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UK Government commits to open up new spending data!

It’s exciting times right now for people in the UK interested in how public funds are being used. The new government has proposed to publish unprecedented amounts of spending data in unprecedented detail. In the new Coalition Programme for Government (PDF), the PM has committed to the following, which is very similar to the Conservative pre-election promises but with more detail and — crucially — a schedule!

  • Historic COINS spending data to be published online in June 2010.
  • All new central government ICT (information and communication technologies) contracts to be published online from July 2010.
  • All new central government lender documents for contracts over £10,000 to be published on a single website from September 2010, with this information to be made available to the public free of charge.
  • New items of central government spending over £25,000 to be published online from November 2010.
  • All new central government contracts to be published in full from January 2011.
  • Full information on all DFID international development projects over £500 to be published online from January 2011, including financial information and project documentation.
Local government spending transparency
  • New items of local government spending over £500 to be published on a council-by-council basis from January 2011.
  • New local government contracts and tender documents for expenditure over £500 to be published in full from January 2011.
Other key government datasets
  • Crime data to be published at a level that allows the public to see what is happening on their streets from January 2011.
  • Names, grades, job titles and annual pay rates for most Senior Civil Servants with salaries above £150,000 to be published in June 2010.
  • Names, grades, job titles and annual pay rates for most Senior Civil Servants and NDPB officials with salaries higher than the lowest permissible in Pay Band 1 of the Senior Civil Service pay scale to be published from September 2010.
  • Organograms for central government departments and agencies that include all staff positions to be published in a common format from October 2010.

This is all great news for the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Where Does My Money Go? project. In particular we have been researching the COINS database as a rich source of data to visualise. In addition, it is noted that the current standard for reporting central government spending(PDF) is items above £20m in any year by region, so the £25,000 standard seems like a big improvement, hopefully this will also be spending by region.

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