Transparency Board Minutes 11th January 2011
Minutes of a meeting held on 11 January at the Cabinet Office:
- Francis Maude (Chair)
- Sir Tim Berners-Lee
- Professor Nigel Shadbolt
- Tom Steinberg
- Dr Rufus Pollock
- Andrew Stott
- Dr Kieron O'Hara
- Cllr Liam Maxwell
- Lord Tom McNally
- Katie Davies (Cabinet Office)
- Cass Chideock (Cabinet Office)
- Rachel Fentem (No. 10)
- Belinda Lewis (Mininstry of Justice)
- Gus Jaspert (Home Office)
- Rebecca Bradfield (Home Office)
- Amalie Kjaergaard (Secretary)
Welcome and introductions
Actions from the last meeting were agreed - see Paper TB(4)1.i:
'Right to data' green paper - on track
We have started to develop a plan for publishing a right to data paper and hope to be able to share this with the Transparency Board in the near future.
Regular updates to the Transparency Board - on track
The Cabinet Office Transparency Team have been providing regular email updates to the Transparency Board as work progresses and as relevant issues and publications arise.
Inviting DfT to attend the Transparency Board - plan in place
In agreement with MCO’s office, we are in the process of setting up a 1 hour ‘extra’ Transparency Board provisionally on the 8th February specifically discuss the ‘Transport Sector Transparency Vision - opportunities and challenges’.
MCO to provide Transparency updates to Cabinet on a regular basis - on track
The MCO is writing to PM with an update on Transparency shortly
Cabinet Office Transparency Team to engage with the Cabinet Office Public Bodies Team and The National Archives to understand what they are doing to ensure the safety of data at risk of being lost as a result of merging or scrapping of public bodies and to provide an update to the Transparency Board - on track
The National Archives are working on this and will meet with the Cabinet Office Transparency team in January to discuss progress.
Consider whether it would be useful to develop a data ‘validator’ and how best to go about this - plan in place
A "data validator" is one of a number of automated tools that could be built to take data from data.gov.uk and examine it to perform some function.
The data.gov.uk development team are currently working on a generalised system for this. The initial focus of the work is on checking for broken links and automatically rating against the “5 stars of open data” metric.
- Cabinet Office Transparency Team will outline the approach more fully in the paper on the future of data.gov.uk which will be presented to the Transparency Board
- next Transparency Board - 2 March
Update on work programme
Short-term Transparency Data Publication Plan
Paper TB(4)2.i was briefly covered
- Progress is generally encouraging and actions due by end December 2010 have in the main been achieved. There are some actions rated as amber, but in general, the issues are not resulting in data not being published.
Public Data Corporation
The Steering Group met for the first time on Thursday 6th January. Cabinet Office emphasised the importance of developing a range of options for Ministers’ consideration with a focus through to Budget (March) on building the evidence base. The Steering Group acknowledges that they need to define how the Transparency Board will be involved.
The Chair, Minister for the Cabinet Office reiterated the three key objectives for a Public Data Corporation:
- i.it will allow us to make data freely available, and where charging for data is appropriate to do so on a consistent basis.
- it will be a centre of excellence where expertise in collecting, managing, storing and distributing data can be brought together; and
- i.it can be a vehicle which will attract private investment.
The PDC announcement was made on 12th January as planned.
- Cabinet Office Transparency Team will provide a link to the PDC announcement on data.gov.uk.
'Right to data' Programme
The Cabinet Office Transparency Team have started to instruct Parliamentary Counsel to draft the clauses on the ‘right to data’ for inclusion in a Freedom Bill. We hope to be able to share these with the Transparency Board shortly.
Work is also underway on some of the necessary supplementary documentation for the Bill – including the regulatory impact assessment, privacy impact assessment and equality impact assessment.
In addition, the Transparency Team have started work on drafting a skeleton FOI Code of Practice and new administrative guidance to support and embed the new Freedom of Information provisions in public authorities’ practice and culture.
Work is still on course for a Freedom Bill to be introduced by February 2011.
- Cabinet Office Transparency Team to engage with the Transparency Board on draft Freedom Bill clauses and impact assessments.
- Late January
- Cabinet Office Transparency Team to engage with the Transparency Board on an outline of the ‘right to data’ green paper and associated consultation and approval approach and to present this formally at a future Transparency Board.
- mid February for initial engagement 2 March - next Transparency Board for presentation
Nigel Shadbolt’s October progress letter to the Minister for the Cabinet Office
Nigel Shadbolt led a review of progress against the letter he sent to MCO on 14 June - Paper TB(4)2.ii
- The ‘Right to Data’ programme - is an important element in ensuring that the release of data is driven by what people want. This legislation will also need to be supported by clear and directive instructions to public bodies.
- The Public Data Principles - provide behavioural guidance for public bodies on how they need to do business now.
- Progress on PM’s commitments - has been good. There is, however, still relatively little other data being released by departments. This needs to change.
- 5 Star linked data rating - has mostly scored the first round of data releases as ‘2 stars’ - a good start, nevertheless, the data must continue to be released regularly, more automatically and in open and standardised formats.
- Community validation - now that people are using the data it will be important to involve them in determining how the data can be improved through a proper feedback loop.
- Sectoral Transparency Boards - the Local Public Data Panel which advises local authorities is aligned to the work of the Transparency Board. This approach should be considered for other parts of the public sector.
- Data.gov.uk - was originally designed for developers, there is, however, now a wider interest in government data. As a result, there is now a need for further work within data.gov.uk to increase its usability and utility to the new audience.
- A government data inventory - is not in existence and it is, therefore, not possible to measure the extent to which Government as a whole, or individual departments, are releasing their data. Furthermore, the public do not know what data they could request through the "Right to Data".
- International perspective- look at and learn from what other countries have done to summarise available sources of government data.
- Cabinet Office Transparency Team to develop a paper on the future of data.gov.uk to include work to increase the usability and utility and present to the Transparency Board.
- next Transparency Board - 2 March
- Cabinet Office Transparency Team to ensure that the Transparency Strategy addresses the points raised in Nigel Shadbolt’s October progress report and presents a clear way forward on each.
- next Transparency Board - 2 March
Transparency Vision and approach to a strategy
The Transparency Agenda has evolved organically over the past year or so. Discussion with members of the Transparency Board has identified the need for a piece of work that sets out the direction of travel in a more formal way.
Having a specific document to provide a focus for discussion will also help us communicate the focus of the agenda. The document shared with the Board is the product of a number of discussions held within the Cabinet Office Transparency team and with colleagues (including members of the Board) in the run-up to Christmas.
The Cabinet Office Transparency Team presented Paper TB(4)3 to the Transparency Board in order to check that the vision, scope, audience and nature of the strategy were correct.
The Chair, Minister for the Cabinet Office suggested that the strategy reflect the two rubrics under which the Transparency agenda operates:
- The first, the disclosure of information about the performance of government agencies and the wider state, to increase accountability.
- The second, that giving access to state-owned datasets to allow them to be exploited for commercial and social gain by entrepreneurs.
On releases under the first accountability rubric, the data released so far is neither as detailed nor as comprehensive as it could be. We must, therefore, ensure that the strategy directs the consolidation of achievements and that quality, timeliness and usability improve.
On the second rubric which supports both growth and the Big Society we should seek through the strategy to do the following:
- Create a shift in culture towards data being made ‘public by default’;
- Pushing forward with implementation of the ‘Right to Data’;
- Identify and resolve issues around release of data from ‘high value’ datasets;
- Ensure on-going publication via data.gov.uk using open standards; and
- Ensure that the desire for transparency does not over-ride the need for privacy.
- Cabinet Office Transparency Team to provide the Transparency Board with a further opportunity to consider the content of the paper in more detail and feed back any comments. This will ensure that the thoughts of the Transparency Board are fully reflected and that there is a clear steer moving forward.
- mid February
Transparency and Privacy Review: crime data
Progress update on street level crime data commitment
Gus Jaspert and Rebecca Bradfield from the Home Office provided a progress update on the PM’s commitment on the provision of street level crime data by the end of January 2011.
The Home Office is leading work to give the public access to a minimum platform of information from January 2011, which will include street level crime data alongside street level crime maps and information on their neighbourhood policing team and their next beat meeting.
Achievement of this commitment will be a transformational step in the Government’s transparency agenda as well as a critical part of the Home Office police reform agenda and a key part of the move from bureaucratic accountability to democratic accountability.
The Home Office remains on track to deliver the PM’s commitment for monthly street level crime data by January 2011. This is, however, an ambitious and challenging timescale requiring significant work with police forces and partners.
The key challenge for Government and the police is to ensure that the right balance between the provision of street level data and the protection of individuals’ privacy is struck.
It is for this reason that Government has taken a phased approach to this work:
- Phase 1 - to be achieved by the end of January is the delivery of the PM’s commitment.
- Phase 2 – which will commence at the end of January – will use the significant achievement delivering monthly crime data as a springboard for further developments and changes in the future; exploring how to make the data more frequent, more granular and more interactive.
- Cabinet Office Transparency Team to work with the Home Office to develop a ‘lessons learnt’ report on the release of street level crime data.
- Transparency Board - 5 April
O’Hara’s interim report on crime data and discussion
Dr Kieron O’Hara talked through his draft interim report on crime data.
The threats to privacy of the scheme to release crime data are small. The developers have been cautious about potential invasions of privacy, and have minimised risk. It is arguable that it may be difficult to achieve the full benefits of transparency as a result.
- Recommendation 1: Explore the possibility of treating distinct types of crime differently, with appropriate treatment of the location parameter depending on the possibility of identification of the victim, and on the value to the public of knowing the location.
- Recommendation 2: Explore the possibility of a consent-based model of publication as a way of tailoring privacy risk to the individual circumstances (when location could identify the victim).
- Recommendation 3: Include information about the times of crimes.
- Recommendation 4: When designing a data release, do not discount the privacy benefit of a full release of the official record. Privacy and transparency are not always in tension.
- Recommendation 5: Explore using the existing Home Office URN scheme, identifying individual crimes, as a means of linking crime data and court data.
- Recommendation 6: Mandate individual experiments to be carried out to deliver information to the public at a finer grain and/or at a greater frequency than the baseline scheme, including rigorous independent evaluation, to enable the creation of a more complete body of empirical evidence, and allow the dissemination of best practice.
The report was unanimously praised by the Transparency Board and Chair.
Dr Kieron O’Hara’s interim report will be published in late January.
- Cabinet Office Transparency Team to ensure the publication of Dr Kieron O’Hara’s interim report on data.gov.uk.
- as soon as possible
Transparency Board member perspective
This section was led by Nigel Shadbolt and Liam Maxwell.
- Maps are great but releasing the data is crucial.
- A number of polices forces and councils are really keen to go further and have specific ideas, for example Maidenhead and Windsor. Nigel and Liam have been developing guidelines for publishing crime data and these could be used for these forces.
- It would be great to join-up Crown Prosecution Service and Criminal Justice data with that of the police forces. IT is currently an issue.
- It would be helpful if the Home Office could develop and publish a ‘lessons learnt’ report.
- Cabinet Office Transparency Team to work with the Home Office Crime Data team to discuss the next phase of work.
- late February
- Cabinet Office Transparency Team to publish the Crime Data Guidelines entitled Crime_Data_Guidance20101207 on data.gov.uk
AOB and frequency of meetings
The next meeting of the Transparency Board is the 2nd March.