The final version of the Power of Information Taskforce report is out, with recommendations in six main areas:
- enhancing Digital Britons’ online experience by providing expert help from the public sector online where people seek it;
- creating a capability for the UK public sector to work with both internal and external innovators;
- improving the way government consults with the public;
- freeing up the UK’s mapping and address data for use in new services;
- ensuring that public sector information is made as simple as possible for people to find and use;
- building capacity in the UK public sector to take advantage of the opportunities offered by digital technologies.
No chance to read it yet, let alone compare it with the original draft (which is still available with all the comments on it), so I am still at the level of first impressions – which of course matter a lot, not least for all those who will never read the whole thing. On the substance, it looks first rate: it has a clear and coherent set of recommendations, each of which is cogently and succinctly argued.
The one apparent weakness is the executive summary. It harks back to a distant time when a summary was exactly that, with none of this 'executive' nonsense tagged on the front: if you read it, you have a sense of what is in the report. But it isn't written as a hook to pull in somebody who doesn't already know why they should be interested. There's an argument for not scaring the horses too much: the full implementation of all the taskforce recommendations would add up to a radical change in the way government does business. But the recommendations won't get implemented without communicating a sense of excitement and a sense of why these changes are unavoidably the right things to be doing.
Maybe that needs to be a separate and slightly different document – but I am pretty sure that it is a necessary part of the marketing drive which is needed to make all this work. As I observed on the draft in a different context, there's a need to get the reading right as well as the writing.