Posted by: Etienne Pollard
Public Sector Information Holder: The Cabinet Office
Information Asset: Civil Service Year Book
Members of the public who want to access the official list of public bodies and contact details for key civil servants are encouraged to access the Civil Service Year Book. This costs £60 to purchase in hard copy, and £125 per year to access online.
Charging for access to key data contained in the CSYB discriminates against private citizens and non-profit organisations that cannot afford to pay these annual fees, but who have a valid reason for accessing this information. Certain charities and non-profit groups have taken to republishing extracts from the CSYB for the benefit of their members and the general public, but this is inefficient, difficult to keep current, and technically forbidden by the CSYB content licence.
"The Civil Service Year Book (CSYB) is the definitive official reference for central government in the UK providing the most authoritative source of up-to-date information on the Civil Service. It is the essential guide to the work and structure of the Civil Service in the United Kingdom."
Source: Cabinet Office and OPSI websites
My ideal solution
I would like you to release the core data from the Civil Service Year Book (CSYB), and make it freely available online in a structured format.
If you released the core data under a Click-Use PSI Licence then it could be integrated into other websites, and could potentially be integrated with other publicly available data to increase its value and usefulness.
What I would do
Work with other like-minded people to build a useful, free to use website that allowed people to search the CSYB data. Eventually, combine this data with other public available information to make the core data even more useful.
Why I want this
I want everyone to have access to all of the information in the CSYB, not just people who can afford £125 per year for a subscription.
Who this would help:
- Trade associations (especially small groups) and SMEs who wish to engage with a public body listed in the CSYB
- Charities and other non-profit groups, including campaigning groups, who need to know where to direct suggestions, non-FOI queries or complaints
- Employees of public bodies that do not have automatic subscription to the CSYB website or a hard copy subscription
- Academics, politicans, journalists, researchers and private individuals who wish to contact key personnel in a public body and who need to know where to direct their suggestions, non-FOI queries or complaints