Introduction (draft)


Introduction to the Taskforce

The Power of Information Taskforce was set the following terms of reference:

‘To advise and assist the government on delivering benefit to the public from new developments in digital media and the use of citizen- and state-generated information in the UK, including those identified in the Power of Information Review.

The Taskforce will consider the following sub questions:

How can government further catalyse more beneficial creation and sharing of knowledge, and mutual support, between citizens?

What more can and should be done to improve the way government and its agencies publish and share non personal information?

Are there any further notable information opportunities or shortfalls in sectors outside government that those sectors could work to rectify?’

We welcome your comments on the recommendations and report.

More information on the Taskforce can be found here, information on its members is here.

The Taskforce wrote up much of its work as it went along on a blog.  The dozens of comments made on the blog were enormously useful in pointing us to new information or supporting or correcting argument and we are grateful to all those who contributed.  We are also grateful to the many people who took time to work through complex issues with us one to one, often in confidence or organised events to discuss the Power of Information.


The members of the Taskforce took part in its work in a personal capacity.  This report does not represent the views of the organisations that the Taskforce members work for.

RSS feed of comments 4 Responses to “Introduction to the Taskforce”

  1. Richard Quarrell says:

    “How can government further catalyse more beneficial creation and sharing of knowledge…

    The potential mismatch (or might it be deliberate legal mischief?) that appears to hold sway in my reading between Regulation 5.2 and Regulation 16 in SI-1515 (Statutory Instrument 2005 No. 1515) must be resolved – in favour of freeing up data for reuse.
    If there’s a loop hole for exclusion that is self defined, then all this effort is going to a bit like working out on an exercise cycle!

  2. Richard Quarrell says:

    “Are there any further notable information opportunities…” yes, I think there are…

    Most public bodies do not have an information asset list. Most commentators agree that the task of describing information assets is paramount. Logically, it’s the first task to be done. The more comprehensively it is done, the better. The more consistently it is done, the more useful it will be. OPSI would like this information to be “surfaced on the web” or given some similarly transparent and universal access – and that’s a good idea.

    One problem is that the data is held by hundreds of public bodies in thousands of places and (for the most part) they don’t actually know comprehensively what they have. So they cannot suddenly put on a friendly smile and publish a comprehensive list of what they have. To achieve what is needed, the first step is to build IARs, and to do this locally – in fact they must do it themselves. If this could be done automatically and consistently, it would be easy for them. If the effect were broad compliance nationally, then that would be a big step forward in releasing or unlocking the data the POI report refers to. We do have the technology to do this – PSIKEY is the key to PSI; both for description of and potential access for potential reuse.

  3. Richard Quarrell says:

    “…to improve the way government and its agencies publish and share non personal information?”…

    The most significant single action would be to ensure that they all have properly constructed, comprehensive and accurate information asset registers. These IARs can tell them what assets they have, whether those assets are suitable to be shared, and if so under what conditions. This process can now be done automatically, using metadata. Government should and could encourage a positive willingness to get this done. Those at the coal-face will need reassurance – but government can provide this.

  4. Andy Mabbett says:

    An explicit statement that “government” includes “local government” (or that the scope of the task force deliberately excludes it) would be helpful.

    Assuming the former, some of the language in the report will need to be tweaked accordingly.