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6 Regulation and best practice

6.1 Compliance with the Regulations on the Re-use of Public Sector Information

Public sector bodies making available public sector information for re-use are subject to the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005 (regulation 3 of the PSI Regulations define the public sector bodies covered and where re-use is permitted, it must be in accordance with regulations 11 to 16).  The PSI Regulations also establish a complaints process. If information is made available for re-use, then it is open to re-users that have exhausted the public sector body's own internal complaints procedure, to refer their complaint on to Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI), part of The National Archives. If either the complainant, or the public sector body, is dissatisfied with the result of the OPSI complaint investigation, then there is a potential route of review of that decision by the Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information.

6.2 Information Fair Trader Scheme (IFTS)

Public sector bodies which wish to measure their own performance can complete the Information Fair Trader Scheme (IFTS) self-assessment. This process is run by The National Archives. The assessment measures how effectively public sector bodies manage the re-use of their information and it also provides a valuable tool to demonstrate that they are meeting their legal responsibilities under the PSI Regulations.

Full Information Fair Trader Scheme (IFTS) accreditation is aimed at major public sector information traders and trading funds. It is based on a full audit of information trading activities and is intended for those bodies which need to meet a high standard of compliance with IFTS principles and the PSI Regulations.

The IFTS principles are: maximisation; simplicity; innovation; transparency; fairness; and challenge.

Any public sector body may apply to become IFTS accredited. However, all Crown bodies that have a licensing delegation of authority from the Controller of HMSO must become IFTS accredited.

To be recognised as an accredited Information Fair Trader, a public sector body will:

  • make a commitment to information fair trader principles;
  • have the commitment independently verified; and
  • investigate complaints that the commitment has not been met.

6.3 Charging for the re-use of public sector information

It is UK Government policy to support the re-use of its information by making it available for re-use under simple licensing terms.  As part of this policy most public sector information should be made available for re-use at the marginal cost of production. In effect, this means at zero cost for the re-user, especially where the information is published online. This maximises the social and economic value of the information. The Open Government Licence should be the default licence adopted where information is made available for re-use free of charge.

If public sector bodies find it necessary to charge for re-use of their information, they will be subject to the charging provisions in the PSI Regulations. Regulation 15 of the PSI Regulations sets out a charging regime, allowing re-use charges to be applied up to, but not in excess of, the cost of collection, production, reproduction and dissemination of documents and a reasonable return on investment.  Charging is also subject to the HM Treasury guidance in Managing Public Money. The guidance and principles in Managing Public Money will also be relevant to other bodies such as local authorities in coming to a judgment on what amounts to a reasonable charge.

Where central government departments and agencies (whose information is subject to Crown copyright and Crown database right) wish to charge for the re-use of their public sector information, they are required to justify departures from the marginal cost model against a published set of criteria. This justification ensures that Government does not limit or restrict re-use. Departments and agencies that satisfy the criteria and application process will license their information under delegation of authority from the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office (an official in The National Archives). These licensing activities are then regulated under the Information Fair Trader Scheme (IFTS).