On 4 August, 2011, the Cabinet Office of the UK Government opened a new public consultation on disclosure and access to public sector data.  The consultation, which seeks to “establish a culture of openness” in the public sector, comes soon after a statement from the ICO suggesting that public sector organisations should respond to Freedom of Information requests even when they are made via Twitter.  

The consultation will explore ways to make government more transparent, both by increasing rights of data access for individuals, businesses and organisations, and by enhancing transparency standards within government to increase government accountability.  The consultation will also ask stakeholders whether they believe the Information Commissioner’s Office has sufficient powers to enforce government transparency (primarily through Freedom of Information Act legislation).  

In an effort to make government data more useful to individuals, NGOs, and industry, the document also envisages the release of more useful and compatible data sets, so that better use can be made of public data.  In this context the consultation will explore whether standards for data publication can be established, how the release of different datasets should be prioritised, and how government should use (and allow the use of) its data inventories.

Responses to the consultation must be received by 27 October 2011.