The Royal Statistical Society has today (15 July 2019), along with ten other organisations, signed an open letter (PDF) to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Wright, calling on the UK government to ensure the it uses the National Data Strategy and forthcoming Spending Review to transform the way the UK utilises its data.
The group calls for the National Data Strategy to go beyond public services and help shape how data is used in areas such as research funding, procurement rules, regulatory activities and legislation.
‘Without major and sustained effort, the UK risks falling behind other countries over the next decade and never being able to catch up,’ the letter warns.
The letter has been signed by the Royal Statistical Society, Institute for Government, Full Fact, Nesta, the Open Data Institute, mySociety, the Open Knowledge Foundation, the Open Contracting Partnership, 360Giving, OpenOwnership, and the Policy Institute at King’s College London.
The letter calls for the National Data Strategy to be transformative rather than piecemeal. ‘Too often, at present, different departments have conflicting values and incentives which prevent data being used for the public benefit,’ it says. ‘Looking beyond central government, it should also empower local government structures in their use of data.’ The letter calls for the project to set out a vision for the next decade at least, and to engage across political parties to ensure long-term buy-in.
Other calls made in the letter include investing in data skills to convert the growing amount of data into real information and resourcing for data literacy; for government to sort out its data infrastructure and to engage with the public around the use of citizen data to help ensure that public trust is earned.
RSS executive director Hetan Shah said: ‘The RSS was pleased to co-sign this letter with other organisations which have a shared belief in the power of data and evidence, to raise the profile of this issue when there is a danger that it could otherwise slip off the table.’
Read our response to the National Data Strategy consultation, submitted earlier this month.