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Ordnance Survey to become a 'GovCo'



Announcement stresses open data role under new business model

After more than a decade of indecision by successive governments, a decision has been made to change the business model of Ordnance Survey, the state's largest data business. However the announcement levels the mapping agency in state hands - for now.

In a statement today, Matthew Hancock, junior business minister, announced the government's intention to change Ordnance Survey from a trading fund to a 'government company' by 31 March. He said the mapping agency would remain under 100% public ownership with data remaining Crown property.

It will also continue to publish a statement on its public task and "make as much data as possible openly available to a wide audience of users".

The agency said in a statement that: "Ordnance Survey's customers, partners and stakeholders will not be affected by the transfer to a GovCo. It is anticipated that they will ultimately benefit from a more efficient and focussed business aligned to their needs. Existing arrangements such as the Public Sector Mapping Agreement, One Scotland Mapping Agreement and OS OpenData will continue on the same terms until their scheduled end dates."

An announcement about Ordnance Survey's privatisation had been expected in autumn last year.

Speculation about privatisation also surfaced in 2008, when the government revealed it was "considering the agency's underlying business model" and in 1999 when it became a government trading fund.

Apart from public affection for its maps, Ordnance Survey is politically sensitive because its Southampton headquarters is a major employer in at least one highly marginal constituency.

Ordnance Survey's statement.

Pictured: smart phone mapping | HAAP Media Ltd.

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