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Public sector information and re-use – where is the UK now?

By Stephen Saxby

Abstract

Information produced by government does of course serve a number of purposes. First it should inform government so as to generate sound policy decisions and effective strategies. Second, through a variety of media, it should provide the general public with information to enable individuals to engage with government services and to deliver personal data that they are obliged to provide. Access to a wide variety of public sector information (PSI) is also important to enable individuals to manage their lives, operate their businesses or help make political decisions about which party to support at an election. But in the midst of such uses is the asset itself i.e. PSI and the policy for its creation, storage, management, exploitation and distribution. As a national resource one issue is whether it is a commodity to be shared freely or, in those circumstances where income can be derived from it, a product to be licensed and sold to offset public sector costs? In the UK this has been under debate for many years through analysis of Crown copyright regulation. Current policy, as interpreted by HM Treasury, continues to argue that those wishing to exploit or add value to PSI for commercial purposes should at least contribute something to the cost of its supply. Joint ventures with the private sector have also been entered into for the preparation and distribution of some PSI where the private sector service provider is permitted to recoup subscriptions in return for the investment. Until recently this has been a relatively sterile debate lacking data to fuel the arguments. That has changed as a result of recent investigations which this paper now explores. At issue is whether present policy is vindicated or alternatively whether pressure is growing for further modernisation of conventional approaches? This paper traces the process of development of the policy through to the present

Topics: JN101, ZA, K1
Year: 2008
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.soton.ac.uk:73132
Provided by: e-Prints Soton

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