Modernise data publishing and reuse


Beacon Status – encouraging and rewarding excellence

The Taskforce talked with stakeholders and aired on its blog a low cost approach for unlocking the power of information in Local Government.  The Taskforce set out some simple rules in plain English that would help a Local Authority encourage information reuse and save money by adopting a simple policy:

  • Ensure you have a copyright notice or a license to tell people what they can and can’t do with your information (which is also your intellectual property).

  • Every local authority owns its own copyrights and database rights. You are required by law (the Public Sector Information regulations) to publish the terms under which your material can be re-used.

  • To minimise bureaucracy and cost it makes sense for your information to be available for people to re-use for free under a simple standard license. The best way to do this is using the plain English “PSI Click-Use license”, administered by the Office of Public Sector Information, part of the National Archives.

  • All you need to do is adopt a policy for your Council’s information to be licensed by “The Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office”, who also licenses Crown copyright information for the government. There is clear guidance on the process for extending the scope of the click-use licence.

  • You will need to adopt a mandate following standard approved wording.

Following this process should reduce cost to the local authority by doing something once rather than many times. It could also foster local economic and third sector activity. Where leading local authorities take such measures they should be recognised and rewarded. The IDEA ‘Beacon’ scheme is a prestigious award scheme that recognises excellence in local government. The IDEA website describes the Beacon Scheme:

‘The Beacon Scheme was set up to disseminate best practice in service delivery across local government….Themes are selected for each round of the scheme by Government Ministers. The themes represent issues which are important in the day-to-day lives of the public and reflect key government priorities. Themes are announced one or two years in advance and some themes will be repeated in future rounds. Beacon status is granted to those authorities who can demonstrate a clear vision, excellent services and a willingness to innovate within a theme. Awards are made by government ministers based on recommendations made by an independent advisory panel.’

The Taskforce has discussed with Communities and Local Government the possibility of a Beacon award for excellence in unlocking the power of local government information.

Recommendation 16

Communities and Local Government should work with local government to develop and adopt a Power of Information Beacon award. The criteria for this award should start with the Taskforce’s proposed licensing model and be extended as best practice develops.