Getty Images/Image Source

DCMS seeks outside experts to review government data sharing ahead of spending review

The DCMS is seeking consultants to undertake a short-term but strategic project to figure out how to improve data sharing across government ahead of the comprehensive spending review, rolled over from 2019 to 2020

Ahead of the comprehensive spending review (CSR), the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is looking for consultants to undertake a short-term project to improve data sharing across government.

The CSR was rolled over by Theresa May’s government from last year to this and will set budgets across Whitehall for three years.

The project’s goal, according to a DCMS call for applicants, is to: “Identify barriers to public sector data sharing and ensure better use of data for improved delivery of public services. The study should deliver recommendations on how to maximise the benefits of data held by government bodies. This should include recommendations around systems, structures, practices and methodology.”

The contract, which is worth £60,000 for work to be done over six weeks during April and May 2020, will see the successful supplier work with the DCMS public sector policy team and the national data strategy team in the data policy directorate. It could be extended beyond six weeks, according to the call for applicants. If so, one of the objects of continued work will be to understand “how useful data emerges after sweeping away legacy technology”.

The DCMS public sector policy team designed and implemented the Digital Economy Act 2017. It has been developing a cross-government fund for data projects with the Government Digital Service (GDS) and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to prepare for the Budget, as well as the CSR.

In June 2019, the UK government published guidance for a national data strategy (NDS). At that time, the DCMS outlined a two-phased consultation focused on evidence-building, stakeholder engagement and testing the strategic framework.

The initial phase was launched in June 2019, with a call for evidence based on the “pillars” of people, economy and government, with a series of roundtables being held around those themes, with representatives of academia, the public and private sectors, as well as bodies representing citizens.

The second phase was a full consultation, open to everyone, in the autumn of 2019.

Since then, a new government has been elected, and its chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, is well known to have brought with him an intense enthusiasm for data analysis as a tool to restructure Whitehall.

The call for applicants states “the government wants radical, transformative change for the use of data across government”. It also says the DCMS public sector policy team and the national data strategy team are in receipt of “extensive assessment of the government’s use of data from the National Audit Office” that the consultants will be able to work from.

The successful team will, it is hoped, be multidisciplinary, with “strategists to scope and design options, economists to measure impact, data scientists or technical specialists to understand practical application and evaluate usefulness, and legal and ethics experts to test feasibility”.

The closing date for applications is 20 March, with work due to begin on 1 April at the latest.

Read more about data policy in government

Read more on Big data analytics

Data Center
Data Management