The government will publish online all public service contracts worth more than £20,000 by the end of 2010, Gordon Brown has said in a speech on Building Britain’s Digital Future.
Speaking this morning, the Prime Minister outlined how country-wide broadband and an increase in online, interactive, personalised public services would create “immense opportunities” to transform the way citizens interact with government.
He also echoed a pledge made by the Conservatives in their technology manifesto to publish government contracts online.
The Conservatives said that if they won the coming general election, they would publish contracts for goods and services worth more than £25,000. The Tories have also promised to publish in full, including details such as break clauses and penalty measures.
Brown said: “By the end of the year, all public service contracts over £20,000 will be available on a single, free, easy to use online portal, and the data will be available free of charge for others to use and reuse.”
In the most substantial part of his speech, Brown re-iterated his belief in the importance of technology and the government’s commitment to roll out ‘super fast’ broadband across the country.
He also said he wanted to “break down the walled garden of government using technology and information to provide greater transparency on the workings of Whitehall and give everyone more say over the services they receive.”
He said the recently launched MyGov website will provide simple dashboards that will allow people to get information and communicate with public service providers more easily.
He said this would include allowing “patients to fix their doctors or hospital appointment and control their own treatment.”
He added: “It could soon be commonplace for… doctors to hold video consultations from their surgeries with patients at home to diagnose and in some cases even treat them.”
The speech, which comes ahead of Wednesday’s budget, claimed that the £11 billion efficiency savings announced in the Pre-Budget Report could be enabled by increased transparency and reduced costs made available by new technology.
Brown also said that he would “make a radical set of proposals which include transfers and shifts in existing spending, including being prepared to cancel current projects” in order to help save billions of pounds a year in public sector costs.
Brown said that technology must now be used to open up data with the aim of providing “every citizen in Britain with true ownership and accountability with the services they demand from government.”
He promised to add even more datasets than the 3,000 that are already available on data.gov and added that in the autumn the government would publish online an inventory of all non-personal datasets held by departments and arms-length bodies- a “Domesday Book” for the 21st Century.