Free Our Data: the blog

A Guardian Technology campaign for free public access to data about the UK and its citizens


Do ministers listen to advisory panels? The one on public sector information (PSI) isn’t so sure

The Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information (APPSI) has just issued its third annual report, and it’s a mixed bag, at least in terms of how it sees ministers reacting to it. Mostly, it seems, they don’t – or they don’t take the value in PSI seriously.

In Yes, minister, it’s time for the data debate, Michael Cross points out how the APPSI has struggled with what could be interpreted as indifference:

The advisory panel’s report suggests that current policy – torn between the demands of data protection, freedom of information and earning a commercial return – is in a mess. The report reveals a tale of frustrated attempts to try to interest ministers in public sector information – which one expert member describes as “the main asset of government”.

And:

Throughout the report, there is frustration at the low priority given by ministers to questions of public sector information. Members of the panel “have been disappointed in the past year with our inability to stimulate and secure ministerial interest”, the report reveals.

And as the article also points out, we know how it feels. Guardian Technology has for the past month repeatedly requested an interview with Baroness Ashton, the minister at the Department for Constitutional Affairs with responsibility for information rights. Her office has not responded. (Her theyworkforyou page includes the interesting note “never rebels against her party in Parliament”. Well, ministers tend not to, of course.)

We might start a timer to see how long it’s been since we requested the interview to date.

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