Models of Public Sector Information via Trading Funds

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= UK govt. commissioned report about the economic impact of Open Government Data



"Looking at the arms of government most dependent on selling data and taking conservative and pessimistic scenarios throughout, the study - Models of Public Sector Information via Trading Funds - concludes that the benefits of giving government data away outweigh the loss of income from licence fees from the current practice of "cost recovery" by more than £160m for the largest six "trading funds" alone.

It also rebuts claims that a move to "free data" would damage the work done by agencies such as the Met Office and Ordnance Survey.

The Treasury and Cabinet Office commissioned the study from a team of economists at the University of Cambridge in response to last summer's government 2.0 review the Power of Information.

The analysis was carried out by three Cambridge academics: Professor David Newbery of the Faculty of Economics, Professor Lionel Bently of the Faculty of Law and Rufus Pollock a fellow in economics at Emmanuel College. (Pollock is also a founder of the Open Knowledge Foundation which campaigns against restrictions to knowledge-sharing.)

The 147-page report, dated February 26 cites a battery of reasons, including removing the market distortion and overheads involved in trying to set a price that covers an agency's costs and encouraging the uptake of information and the beneficial innovation that will result. The report also dismisses the claim made by advocates of cost recovery that tight funding encourages innovation. This case is weak for public enterprises not subject to regulation and providing monopoly services without fear of competition

And for those naysayers: The findings will be hard to dismiss. Unlike previous studies, they are based on hard figures from the trading funds affected. It also takes a holistic view, for example taking into account the overall cost to society of the extra taxation needed to pay for free data." (

More Information

  1. Open Data
  2. Open Government Data