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FORCE gov.uk suppliers to stick to 'open data principles' – MPs

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UK government suppliers should be required to adhere to the same "open data principles" as government departments, a committee of MPs has proposed. The House of Commons' Public Administration Select Committee backed calls from UK Information Commissioner Christopher Graham, among others, for greater transparency in the government outsourcing environment (54-page/8.40MB PDF).

"Open data principles should be applied not only to government departments but also to the private companies with which they make contracts," the Committee said in a new report. "We recommend that companies contracting with the government to provide contracted or outsourced goods and services should be required to make all data open on the same terms as the sponsoring department."

"This stipulation should be included in a universal standard contract clause which should be introduced and enforced across government from the beginning of the financial year 2015-16," it said.

'Open data' is the term used to describe the UK government's initiative to ensure that data it holds is made available publically in a format which facilitates its re-use.

However, the Committee said that there were too many restrictions preventing public data from being disclosed and said that there should be a shift in emphasis to ensure data is published more often.

"There should be a presumption that restrictions on government data releases should be abolished," the Committee said. "It may be necessary to exempt certain data sets from this presumption, but this should be on a case-by-case basis, to provide for such imperatives as the preservation of national security or the protection of personal privacy."

"The Cabinet Office must give a much higher priority to ensuring that more interesting and relevant data is made open, and that the release mechanisms encourage people to use it and, where appropriate, hold government and local authorities to account. Beginning in April 2014, targets should be set for the release of totally new government datasets – not the republishing of existing ones," it added.

Copyright © 2014, Out-Law.com

Out-Law.com is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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