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How Open Data Can Help Tackle Corruption – Policy Paper

This policy paper provides a summary of our research into how open data can be used to tackle corruption. This research involved analysing 95 case studies of corrupt behaviour and identifying the primary method of finding this information.

We found that whilst open data has not historically been used to identify incidents of corruption in the UK it can be used to deter and detect corrupt acts, and should be an integral part of the UK’s anti-corruption toolkit.

The research also identified particular types of data that could be more relevant to specific types of corrupt behaviours, and found that open data’s role in tackling corruption can differ dramatically depending on whether the behaviour is illegal or not. Law enforcement investigations appear to be the best method of identifying criminal activity, whilst open data can play a more powerful role in informing public debate about activity that is not technically illegal or a breach of certain rules, but nevertheless ethically questionable.

Recommendations for change

Based on this research, we have made 45 proposals for the UK Government and public bodies to take forward as part of its UK Anti-Corruption Plan. TI-UK has also made three major recommendations that they should take forward as a matter of priority:

  • The UK Government should empower an open data authority with the necessary resources and powers to maintain consistent standards of proactive disclosure across the public sector and public services that are outsourced to the private sector.
  • The UK Government should bring forward legislation to reform the statutory register of lobbyists, so it covers both in-house and consultant lobbyists and provides meaningful detail about lobbying activities in the UK.
  • To improve detection and deterrence of lobbying abuses we recommend the UK Government:
    1. Improves the timeliness and quality of data published about meetings between lobbyists and Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Special Advisers.
    2. Extend this proactive publication to include minutes of meetings involving major decisions.
    3. Publish details of all secondments to and from private sector.

The TACOD project was co-funded by the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme of the European Union.


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  • Report published: Jun 2015

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