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Audrey Mandela: Public Sector Information Policy: On the Right Track?
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Audrey Mandela: Public Sector Information Policy: On the Right Track?

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Audrey Mandela: Public Sector Information Policy: On the Right Track? Audrey Mandela: Public Sector Information Policy: On the Right Track? Presentation Transcript

  • Public Sector Information Policy: On the Right Track? Audrey Mandela Chair The Locus Association
  • Public Sector Information (PSI) matters
    • The Locus Association was established to encourage the public sector to maintain a trading environment that is fair and equitable, in particular in relation to the licensing and re-use of public sector information
    • “ Between 15% and 25% of commercial information products and services are based on information held by the public sector.” (Lord Falconer, former Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs and Lord Chancellor)
    • “ Government is a natural monopolist for most PSI.” (Treasury Spending Review)
    • “ Geographic information is a key element in PSI.” (European Union study by PIRA)
    • Over £500 million of lost value to the economy because of current arrangements. (OFT Commercial Use of Public Information Market Study)
  • The current position on PSI trading is not optimal….. for business or for government
    • Locus does not believe PSI should necessarily be free
    • Key PSI Holders focus on exploitation, not maximization of re-use
        • Public task is poorly defined
        • Commercial conflicts of interest are endemic
        • Legal, sales and marketing overheads
        • Investment to challenge existing private sector products
    • Restrictive licensing
        • Inhibits Government operations
        • Impedes modernization – unsuited for Internet use
        • Limits transformation and sharing services
        • Disadvantages citizens – lack of choice
    • Strong disincentive to private sector investment, enterprise and innovation
  • What is actually happening? Operational Efficiency Review consequences Defending PSI appears to PSI Holders to be in the national interest
    • New public guidelines are vague and come from a variety of (sometimes conflicting) independent reports:
        • - CUPI Study (OFT)
        • - Power of Information Study and Taskforce
        • - Cambridge Study
    Private acceptance that PSI Holders must “sweat the assets” Barriers have stopped coming down
  • Government is the main user of PSI but there is a high cost of non-statutory data Limitations of use, for example on Internet Unnecessary gold-plating of data quality Questionable efficiency vis a vis the private sector Lack of choice because monopoly providers Tortuous licensing Complex negotiations
  • Private sector blocked from innovation Limitations of use, especially on Internet Opaque accounting, cross-subsidization Competitive threat (and now reality) Unfair behaviour and terms Inadequate regulatory framework
  • The playing-field is not level
    • Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) has no real regulatory power
    • OPSI obliged to support government policy – not all stakeholders
    • PSI Holders have substantial resource to defend their business models. [ OPSI’s entire annual budget is less than OS spends on lawyers alone]
    • “ Information Fair Trader Scheme” is an “agreement” designed to encourage best practice – not to enforce it. Not open to Judicial Review
    • OPSI’s only sanctions are too nuclear
    • The PSI Regulations exclude vital PSI and need tightening
    • The National Audit Office remit is too high-level
    • The Office of Fair Trading can only “investigate” 1 in 30 complaints
    • Stimulating PSI re-use requires all barriers to be removed
  • The Cambridge Study
    • Socially optimal policy would involve moving to marginal cost charging for a subset of products
    • Having proper governance/regulatory regime in place is central to realising benefits of change:
      • Public Task currently poorly defined
      • Trading Funds have no incentive to minimise cost but only to match cost to revenues
      • Trading funds can currently always raise prices and increase revenues to meet costs
      • Leads to gold-plating of products and over-investment
      • A change in charging regime should not have an impact on data quality or efficiency
    • Shareholder Executive advising Trading Funds but the Shareholder Executive only represents interests of some stakeholders
  • At present the UK government does not have a viable policy
    • Gives away some data
    • Sells some data
      • “ Public Task” boundaries are blurred
      • Aggregation of “Product” costs permitted
      • Cross-subsidisation condoned
      • Unrefined and refined data costs merged
      • Lack of clear and effective regulation tolerated
  • Government must decide….
    • a) If it continues commercial activities
      • How to separate clearly and fairly, commercial activities from those of its data collection activities
    • b) If it retrenches and focuses purely on data collection activities
      • Whether to provide them free or
      • At real cost (plus margin) for each data collection activity
  • What is needed?
    • Decisions about what government should be doing in this space
    • Information about what PSI is available
    • Clarity about use conditions
    • A level competitive playing-field. Some Trading Funds are almost certainly acting anti-competitively. Privatisation is thus impossible.
    • A review process that is relatively swift, low cost, open, adequately independent and robust
    • Transparent outcomes within a realistic timetable
    • Certainty that decisions will be implemented promptly
  • THE LOCUS ASSOCIATION PO Box 54826 London SW1Y 4XX Tel: 020 7930 9788 Fax: 020 7976 1680 Email: harriet@quintuspa.com Web: www.locusassociation.co.uk