The barriers to the opening of government data in the UK – a view from the bottom

Victoria Wang, David Shepherd, Mark Button

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This paper explores some of the key barriers to Open Government Data (OGD) that responsible civil servants in the UK face as they try to comply with the UK-led OGD initiative. Empirically, we provide a quantitative analysis of the resources published on the government’s central OGD portal,, and a unique insight into the publishing of OGD in the UK based on 22 interviews with responsible individuals at the operational level of publishing OGD. Our findings reveal that while the barriers to open government information have been substantially reduced, the barriers to open government data persist. Even the most enthusiastic responsible individuals face considerable obstacles in publishing OGD. Further, a key barrier to OGD in the UK is its impression management strategy based on its informational rather than data orientation. Due to the UK’s pioneering position in the OGD initiative, these findings are relevant to understanding and improving OGD programmes at local, national and international levels. The findings may, subsequently, lead to evidence-based strategies and policies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-74
Number of pages16
JournalInformation Polity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2019


  • Open Government Data (OGD)
  • UK government
  • benefit paradox
  • privacy
  • impression management
  • RCUK
  • EP/N028139/1
  • EP/N027825/1


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