• Open data could soon make the UK ‘FOI redundant’. Dr Gesche Schmid said that ‘open data is not only about accountability and transparency to hold councils to account but much more to help the switch from government providing public services to more citizen, community and business based activities.’ From early July 2014, participating councils will be eligible to receive monetary rewards for submitting schema-compliant data in a programme managed by the LGA and supported by the Release of Data and Breakthrough funds.

  • Juggling public perception and policy can often be a source of grief for local authorities. Ever since the Telegraph exposed the MPs’ expenses scandal five years ago, the public’s perception of those in charge has been undoubtedly tainted by the crisis, which doesn’t always make it easy for councils to engage with their communities. Thankfully, a recent survey by the LGA found that the general public trusts their council to make decisions more than those in Westminster – so breathe a sigh of relief.
  • Imagine you’re a bibliophylakes (records manager) in Roman Egypt. Every day you walk in to work at the demosia bibliotheke (records office) and records are piling in from all corners of the province. Records are collated into lists, the lists go out for exetasis (scrutinisation), and the Empire keeps ticking over; the accountability of the state is facilitated by and based in that office. How is the duty of records management any different today?
  • If you were to tell someone where you lived, what would you say? You’d probably mention your town or, as long as it’s not a mouthful, your electoral ward. But what relevance does that hold to the immediate area outside your door? And, if you were to break it down even further, you’re certainly not going to say that you live in Manchester 042A, for example. The truth is that many administrative and statistical geographies bear little relevance in the real world to how people refer to their local area.
  • Kent County Council’s Legal Services team in conjunction with LG Inform Plus and the esd-standards team has published guidance on the legal powers and duties of every English and Welsh local authority and fire authority.  The guidance points to what services your council must deliver and what it has the power to deliver if it chooses.

  • Extensions to the Freedom of Information Act that came into force from 1 September 2013 add to a raft of existing rules and incentives on councils to store, register and publish records. More than 50 councils met at the LGA on 1 October to review means of storing, publishing and sharing their information efficiently whilst adding value to information consumers. Kent Country Council unveiled the records retention guidance they have developed by for every service in the Local Government Service List. The meeting also launched work lead by Peterborough City Council to standardise inventories of datasets and share schemas. Over the coming months the standard approach will be implemented in the London Borough of Redbridge’s DataShare utility and in extensions to data.gov.uk.
  • From today, there’s a new look to the esd.org.uk pages – home to effective service delivery standards and evidence based improvement tools.
  • LG Inform is the LGA's free data service which presents you with up-to-date published data about your local area and the performance of your council. Whether you’re interested in scrutiny, a portfolio area or simply need an overview, LG Inform can help you review and compare performance with other authorities.
  • The Application Programming Interface (API) that drives LG Inform and LG Inform Plus is now open to subscribing Local Authorities providing a direct data feed to out 2000 plus metrics for use in your own specialist reporting.