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The truth is out there 

A discussion paper
Released  05 March 2010

Price: £15 | ISBN: 1-86240-586-7 | Stock code: GNR3611

Summary [Download full report below this summary]

This discussion paper looks at how the public sector can improve information made available to the public. It follows our publication in November 2009, Nothing but the truth that looked at the reliability of facts and figures used by public service providers and decision-makers such as councils and health trusts, social workers, doctors and police.

The next document in our 'Truth' series, 'The truth is out there' poses questions such as 'What information will capture the public’s imagination?' and 'How will the public know what information to trust?'

The paper is written on the assumption that:

  • data about public services should be in the public domain, subject to essential safeguards for confidentiality
  • information should be in forms that can be easily accessed, understood and analysed
  • it is both necessary and possible to take steps to reduce the risk that public trust will be undermined by inaccurate data or deliberate distortion

To prompt that debate, the paper:

  • shares learning and innovative practice from Britain and other parts of the world
  • highlights the challenges and risks of making data and information more widely accessible
  • suggests some ways to mitigate those risks in the years ahead

'The truth is out there' aims to stimulate debate on transparency in the public sector. Comments are invited online via

‘Uncovering the truth: Using information to deliver more for less’ roundtable parliamentary event

Closely aligned to the content of this report, a roundtable discussion on information governance was held jointly by the Audit Commission and EURIM (external link). The event was held at Portcullis House, Westminster on 22 February 2010. It was chaired by Philip Dunne, MP and opened with short addresses by:

  • Steve Bundred, Chief Executive, The Audit Commission
  • Jim Norton, Vice President Professionalism, The Chartered Institute for IT
  • Tony Travers, Director, Greater London Group, The London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Michael Whitehouse, Chief Operating Officer, National Audit Office

The aim was to prompt debate about how information can enhance democracy and improve public services. In particular how we ensure that data about public services is accurate yet timely, comprehensive yet easy to understand and above all, provides a trustworthy and truthful picture.

More information about the event including the additional 17 roundtable participants.

A full audio recording of the roundtable discussion can be found on the EURIM website (external link).

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