Cabinet Office
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Government takes next steps towards online future

Government takes next steps towards online future

CABINET OFFICE News Release (CAB033/09) issued by COI News Distribution Service on 7 May 2009

Minister for Digital Engagement Tom Watson today outlined the next steps in the Government's Power of Information programme.

In a speech to the NESTA / UNESCO Public Service Media 2009 Conference the Minister announced plans for an overhaul of Crown Copyright rules that will make it easier for citizens to re-use Government information, and new standards that will improve the quality of official websites.

Tom Watson MP said:

"Just over a year ago 'Power of Information' was simply a 15-page document. Today it's an integral part of the way the Government does business. We'll be formally responding to the PoI Taskforce's excellent report shortly, but I'm delighted to say that some of their recommendations are already taking form.

"They say information is power, but only distributed information is truly empowering. That's why the Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) has looked again at the restrictions of Crown Copyright, and now a licence will automatically be granted to anyone wanting to use the information rather than having to apply beforehand. This will makes things easier for the kind of innovative individuals who entered Show Us a Better Way to access the data they need to create brilliant new applications. OPSI has also shown how Government can publish in a 'web-friendly' way rather than just as PDFs, and I want to see this approach rolled out across Government.

"The Central Office of Information has done outstanding work in reducing the number of websites and making those that are left more accessible. Today I'm pleased to announce that COI is launching new standards on quality to make Government sites as effective and easy to use as possible."

Notes to editors

The event was organised by the UK National Commission for UNESCO, along with the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) and Golant Films.

The Power of Information review was commissioned by the Minister for the Cabinet Office Hilary Armstrong, in February 2007. It was carried out by Tom Steinberg, Director of mySociety and Ed Mayo, Chief Executive of the National Consumer Council.

The Power of Information Task Force was established by Cabinet Office Minister Tom Watson MP in March 2008 in order to draw-up the government's response to the recomendations of the Power of Information report which was announced today.

Show Us A Better Way was a Cabinet Office competition that asked citiizens to 'mash-up' Govermnent-held data into the kind of online public services they wanted to see. For more information visit:
Of the 1,649 websites identified in the Departmental Website Reviews for closure, 762 were closed by the end of March 2009.

COI working with the Cabinet Office have delivered the following standards and guidelines for improving government web estate in financial year 2008/09 to provide a common benchmark against which government websites are measured.

- Increasing finability through XML sitemaps
- Delivering inclusive websites
- Naming and registering websites
- Browser testing
- Archiving websites
- Managing URLs
- Exposing websites to search engines
- Measuring website costs
- Measuring website usage

These provide a common benchmark against which government websites
are measured to ensure consistent and high quality public services.

The COI has launched a Usability Toolkit, a learning resource for digital communicators across government to ensure the minimum standards of usability are applied.

For more information, please contact:
Cabinet Office Press Office 22 Whitehall LONDON SW1A 2WH
Tel: 020 7276 0317 - Fax: 020 7276 0618

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