Got round to adding suggestions, comments and queries to the Power of Information Taskforce Report.
The report is really very good. The recommendations it makes have ambition but are also achievable. It goes to show what can be done by taskforces made up of government insiders and outsiders given a clear remit, enough time and sufficient gravitas.
But it could be sharper and stronger.
I’ve added specifics to the commentable version.
What I want to raise here – for lack of a better place – are three more general concerns.
1. More good news... I expected far more of reporting on what has been achieved by government since the original review. Partly because it encourages those who have done good work to keep going, and partly because it encourages the uninitiated or blockers to get involved. Think this would be quite easy for the Taskforce to include because they all know what’s been going on and who’s been behind it.
2. Focus on freeing up information… When the Taskforce talks geo-spatial data, right of re-use, IT access and the like, it makes a great appraisal of what’s wrong and a fantastic case for how it could be done better (roughly, Recommendations 9 – 22). When it drifts off into the policy dialogues, forums and guidance, it all gets woollier and less convincing. These recommendations seem less well-researched and bit too narrow, like an after-thought. By all means reference how the likes of online policy dialogues could be improved by civil servant participation and better access to raw data, but keep it as a prospective benefit to be explored rather than recommending particular courses of action.
3. Make the case… A 10 million pound government innovation budget would be so exciting! But make the case. Is that a lot or a little compared to what? Where should efforts be directed – sites, mash-ups, skills? And what would the prospective results?