The Guardian newspaper is reporting that the Ordnance Survey (the UK's national mapping agency) is likely to feature in announcements on Budget Day (22nd April). Quote:
The future of British government's largest digital data business,
the mapping agency Ordnance Survey, looks set to enter the mainstream
political agenda for the first time in a decade. On budget day, 22
April, the Treasury is expected to release the broad findings of the
Shareholder Executive's review of the "trading fund" model of funding
agencies such as Ordnance Survey and the Land Registry.
review is likely to shine a spotlight on anomalies created when
government bodies function as businesses in the digital economy. It
will present ministers with three choices - outright privatisation, a
move to supplying data at marginal cost ("free data") or splitting the
Although several ministers are in favour of the free data model, plans for any such move will face a frosty reception.
an interesting twist, the government has revealed that, in the
financial year that ended on Tuesday, it will require Ordnance Survey
to increase its notional "profit" by 11%, to a 6% return on capital
employed. The figure was revealed in answer to a parliamentary question
by Adam Afriyie, the Conservative shadow innovation minister.
Digital data costs from most national mapping agencies are notoriously high. Although the Ordnance Survey leads the world in their digital products (I first encountered them over 20 years ago), they have also been very pricey. The Guardian has been leading its own campaign to bring the costs more inline with "free" models along the lines of those used by the US Geological Survey (ie. a marginal cost representing the cost of reproduction and media).
The full article can be found here.