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Task Force Launch Speech

Power of Information: New taskforce

Speech by Tom Watson MP, Minister for Transformational Government

Monday, March 31 2008

We commissioned Ed Mayo [External website] and Tom Steinberg [External website] to write the Power of Information report [External website] because we knew that information, presented in the right way, was a potent driver for improving public services and government.

We also knew that there were new forms of community out there which government wasn’t currently able to talk to.

Tom and Ed did not let any of us down. Their report was comprehensive. Radical. Full of ideas. I’d like to thank them for their important contribution to the future. Public Sector Information and the need to engage new information communities were the original reasons we commissioned Power of Information.

Today I am going to offer two arguments that I think compliment the Prime Minister’s recent announcement on public service reform.

Firstly, that freeing up data will allow us to unlock the talent British entrepreneurs. And secondly, engaging people – using the simple tools that bring them together – will allow the talents of all our people to be applied to the provision of public services.

Free up data, liberate talent and catalyse creativity. Engage bring people together using simple tools and you empower. Let me tell you that I view the Power of Information agenda as the single most important policy area I have to deliver on in my role as Cabinet Office Minister.

It took me a bit of time to reach this conclusion. Understanding the implications of the report is a bit like asking the question, what is the Matrix? [External website] such is the profundity of the contents. But as a former trainee assistant librarian, how we collate, store, process, understand and use data is something that I’ve had an unnecessary fascination for many years.

And the Power of Information contributes an answer to a wider question about how government can develop the framework to manage our collective intellectual capital in the modern age.

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