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UK.gov soaps up public in latest data appeal

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The Cabinet Office is once again asking British citizens to pony up ideas about what government information should be released via the data.gov.uk website.

Francis Maude, the department’s minister, is calling on the public to log on to the site and post their views about what data should be made available.

He said the Public Sector Transparency Board pushed for more people to waste time expressing their views on the interwebs.

So presumably that particular meeting of minds didn’t actually pay much attention to the speedy demise of the Treasury’s website that had - briefly - asked the UK's inhabitants to crowdsource* suggestions for government cutbacks. But it was then closed after being attacked by some nasty malware.

Mind you, perhaps members of the PST board have instead been paying much closer attention to UK.gov’s Your Freedom website, which has garnered some, er, interesting responses.

Maude said that datasets for Land Registry, Companies House, the Integrated Business Register, transport data, weather information and Environment Agency data were among the most popular requests from citizens.

“We promised a new approach to government - one that puts transparency at the very heart of everything we do. As part of our commitment to transparency this Government has already published a series of datasets which have never been available to the public before,” he said.

“But it’s not just a one way process: I want people to give their ideas on what datasets they want to see released and not just wait for us to publish.”

He then went on to misquote Reg Holdsworth from Coronation Street by declaring “information is power”, when we all know it should be "knowledge is power", right?

Anyway, according to Maude, allowing people access to freely available datasets would help “hold public bodies to account and challenge them”.

He then used the word “transparency”. Again.

Meanwhile, as part of its efforts to be seen to be doing the right thing in these Superman Vision times, the government today published English authorities and the Department of Health's spending sprees in 2009.

It revealed that public bodies spent a total of £86bn of taxpayers’ money last year, of which more than £7.5bn was splurged on IT. ®

*Now, wash your mouth out.

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