The Prime Minister has today outlined plans for improving frontline services while getting better value for money for the taxpayer, during a speech to the Smarter Government conference.
The announcement coincides with the publication of a paper Putting The Frontline First: Smarter Government which includes plans to cut inefficiencies and to use technology to help hospitals, schools and police forces get better value for money. This paper will form the basis our discussion on ‘New Information Policy Developments’ at the APPSI seminar on Thursday 10 December.
Speaking directly about the information policy agenda, the PM said:
“as a result of the work of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, every citizen will from next year have access to all information on the performance of our public services showing how, and in great detail, hospitals schools and all our public services perform in your own neighbourhood - data put online during 2010 completing the process by 2011, but data there to encourage feedback and dialogue between professional and citizen…
Information is the key. An informed citizen is a powerful citizen.
We will ensure that people can get access to the information they need to engage in dialogue with public service professionals; and in doing so reduce bureaucratic burdens. This will drive improvements in public services, making them more personal and cost-effective, whilst at the same time strengthening democratic deliberation and giving frontline workers and voluntary organisations the freedom to innovate and respond to new demands in new ways.
We are determined to be among the first governments in the world to open up public information in a way that is far more accessible to the general public.
So I am grateful to Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt for leading a project to ‘make public data public’.
This has enormous potential. Already more than 1,000 active users of the internet have registered their interest in working with government on this, and we have so far made around 1,100 datasets accessible to them.
And there are many hundreds more that can be opened up - not only from central government but also from local councils, the NHS, police and education authorities.
And these must all have the opportunity for feedback and interaction, for that is where power lies for the citizen.
This increased transparency and accountability will enable citizens to compare local services, lobby for improvements, choose providers and demand changes in service delivery - with the web as a powerful new tool for sharing customer experience - in the same way that social networking sites provoke debate and discussion and mobilise opinion. Judgment on public services will no longer be the preserve of anonymous government inspectors.
Already the NHS choices website enables patients to make decisions based on reviews and other ratings.
In education, we are committed to giving all parents of secondary school pupils guaranteed online access to what their child is learning and enabling them to monitor their progress whenever is convenient for them. We will encourage schools to use text messaging to provide up-to-date information on truancy, out of school clubs and unplanned school closures.
Through the new online crime maps which went live last month - allowing for the first time everyone in the country to search by postcode for facts about crime in their area and what is being done about it - we are exploring how people can use police data on late-night incidents to help them choose the safest routes home and to post travel tips and security tip-offs for others.
And through our “tell us once” pilot, citizens no longer have to contact many different central and local government organisations with the same information. We will be rolling out that service nationally for births and deaths in 2010 and we are working with local authorities to pilot a similar tell us once service for change of addresses.
In this way people will no longer be passive recipients of services but, through dialogue and engagement, active participants - shaping, controlling and determining what is best for them.
And I can announce today that we will actively publish all public services performance data online during 2010 completing the process by 2011. Crime data, hospital costs and parts of the national pupil database will go on line in 2010. We will use this data to benchmark the best and the worst and drive better value for money.
It will have a direct effect on how we allocate resources. We will introduce next year NHS tariffs based on best practice on the ground not average price. And we will be benchmarking the whole of the prison and probation system by 2011.
And we will give our frontline services greater freedoms and flexibilities to respond innovatively to this data, reducing the number of ring fenced budgets, rationalising different central funding projects and joining-up capital funding within a local area.
Releasing data can and must unleash the innovation and entrepreneurship at which Britain excels - one of the most powerful forces of change we can harness.
When, for example, figures on London’s most dangerous roads for cyclists were published, an online map detailing where accidents happened was produced almost immediately to help cyclists avoid blackspots and reduce the numbers injured.
And after data on dentists went live, an iphone application was created to show people where the nearest surgery was to their current location.
And from April next year ordnance survey will open up information about administrative boundaries, postcode areas and mid-scale mapping.
All of this will be available for free commercial re-use, enabling people for the first time to take the material and easily turn it into applications, like fix my street or the postcode paper.
And I can further announce today that, again from next April, we will also release public transport data hitherto inaccessible or expensive and release significant underlying data for weather forecasts for free download and re-use.
See the full PM’s speech on Smarter Government and the Smarter Government Paper. Alongside the Smarter Government paper there are also two adddtional papers which you will need to note:
• Benchmarking the Back Office: Central Government Annex A: Benchmarking data
• Operational Efficiency Programme: Asset Portfolio