Feeds

UK to make FoI data machine readable

New law will make information more accessible

High performance access to file storage

The government is to change the law so that all data released under the Freedom of Information Act will be fully accessible to computers.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude told the Conservative party conference in Birmingham that the Freedom of Information Act will be amended so that all data released through FoI must be in a reusable and machine readable format.

The change in the law will mean that FoI data is "available to everyone and able to be exploited for social and commercial purposes", he said on 3 October 2010.

This means using formats such as .csv, an open spreadsheet format, or .xls, which is used by Microsoft's Excel – but not the portable document format. PDFs can only be opened as visual files, with software such as spreadsheets unable to extract the actual information.

The government's transparency agenda, Maude said, has already ensured that information including the Treasury's Coins spending database, a list of all quango chiefs and civil servants earning more than £150,000 and government tenders which exceed £10,000 has been published.

"We want to go much further," he told delegates. "Thousands of commercial and social entrepreneurs have been frustrated by their inability to obtain and reuse datasets. I'm sorry to say that some councils spend time and money deliberately making data unusable to anyone else."

Research by the Guardian's Data blog has found that only 66 of the 326 councils in England have so far published spending above £500 online, and more than a third have done so only using PDFs – including Europe's largest local authority, Birmingham City Council. They are required to do so by January.

On cutting government spending, Maude said that the Cabinet Office has been renegotiating contracts with its biggest suppliers by dealing with them as a single customer, "instead letting them play one part of government off against another".

He said that contract renegotiations were not yet complete, but that so far the government had saved several hundred million pounds.

A freeze on IT spending, along with advertising, consultants and offices, was confirmed by Maude. Any exceptions have to be referred to him for approval.

This article was originally published at Kable.

Kable's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
Singapore decides 'three strikes' laws are too intrusive
When even a prurient island nation thinks an idea is dodgy it has problems
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.