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5 July 2007

A block to transparency?

By Mike Butcher

The government is obstructing a bill to establish a new website for information on public sector spending on the grounds that it would cost too much.

The bill originated in the House of Lords, but is now being led by Conservative MP David Gauke. He argues – not without merit – that it would improve transparency and enable people to engage in important public debates: “What better way of providing information is there than putting the details of public expenditure on to a single website, where people can study it and follow the money to see how government spending is done?” he says.

The US is leading the way on this issue. There, any federal expenditure in excess of $25,000 must be recorded and the details made available on a website accessible by the public. But here Cabinet Office minister Gillian Merron said the bill was unrealistic on the grounds of cost.

This is more or less with the New Statesman New Media awards exist, and in many respect why the category of Information and Openness exists. Perhaps some enterprising web startup will do it instead?

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