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Taking on feedback to improve data standards

The Government Digital Service (GDS) and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) are working closely with government departments to improve how we manage and maintain data.

The Government Transformation Strategy published in 2017 had a whole section on making better use of data. A key component of this is interoperability and the application of data standards helping to reduce data errors, making data sets more accessible, understandable and interconnected.

The data standards story so far

GDS has published a draft Data Standard proposal with input and support from ONS, which drew on its advanced metadata initiative and inputs from several cross-government workshops.

We have also published demo code that shows how we can help automate data transfer and conversion. This is being incremented and improved on an ongoing basis.

The Data Standard we’re working on will not be replacing standards that are being adopted by the UK government or internationally. The intention is to speed up the exchange of data around government and improve interoperability. Our view is that this will be a stepping stone towards recommendations around file types and larger frameworks such as DCAT version 2

In a large dispersed organisation, such as the UK government, we need to ensure any Data Standard can suit the breadth of use cases including legacy and new systems and the range of centralised or more informal processes. ONS are one of the key government departments with a vision of how a Data Standard can work in this context and together we are actively working on its development.

Next steps

As we continue to refine our proposal for a cross-Government data standard, we will:

- agree a common set of tags to use across government
- set up community events and workshops to discuss options and ideas
- continue to blog about our progress

We’d like to hear from you

We are currently reaching out across government, through workshops and existing groups such as the ONS Architecture group and the Data Exchange Community of Practice, to find ways of improving our proposal.

We’ll also be holding a series of workshops, first focussed on a data description language that can be used with a tabular data structure. If you would like to get involved then please email us at

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  1. Comment by Simon Green posted on

    Shouldn't that be DCAT Version 2, not DECAT 2?

    • Replies to Simon Green>

      Comment by mattdavies posted on

      Excellent spot! Those DCAT and DECAT are always confusing - thanks for the comment!


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