David Cameron's Transparency Revolution? The Impact of Open Data in the UK

24 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2013 Last revised: 6 Dec 2013

See all articles by Ben Worthy

Ben Worthy

University of London - Birkbeck College

Date Written: November 29, 2013


This article examines the impact of the UK Government’s Transparency agenda, focusing on the publication of spending data at local government level. It measures the democratic impact in terms of creating transparency and accountability, public participation and everyday information. The study uses a survey of local authorities, interviews and FOI requests to build a picture of use and impact.

It argues that the spending data has led to some accountability, though from those already monitoring government rather than citizens. It has not led to increased participation, as it lacks the narrative or accountability instruments to fully bring such effects. Nor has it created a new stream of information to underpin citizen choice, though new innovations offer this possibility. The evidence points to third party innovations as the key. They can contextualise and ‘localise’ information as a first step in more effective accountability.

The superficially simple and neutral reforms conceal complex political dynamics. The very design lends itself to certain framing effects, further compounded by assumptions and blurred concepts and a lack of accountability instruments to resolve problems raised by the data.

Keywords: Open Data, Transparency

Suggested Citation

Worthy, Ben, David Cameron's Transparency Revolution? The Impact of Open Data in the UK (November 29, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2361428 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2361428

Ben Worthy (Contact Author)

University of London - Birkbeck College ( email )

Malet Street
London, WC1E 7HX
United Kingdom

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