Friday, June 25, 2010

Restricted No Longer Means Restricted

In a government world where transparency is the way of doing things, where:

- Senior civil servants earning more than £150,000 are named for everyone to see

- Special advisors are named and if they earn more than £58,200 their salaries are declared

- Organisation charts for the Cabinet Office and Number 10 are published

- OGC Gateway reports will be published

- Central government tender documents above £10k will be published in one place

- Full disclosure of all central government spending will be the default

- Non-personal datasets will be published in an open and standardised format (including crime, education and health data)

- Local government will be mandated to publish meeting minutes, local service and performance data

- Local councils will publish details of all items of expenditure above £500

Then I wonder whether such data and document classifications such as Protect and Restricted have become redundant?

Confidential would mean anything that was personal or perhaps security-related and it would be assumed that everything else was, by default, public. This perhaps ought to have been one of the consequences of FoI but, if not then, why not now?

If that was the case, then does the need for some government security processes, networks and facilities fall away ... and so do costs come down and the opportunities to make use of online tools (such as calendars, social networks, google services, collaboration tools like backpack and so on) become available?

1 comment:

  1. Its interesting to decide whether there is a line between a right to ask and a duty to be told.  FOI gives people the right to ask.  Publishing data gives people the right to go look for themselves.  But should there be a duty to tell?  I can for instance wait to be asked why an IT project went wrong (the findings of an investigation for example) or we could find the report on an open gov site and go look.

    But there is a meta knowledge issue here.  I need to know what to look for and what to ask.  Perhaps if there was a duty to report failures etc as well as the FOI then maybe less issues would occur.  Its the old adage about driving.  Dont fit air bags to car steering wheels, fit 10 inch spikes, that will slow people down.

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