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Friday, June 04, 2010

A new era of transparency?

This morning's Guardian reports that the new coalition is to embark on a new era of open and transparent government by giving the public free access to its accounting books for the first time. This will entail publishing the entire contents of its spending database, a total of 24m individual entries documenting where public money comes from, what it is spent on and whose pocket it ends up in.

The catch lies in how we interpret this information, and for that we may require some help:

The complex, 120GB Combined Online Information System (Coins) database won't, however, be accessible to the public until an industry has emerged to analyse and digest the information. The data is being released in raw format, without the sophisticated software needed to access it. In opposition, the Tories had suggested that such a release could stimulate an industry to analyse and create online services from it, worth up to £6bn a year.

Still it is a start and an important signal regarding our future approach to government.
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