The Centre for Public Data – A new organisation with a mission to improve the UK’s public data

Above: Scoreboard for baseball game at the annual field day of the FSA Farm Security Administration farmworkers community, Yuma, Arizona. Russell Lee Feb 1942.
Library of Congress

The Mohn Westlake Foundation is happy to support the Centre for Public Data (CFPD), a new, non-partisan organisation with a mission to improve the quality of the UK's public data.

CFPD works to influence new legislation and policy to help civil society organisations get the data they need to succeed. They also research and document the impacts of failures to collect data.

At a glance…

  • CFPD's goal is to influence policymakers to include robust provisions on the collection and publication of public data in emerging policy areas, to support stronger civil society and policy delivery in the UK.
  • They work with civil society partners, and political partners across the spectrum, to provide expert technical, data-focussed input to consultations and drafting.
  • Their longer-term aim is to catalyse institutional change within government, helping civil servants see data provisions a core part of the policy development process, rather than to create a permanent institution.
  • As of summer 2021, their areas of focus include data-related provisions in the Subsidy Control Bill, the forthcoming Renters’ Reform White Paper, and the government’s review of the Gambling Act.

Data is crucial to the work of civil society, yet often civil society is hampered by a lack of good public data - data produced or regulated by government. CFPD’s theory of change is that data collected or published by public institutions is produced because a decision has been made to do so. They believe such decisions are susceptible to pressure – and unlike many more entrenched political issues, often just a little pressure can bring about positive change. CFPD was established because there was no existing organisation exclusively focused on this work.

Above: Conversion. Copper and brass processing. Not King Midas counting out his money, but an inspector in a cartridge case shop examining cartridge case blanks or discs for flaws in metal structure. Alfred T. Palmer Feb 1942.
Library of Congress

In their first year of operation, CFPD worked with peers to raise an amendment to the Agriculture Bill on the publication of farm payments data, and influenced the Government to U-turn on publishing data on the businesses given taxpayer-subsidised emergency loans during the coronavirus pandemic.

Our grant is allowing CFPD to scale up their operations, particularly growing their capacity to work on research and advocacy.

Above: "No Vacancy" sign hung out at tourist court. San Diego, California. Russell Lee Dec  1940. Library of Congress

For more information about this project please visit their website:

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