Government to share more data in fraud fight

The government has announced a set of measures to increase data-sharing and encourage people to use public-sector services online
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor on

Prime minister Gordon Brown has outlined government plans to share more data, and to spend £30m encouraging people to use public-sector services online.

In announcing the programme, called Putting the Frontline First: Smarter Government, Brown said on Sunday that people expected more accountability and openness from government over the next decade.

"Government must change for the new era — and change for good," said Brown in a Cabinet Office statement. "This is the starting point for this plan."

As part of its programme, the government intends to review its anti-fraud work. A taskforce is being set up to build data-analysis technology that will work between the Department of Work and Pensions and HM Revenue & Customs, which will then be extended to other government departments, a Cabinet Office spokesperson told ZDNet UK on Monday.

"The taskforce will seek to match data across government," said the spokesperson.

Another plan is to open up data and to put more public information online, including Ordnance Survey map data, real-time railway timetables, and data underpinning NHS Choices, the health-service portal.

"We plan to put as much public data online as possible, in an easily reusable format," said the Cabinet Office spokesperson.

The government will also launch data.gov.uk early next year, said the spokesperson, in order to allow people to mash-up government statistics.

More government departments will share information about births and deaths in an extension of the 'Tell Us Once' programme. Tell Us Once, which aims to reduce the number of times people have to inform government about changes to their lives, has been trialled in Southwark and will be rolled out throughout 2010.

In addition, Brown announced a £30m scheme to train people how to use government services online, including applying for and managing student loans, Jobseeker's Allowance and Child Tax Credits. The government expects to save £600m by reducing the number of face-to-face government/citizen transactions.

Other cost savings are expected under the programme: £650m is expected to be clawed back by cutting consultancy budgets by half, and marketing and communications spending by a quarter. Pay reforms in the public sector and reorganisation in the senior Civil Service are expected to save £100m a year.

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