28 August 2008

Ordnance Survey: Right Out of Order

I always thought that the Ordnance Survey had a rather, er, Olympian view of things that was more suited to the top-down twentieth century than the bottom-up one we inhabit. Some fine FOI work by the Guardian has confirmed that they really are as out of order as I surmised:

An extraordinary picture of a state body carrying out political lobbying on the issue of free data has emerged from documents obtained by the Guardian.

The correspondence reveals that Ordnance Survey (OS) is targeting MPs from Westminster and devolved assemblies, civil servants and leading figures in the free data debate. The agency openly attends party conferences and other political events to promote the value of geographical data. However, earlier this year a Parliamentary question revealed that it had paid a company called Mandate £42,076.20 plus VAT since August 2007.

So here we have a state body using *our* money to pay for lobbyists to advise on how to stop oiks like *us* from gaining free access to the information *we* largely foot the bill for.

The one consolation is that if they are prepared to stoop to stupid tactics like this, they are clearly running very scared: anyone remember Eric "pitbull" Dezenhall, another consultant brought in a desperate attempt to stave off open access...?


zoobab said...

I met someone from the OS lobbying Members of the European Parliament for non-public geodata for the INSPIRE directive.

Ordonance Survey was lobbying together with another lobbying organisation names eurogeographics, which regroups national mapping agencies.

The "executive" lobbying the "legislator", what a seperation of powers

Glyn Moody said...

Thanks for that info - as you say, a pretty sad state of affairs...