Government to spend £7m on opening data

The government has earmarked £7 million available from April 2013 for the purchase of more data to be released for free.

So far more than 40,000 public data sets have been released on data.gov.uk, as part of Whitehall's transparency agenda.

A new independently chaired Data Strategy Board (DSB) will have access to the money, which will come from Trading Fund organisations and potentially other public sector organisations from efficiency savings.

The DSB's role will be to advise ministers on what data should be released. It will also work with the Public Data Group (PDG), which comprises Trading Funds organisations the Met Office, Ordnance Survey, Land Registry and Companies House, to develop a more consistent approach to improving access to government information.

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Members to the board have yet to be appointed, but at least one in three of the members will be from outside government, including representatives of data re-users. Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude and Universities and Science minister David Willets will be jointly responsible for the DSB.

Meanwhile, an Open Data User Group, made up of representatives from the open data community, will be directly involved in decisions on the release of open data. It will advise the DSB on what data to be purchased from public organisations.

Maude said: "The new structure for Open Data will ensure a more inclusive discussion, including private sector data users, on future data releases, how they should be paid for and which should be available free of charge."

The government is in the process of recruiting for the chairs of the DSB and the PDG. Individuals interested in joining the boards can express their interest here.