Government lays adspend details bare in new transparency drive


Detailed information about public spending over the last two years was published on Friday as part of a new government drive for greater transparency. The Treasury said it had taken an "unprecedented step" by publishing data from the Combined Online Information System (COINS) for 2008-09 and 2009-10, describing it as "the most detailed UK public expenditure data ever released".

COINS is one of a stack of government databases which Cameron has pledged to make available to the public in an attempt to make the government more accountable. The Central Office of Information spent £540m on marketing in the year to the end of March 2009, which included £211m on traditional advertising and £40m on digital, according to the COI's annual report.


Last week, the COI informed its marketing agencies that Government advertising expenditure could fall by at least 50% during this financial year.

The Treasury admitted that the millions of lines of raw data were "complex" and required "technical expertise to process".

"We plan to release more data in the coming months that will be easier for the general public to understand," said Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

"For too long the previous government acted as if the public had no right to know where their hard earned taxes were spent.," Alexander added.

"Today we have lifted that veil of secrecy by releasing detailed spending figures dating back to 2008."

The names of senior civil servants in Whitehall with salaries of more than £150,000 were released to the public on Tuesday in the first step of the government initiative.

Francis Maude, the minister for the Cabinet Office who oversaw the publication, said: "Openness will not be comfortable for us in government; but it will enable the public to hold our feet to the fire."

There are indications that government advertising will be subject to severe cutbacks this year. In a leaked letter, Peter Buchanan, deputy chief executive of the COI, told agencies that advertising and marketing plans have been put in place to deliver savings of around £160m.

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