In some sectors, data that would better inform accountability or choice is either not held or not yet made available. For example, in local government services, the government has discontinued established performance frameworks and the Local Government Association is developing a new approach to performance reporting.
The report, however, does recognise the strength of the strategic case for greater transparency, and highlights progress across government in fulfilling most of its initial commitments.
The NAO makes a number of recommendations in the report to address its conclusions that:
- the government cannot maximise the net benefits of transparency without an evaluative framework for measuring the success and value for money of its transparency initiatives
- the government will not maximise the benefits of transparency if it does not further embed good practice principles
- many data releases have no accompanying statement as to their quality or reliability – running the risk of misleading potential users
- public service users cannot exercise their choice and hold service providers to account if the government fails to align transparency with choice and accountability
- the government cannot extract best value from public sector information, if it does not improve on current estimates of the information’s value.
The Guardian reports that the government will look at the NAO recommendations to set up frameworks to evaluate the impact and value of its transparency projects.
The government's proposed 'Open Data Institute' will have a role to improve evidence on economic and public service benefits of open data, although the range and scope of its work is not yet clear.