Government releases first wave of multi-million pound open data fund

The government has announced a £1.5m grant to be invested in organisations championing the open data initiative

The government has announced a £1.5m grant to be invested in organisations championing the open data initiative.

This first round of funding will support both projects working on releasing public data as well as those training civil servants in their understandings of open data.

The minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, said: “The UK is a world leader in opening up data because we know that it creates a more accountable, efficient and effective government. Open data is a raw material for economic growth, supporting the creation of new markets, businesses and jobs and helping us compete in the global race. To ensure this agenda continues to thrive, we are supporting a number of projects which will drive forward this culture of openness.”

The Open Data User Group (ODUG), which acts as a bridge between the community and government, has chosen a number of organisations to receive allotments of the £1.5m grant.

One such recipient is the Open Data Institute (ODI), which has received £150,000, part of which will be used to train dozens of Whitehall staff to use and understand open data.

The ODI’s head of training, Kathryn Corrick, said: “We’re delighted to support more civil servants in getting up to speed with the latest developments in publishing and using open data. There’s no doubt that the UK is a world leader in releasing public sector information as open data, and this training will ensure the quality and usability of that data for everyone.”

The cash will fund two separate initiatives being run by the ODI. The first, worth £50,000, will enable 74 key staff from government departments to attend ODI courses, including the one-day Open Data in a Day and five-day intensive Open Data in Practice programmes.

The second project will focus specifically on embedding open data in public sector procurement practices. £100,000 will be spent in training 120 procurement officers and producing an online guide.

The release of data fund allocation projects include:

  • Local Government Association Voucher Scheme: Proposal to unlock open data from local authorities by offering open data training vouchers for one data set, and cash for three data sets. Proposal will allow local authority data to be made available.
  • Leeds Data Mill: Proposal for Leeds Council to create a hub for data to support citizens by making data about public services freely available. Funding for future stages will be reviewed in due course.
  • Legislative Openness: Proposal to make Department of Work and Pensions legislative data downloadable as bulk data. Proposal will bring the UK in line with best practice on the Open Data Census.
  • Data Issue Tracker: Proposal to implement a robust reporting mechanism to identify broken links on This proposal is expected to drive down data requests by 30%.
  • Local Data Census: Proposal is a survey of the availability of open data at local and city level across the UK. The project will allow analysis of available data sets and identification of areas lacking data.
  • Open data training for civil servants: Data courses to be provided for civil servants. This proposal will improve skill levels at handling data within the civil service, and will contribute towards a culture change towards being open by default.
  • Open data procurement training: Proposal to develop a range of materials, training and support about open data for all those involved with public procurement.
  • Housing Big Data: Proposal to create anonymised Open Data extracts of Housing Association data. This will help inform the social housing sector and derive significant benefits.The government is helping to unlock more data from public bodies by awarding £1.5m to a variety of projects as part of the Release of Data fund, with further funding to follow later this year.

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