Is data.gov.uk transparent?

June 26, 2012

A recent posting on the W3C egovernment discussion group was on the topic of IT procurement for eGov/transparency case studies and one of the members revealed that a project she was working on at the moment, involved mapping, with documentation (as documentary evidence), for each eGovernment initiative, how the IT resources were obtained. However when she “consulted the UK government last year, including issuing FOI requests, about the procurement, of CKAN for example, particularly wanted to learn what was the original spec /requirements for CKAN, and what kind of funding was granted, based on what agreement/tender. however, [she] was unable to access any document available, including no contract between the UK government and OKFn for the development of CKAN, although there is some evidence of moneys having been exchanged between the UK Government and OKFn for the purpose of funding CKAN development. ”

She then asked “Does anyone have any info?”

I suggested that “One would hope PDM could extract the information from the CKAN’s mouth itself – http://data.gov.uk/dataset/public-sector-procurement-spend” and suggested Paola look there…

However, Paola’s response was “I was not capable to answer the questions using the website http://data.gov.uk/. It looks to me that the website is designed especially to avoid making transparent  the information they are looking for (for example show me the contract between a and b, or how was decision x achieved?) This is what I mean that a service should be designed/driven with usage in mind, and not just stick the word usage as a popular trendy label ‘ (for example, to answer specific questions such as ‘what contractual agreement drives the development of an open data platform such as CKAN?) But if you can drill further with a better understanding of the data.gov platform, please assist! its possible that I am missing something”.

So if the technically proficient are having problems extracting procurement information from the UK government, why are there still claims to be open, transparent etc?

The ongoing conversation is on the W3C site. Can anybody help Paola? Is this transparency or not?

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