Feeds

NAO: Gov open data policy disorganised and costly

Calls for cost-benefit analysis

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
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.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.