Introduction (draft)



When Ed Mayo and Tom Steinberg’s ‘Power of Information review‘ was published in 2007 it rapidly became apparent that this was a significant contribution to thinking about the ways in which government has to adapt itself to a world in which most people regularly use the internet.

The creation of the Task Force in 2008 was part of a series of positive responses by Government to the report. Over the last 9 months, the Task Force has attempted to develop further the agenda set out in the report. The recommendations in this report should therefore be read alongside those in the original report on which they build.

The Taskforce brought together a group from government, industry and the third sector who all share a passion for using ICT to enable better public service delivery.

All members have contributed in a personal capacity rather than on behalf of their respective organisations and this independence of approach is reflected in our conclusions.

The group has itself worked largely through web 2.0 tools – communicating as a web group, publishing our progress via a blog and RSS feed, and producing this draft report on a wiki.

We have been able to:

  • Demonstrate significant latent capacity in the community for innovative information-based applications through the ShowUsABetterWay competition;
  • Raise further the profile of the Power of Information agenda through engagement with central and local government, industry and civil society;
  • Contribute to the public and internal government debates around access to UK geo-spatial data;
  • Build links with people working on similar agendas in other countries for the mutual exchange of ideas and expertise;
  • Support the creation of social media guidance for civil servants;
  • Examine the usability of key government websites and commission new guidance based on the output of our study;
  • Experiment with using modern web publishing tools for data that is currently published using traditional methods;
  • Develop a model for an architecture for government websites that better supports content re-use;
  • Begin work on the concept of a repository for government information.

We recognise that many people both inside and outside government have been working over several years on projects which provide a sound ‘proof of concept’ for the use of web 2.0 technologies for public service purposes.

The Taskforce believes it has made a further contribution to this body of work. Yet, we are still some way from being able to assert that the public services are making as full a use as possible of the potential offered by evolving internet technologies.

We believe that with this learning from many sources informing our actions, we have the opportunity now to take some major steps forward in making this part of the mainstream of public service activity.

Our recommendations describe the key actions that we believe Government can take in the short to medium term to realise this opportunity and we look forward positively to the debate and responses that they generate.

Richard Allan, Taskforce Chair

RSS feed of comments 12 Responses to “Foreword”

  1. Bill Thompson says:

    Do you want literals and grammatical comments too? Like the missing ’s after “Steinberg” or the infelicity of phrases like “the government information re-use field”, or do you want us to stick to substantive comments around the proposals or the structure?

  2. poit3 says:

    It’s your call bill – where ever you think you add the most value, though substantive issues are probably more useful William Perrin

  3. Jeremy Dent says:

    “Engage with a wide range of interested parties in the government information re-use field and start to develop a model for a PoI architecture for government.”

    Could this be written in clear English please?

  4. Apologies, but in this section an early draft has been published not the version I am still working on.

    Can you please hold off commenting on its weakness and lousy English until the proper version has been uploaded.

    The best laid plans of mice and men…

  5. Bill Thompson says:

    Will wait for the polished version… then we’ll let rip :-)

  6. Thanks, Bill. Proper version now up so rip away… ;-)

  7. Richard

    Do you have this as one continuous document that I can read through?


    MODERATOR NOTE – full text document is being prepared. We reversed the usual order to do the commentable version first but recognise that a full text version is handy for people to use offline.

  8. [...] report has been published in beta for comments before being officially submitted to the Cabinet [...]

  9. Sebastian Crump says:

    Does this really have be be read alongside the old report? Would much prefer either outstanding recommendations re-iterated/reflected in this one. This seems to have been done at some points, so it seems to be a slightly muddled approach at the moment.

  10. [...] report has been published in beta for comments before being officially submitted to the Cabinet [...]

  11. Richard Quarrell says:

    If there’s a singular, strategic point to be made – in my view – it’s this…

    In 2007 the POI report reminded us all of the value of information; particularly relevant now in the age of the Knowledge Economy and a global market. Public bodies are by far the largest producers of information in Europe and yet PSI remains an untapped resource. In 2001 PIRA estimated the lost value of PSI to be around €68bn annually. PSI is an untapped resource largely because no one knows exactly what’s there and where each bit is; but partly because PSI holders in the main have not been willing to share it. Most people agree this situation is totally unsatisfactory.

    It’s now beholden upon government to do what they can to:
    (1) encourage initiatives and strategies for data discovery across the public sector,
    (2) promote a culture of willingness and cooperation among the community of PSI holders, and
    (3) do this with a greater sense of urgency than what we’ve seen up to now.

    In 2007 POI recharged awareness of this issue. In 2009 POIT has the opportunity to build on that momentum and urge government to take the initiative forward with decisive and practical actions designed to facilitate better access to this information, because that’s the first step to take; it’s fundamental.

  12. I’d particularly echo Richard Quarell’s point 2 (and 3). It’s not just about PSI’s sharing data more openly with the public/developers, etc – but with each other to achieve immediate performance and public service needs.