Public data - statement of principles

A clear, unqualified statement of principles on the publication of public data is essential for everyone to work towards in order to achieve the successful delivery of the Transparency programme.

 These Principles work because they represent the ultimate goal for public bodies to aspire to when carrying out their existing or new activities to publish data. By adhering to the Principles, we are encouraging greater use of published data and also helping to reduce potential barriers to innovative uses of the data.

At the very start of the Government’s Transparency Programme, the Public Sector Transparency Board was asked to give advice in the form of general principles regarding how to make published data as useful as possible. In June 2010, the Transparency Board published the Public Data Principles on data.gov.uk which, for the past two years have been the best guide to helping them achieve the best possible outcome when publishing data. Wanting to get the input from those who use the data, the Principles were open for comment by the public and data users were invited to share their practical experience on the application of the guidance and how the Principle could work even better.

In the Open Data White Paper published in June this year, the Government committed to ensuring that the Principles become a fundamental part of the data publication process and announced that the Principles, updated in reflection to the consultation, were formally adopted as policy. The Government also committed to provide regular Written Ministerial Statements to report on compliance.

 As we move more and more closer to a landscape underwritten by the presumption to publish easier to use and consistent data, we recognise that the Principles may not be immediately possible for all of the data being published by all public bodies. Greater transparency in public bodies and services is the ultimate goal but we have to make sure everyone has the right tools, skills and guidance to collectively get to our shared destination. The Principles set out clearly how we can all take steps to publish data in the right way.

The principles are:

The principles, drawn up by the Public Sector Transparency Board and revised as the result of consultation, are as follows:

(1) Public data policy and practice will be clearly driven by the public and businesses that want and use the data, including what data is released when and in what form

(2) Public data will be published in re-usable, machine-readable form

(3) Public data will be released under the same open licence which enables free re-use, including commercial re-use

(4) Public data will be available and easy to find through a single, easy-touse, online access point (www.data.gov.uk)

(5) Public data will be published using open standards, and following relevant recommendations of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

(6) Public data from different departments about the same subject will be published in the same, standard formats and with the same definitions

(7) Public data underlying the Government’s own websites will be publishedin re-usable form

(8) Public data will be timely and fine-grained

(9) Release data quickly, and then work to make sure that it is available in open standard formats, including linked data forms

(10) Public data will be freely available to use in any lawful way

(11) Public data will be available without application or registration, and without requiring details of the user

(12) Public bodies should actively encourage the re-use of their public data

(13) Public bodies should maintain and publish inventories of their data holdings

(14) Public bodies should publish relevant metadata about their datasets andthis should be available through a single online access point; and they should publish supporting descriptions of the format provenance and meaning of the data

For a printer friendly format of these principles; public data principles