Why, what and how: modernising Defra

People beyond ‘the world of Whitehall-watching’ should care about reform in government, Liz Truss told an audience at a recent Institute for Government event, because ‘the how’ is inextricably linked to the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ – the mission a country has. For Liz Truss, the Government’s mission is ‘to build Britain’s economy and society in this turnaround decade’ and improve productivity. The mission of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is to be at the forefront of ‘the next phase of change’ in how government works. Truss’s speech was structured around four aims – for the department to be more integrated, more open, more modern and more local. We’ve taken five themes of the speech to see what those aims might mean in practice. Data One of the most prominent signals of Defra’s modernisation has been the promise to open up 8,000 datasets. The Secretary of State confirmed this was on track for June, and this would represent a third of all government open data. Opening up the data has already led to innovation – Truss used the example of LIDAR data (a 3D map of the country) and its adoption by skyscraper architects, Minecraft developers […]

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