

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