It's difficult to keep up. This morning I was wondering what would be happening on spending transparency and now the full coalition programme offers more detail.
The Government believes that we need to throw open the doors of public bodies, to enable the public to hold politicians and public bodies to account. We also recognise that this will help to deliver better value for money in public spending, and help us achieve our aim of cutting the record deficit. Setting government data free will bring significant economic benefits by enabling businesses and non-profit organisations to build innovative applications and websites.
- We will require public bodies to publish online the job titles of every member of staff and the salaries and expenses of senior officials paid more than the lowest salary permissible in Pay
Band 1 of the Senior Civil Service pay scale, and organograms that include all positions in those bodies.
- We will require anyone paid more than the Prime Minister in the centrally funded public sector to have their salary signed off by the Treasury.
- We will regulate lobbying through introducing a statutory register of lobbyists and ensuring greater transparency.
- We will also pursue a detailed agreement on limiting donations and reforming party funding in order to remove big money from politics.
- We will strengthen the powers of Select Committees to scrutinise major public appointments.
- We will introduce new protections for whistleblowers in the public sector.
- We will take steps to open up government procurement and reduce costs; and we will publish government ICT contracts online.
- We will create a level playing field for opensource software and will enable large ICT projects to be split into smaller components.
- We will require full, online disclosure of all central government spending and contracts over £25,000.
- We will create a new ‘right to data’ so that government-held datasets can be requested and used by the public, and then published on a regular basis.
- We will require all councils to publish meeting minutes and local service and performance data.
- We will require all councils to publish items of spending above £500, and to publish contracts and tender documents in full.
- We will ensure that all data published by public bodies is published in an open and standardised format, so that it can be used easily and with minimal cost by third parties.
I think all this is encouraging. But spending transparency will also be a matter of the culture f the Government. It will be abut the spirit of this new approach as well as the letter of the rules. David Cameron should encourage his cabinet ministers to embrace the approach of making their spending open to scrutiny – rather than do the minimum they can get away with. Conservative councils should also get cracking on this – they should jump before being pushed.