Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron has thrown open government data to the public as part of a radical plan to usher in more transparency in public affairs.

In a letter sent to all government departments, Mr. Cameron set out ambitious plans to open up data and set challenging deadlines to public bodies for the publication of information on topics including crime, hospital infections and government spending.

Whitehall departments will begin to release new data to the public this week, starting with senior civil service salaries.

“Greater transparency across Government is at the heart of our shared commitment to enable the public to hold politicians and public bodies to account; to reduce the deficit and deliver better value for money in public spending; and to realise significant economic benefits by enabling businesses and non-profit organisations to build innovative applications and websites using public data,” Cameron said in his letter.

Key commitments set out in the Prime Minister’s letter include the publication of all new central government ICT contracts from July 2010 and the publication of details of all Department for International development projects over £500 from January 2011.

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