Feeds

NAO: Gov open data policy disorganised and costly

Calls for cost-benefit analysis

Security for virtualized datacentres

The government’s open-data policy has no proven benefits and could actually be costing taxpayers more than it’s worth.

That’s the message from a National Audit Office report that tells Whitehall it’s time for some proper cost analysis on the policy of unloading vast data sets on the public.

In the absence of such analysis there’s no clear way to measure whether the open-data policy is actually delivering on its purpated goals of increased accountability, delivering imporved services and of economic growth the NAO said.

The agency reportImplementing Transparency – reveals a policy that’s all over the map. There's no idea of the costs entailed and no consistency in implementation.

In some cases the act of opening data is costing the taxpayer money in increased staff costs.

Estimated staff costs of providing standard information disclosures of pre-existing data range between £53,000 and £500,000, while a police crime map costs £300,000 to build as staff need to repack the data as well as more than £150,000 to run.

The release of public weather service data had minimal cost, however, the auditors' office noted.

The crime map website had 47 million visits between February and December 2011, while the Department of Education has reported an 84 per cent increase in the use of its comparative schools data since that information became available.

Less popular with the public, meanwhile, is the information that departments release on any spending which is in excess of £25,000.

Meanwhile, holes exist in areas the public could find helpful. There’s nothing from the Department of Health or related bodies on data that could help people compare costs and performance of home care for adults, for example; meanwhile the government has scrapped frameworks on performance of local government services.

The NAO warned the government even in areas where the costs of releasing data are relatively modest: “They would be more substantial if additional information were collected to secure purposeful, standardised information to fill the gaps noted...," it said. "Pursuit of transparency objectives is therefore likely to increase cost pressures.

“While the Cabinet Office has identified six types of potential benefits from open data, it is not yet using this framework to evaluate the success and value for money of its various transparency initiatives,” the NAO said.

In the Budget this spring, the government announced an Open Data Institute that it promised would “innovate, exploit and research open data opportunities with business and academia" but the NAO said the range and scope of this new group’s work isn’t clear.

The UK government has bit hard on the policy of open data, releasing information previously frozen inside departments and local authorities to be viewed and used by the public and business.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude boasted in March that Britain is leading the world by making ever more data freely available. Central government and other public bodies have so far released 5,400 data sets with 23 of 25 departments committing to release information.

The NAO report, though, is an uncomfortable reality check on Maude and the free-data-at-all-costs ideologists leading the government’s digital agenda. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Apple's iPhone 6 first-day sales are MEANINGLESS, mutters analyst
Big weekend queues only represent fruity firm's supply
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Bill Gates, drugs and the internet: Top 10 Larry Ellison quotes
'I certainly never expected to become rich ... this is surreal'
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
EMC, HP blockbuster 'merger' shocker comes a cropper
Stand down, FTC... you can put your feet up for a bit
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.