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United Kingdom

Grants Data (UK0090)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: United Kingdom Action Plan 2019-2021

Action Plan Cycle: 2019

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Cabinet Office

Support Institution(s): 360Giving

Policy Areas

Access to Information, E-Government, Open Data, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: United Kingdom Transitional Results Report 2019-2021, United Kingdom Design Report 2019-2021

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Major Major

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Objective
Working with users across government, the Cabinet Office Grants Efficiency
Function will increase the transparency of government grant funding for the
2018/19 and 2019/20 financial years.
The Cabinet Office Grants Efficiency Function will continue to assist
departments in ensuring that grant making across government is efficient and
that funding is being used effectively.
DCMS will host a Ministerial event bringing together key sector partners to
discuss how to collectively improve data infrastructure and open data
publication to support the third sector.

What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
The government spends more than £113bn a year on grants. Traditionally,
individual departments and teams have managed grants information internally.
There was no central mechanism to collate data on grants and no reliable way
of scrutinising government grants activity.

How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?
The Government Grants Information System (GGIS) enables information on
grant schemes (programmes) and the associated awards to be captured and
shared with other government departments in a simple, standardised, and
scalable way. The insight obtained from the GGIS enables grant managers to
improve the effectiveness of their grant making and ensure greater scrutiny by
identifying areas of potential inefficiency or fraud throughout the grant making
process.
The GGIS will reinforce our drive for efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency
in how we do our business in government and will give us greater assurance of
identifying and preventing fraud.
Publishing granular data in the 360Giving Standard makes the data more
meaningful and useful, both for government and for external users, as it is
possible to see and compare grants made by charitable trusts and foundations
alongside government grants. This makes it easier to identify gaps and overlaps
as well as areas of need, and to see changes in funding over time.

Lead implementing organisation
Cabinet Office

Timeline
September 2018 - Autumn 2019

OGP values
Access to information, Technology and innovation for openness and
accountability

Other actors involved - government
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
Other actors involved - CSOs, private sector, working groups, multilaterals
etc
360Giving

Verifiable and measurable milestones to fulfil the
commitment

Publish more granular and even better quality 17/18
financial year data, to 360Giving Standard in the
Autumn of 2018.

DCMS Ministerial event with key sector partners - to
discuss how to collectively improve data infrastructure,
open data publication to support the third sector and
ensure that the data is effectively used.

The 18/19 financial year granular data, in line with the
360Giving Standard will be published in the Autumn of
2019.

DCMS and its Arms-length bodies will ensure all
relevant grants data is uploaded on the Government
Grants Information System at awards level including
third party data from onward grantees, in line with
360Giving.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

1. Grants Data

Main Objective

“Working with users across government, the Cabinet Office Grants Efficiency Function will increase the transparency of government grant funding for the 2018/19 and 2019/20 financial years.

The Cabinet Office Grants Efficiency Function will continue to assist departments in ensuring that grant making across government is efficient and that funding is being used effectively.

DCMS will host a Ministerial event bringing together key sector partners to discuss how to collectively improve data infrastructure and open data publication to support the third sector.”

Milestones

  1. Publish more granular and even better quality 17/18 financial year data, to 360Giving Standard in the Autumn of 2018.
  2. DCMS Ministerial event with key sector partners - to discuss how to collectively improve data infrastructure, open data publication to support the third sector and ensure that the data is effectively used.
  3. The 18/19 financial year granular data, in line with the 360Giving Standard will be published in the Autumn of 2019.
  4. DCMS and its Arm’s-length bodies will ensure all relevant grants data is uploaded on the Government Grants Information System at awards level including third party data from onward grantees, in line with 360Giving.

Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see the United Kingdom’s action plan at https://bit.ly/2YPqNoV.

IRM Design Report Assessment

Verifiable:

Yes

Relevant:

Access to Information, Civic Participation

Potential impact:

Minor

Commitment Analysis
This commitment aims to make a greater amount of government grants data accessible in a format that enables greater research and scrutiny. It continues from Commitment 6 from the UK’s third action plan (2016-2018), which saw the development of the Government Grants Information System (GGIS) [1] database and the publication of more granular grants data than was previously available. However, by the end of the third action plan period, only two out of 17 central departments published their grants data in line with the 360Giving Standard format (first adopted in 2015). [2] The commitment in the current action plan, therefore, aims to publish all remaining grant data from the other 15 central departments in the 360Giving Standard. [3]

The activities of this commitment include publishing grants data for individual financial years in line with the 360Giving Standard, conducting a ministerial event to discuss how to improve the government’s grant data infrastructure, and uploading all relevant grants data to the GGIS. The commitment is relevant to the OGP value of access to information due to the focus on further disclosing granular data on government grants. It is also relevant to the OGP value of civic participation due to the planned ministerial event where the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will discuss how to collectively improve data infrastructure with “sector partners”, though the details of this event are not provided in the action plan.

Financial information on government grants represents a significant volume of data that, if published openly and completely, could contribute to greater deliberation, research and accountability. Better access to this data could in turn help civil society to better scrutinise government grantmaking practices and performances. However, the first milestone, to publish 2017/2018 financial year data in the 360Giving Standard was scheduled to be completed in autumn 2018, before the official start of the action plan. The publication of data for the 2018/2019 financial year will continue the existing practice and not go beyond what has been published in previous years in terms of the parameters of data. In addition, the government can still apply broad exemptions, primarily concerning commercial sensitivities, to withhold publication. The wording of the commitment includes references to increasing efficiency and effectiveness in government grantmaking, but these issues are not addressed in the milestones. [4] Therefore, it is difficult to assess the potential impact as higher than minor.

In terms of next steps, the IRM recommends the government conduct ongoing dialogues with civil society to consider how grants data can be best used to improve efficiency and effectiveness. The IRM also recommends that the government decrease the extent and breadth of the use of exemptions to withhold grants data and provide more clarity in the reasons for opting for exemptions in each case.

[3] 360Standard, A standard for sharing grants data, http://standard.threesixtygiving.org/en/latest/
[4] Tania Cohen, 360Giving, interview 17 July 2020.

Commitments

Open Government Partnership