A study naming the UK government as the most transparent in the world illustrates greater public accountability, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said last night.
According to the World Wide Web Foundation’s January Open Data Barometer Report, the UK was ranked highest for its use of open data policies “with strong political backing”.
Speaking at an event held by Queen Mary University of London, Maude said: “We said we wanted to be the most transparent government in the world [and] rather to our surprise, we are generally ranked as being that.”
Outlining the benefits of open data and transparency, Maude said: “First of all, [transparency] creates real-time accountability. It takes us, all who operate in government, out of our comfort zone.”
He said that though openness creates the opportunity for more frequent criticism of the government, it also facilitates what chief executive of the civil service John Manzoni has called “felt accountability” and builds trust.
Explaining the government’s decision to publish the Major Project Authority’s progress reports on all projects – including those rated ‘red’ – Maude said: “Openness and transparency builds trust because if you’re honest about things that aren’t going well, then people start to believe you might be telling the truth about things you are saying well.”
Maude also said that transparency “enables the citizens [..] to exercise choice and better control of the public services that they need to use”.
He also labelled raw data as a valuable raw material that helps small businesses across the country and the world.
Entrepreneurs could not only use data for economic purposes, but could “forge community and social action through it”, he added.
“The raw material for the first industrial revolution was iron and coal, the raw material for this industrial revolution is data,” he said.