Response sent: July 2010 (information provided pre-launch) and September 2010 (information provided post-launch)

Request:

I am writing with regard to the development, project and launch later this year of the legislation.gov.uk website. Please could you provide via FOI the following:

1. any internal progress reports or similar management briefings that have been produced so far

2. any time-based statistics (eg hits, distinct users etc) for the legislation.gov.uk API currently in beta

3. copies of the Terms of Reference and/or Project Initiation Documents or similar for the project.

Outcome:

Successful

Response:

1. Legislation.gov.uk - Update: API Project - 14/11/2009 (DOC, 0.02Mb)

Legislation.gov.uk - Readiness appraisal (DOC, 0.10Mb)

Legislation.gov.uk - Highlight Report (DOC, 0.05Mb)

2. The API for legislation is operating in a 'beta' stage - it will become fully operational with the launch of legislation.gov.uk. Prior to formal launch of legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives has not reported on the usage of the API, so figures are not available. Given the limited specialist interest, the volumes of data transferred have been small compared to the operational websites (www.opsi.gov.uk and www.statutelaw.gov.uk). The primary objective of releasing a beta version of the API was to understand how best to supply legislation as re-usable data.

3. The legislation.gov.uk project has been managed using an Agile method, based on O'Reilly's book 'The Art of Agile Development' rather than a more traditional PRINCE 2 type approach.

Work has been progressed iteratively, each iteration running for two weeks. There is a whole team iteration meeting, which reviews work from the last iteration (with a demonstration of what has been achieved).  A "retrospective" is also covered where the team reflects on the last iteration, identifying areas for improvement, and plan work for the next iteration.

Work is scoped and planned in terms of stories, which are assigned story points - an estimate of the length of time that story will take to deliver. Stories are then broken down into specific tasks. An online tool called Mingle has been used to keep track of the stories, tasks and other project information, such as technical details or notes from the daily team stand-up call.

The Agile approach has enabled staff in The National Archives to work very closely with developers. This is important as the project requires a mixture of expertise, from high end technical knowledge, for example about XQuery and XSLT through to detailed knowledge of legislation and of the legislation data The National Archives holds.  Agile projects do not generate the same kind of documentation as PRINCE2 projects do.

For the API project there is a vision statement created at the beginning of development of the API:

Legislation.gov.uk - Vision Statement (DOC, 0.02Mb)

A very small amount of the information which you are looking for is covered by an exemption. Therefore one of the documents provided (Highlight Report) has been redacted under Section 40 (2). 

Section 40(2) operates to exempt individuals' personal data, where for example disclosure would contravene any of the data protection principles in schedule 1 of the Data Protection Act 1998, or if the person that the information relates to would not have a right to know about it or a right of access to it under that Act (because of its exemption provisions). The 1998 Act prevents personal information being released if, for example, it would be unfair or at odds with the reason why it was collected, or where the individual whom the information was about had properly served notice that releasing it would cause major and unnecessary damage or distress. So for example disclosure of information must be fair and lawful and must not be processed incompatibly with the purposes for which it was obtained.

This exemption has been applied because information within this document is considered to be the personal data of living identifiable individuals. This includes staff names of junior officials. These individuals have a right to privacy and would not expect their names to be released.  Thus release of names of junior officials who have not given express permission would be deemed to be unfair. Additionally, further processing to attribute names to opinions or actions would be seen to breach the first data protection principle in that it would be neither fair nor meet a Schedule 2 condition.  As such the names of junior officials are not being provided to you.

You can find out more about the reasons for non-disclosure of such information by visiting the Information Commissioner's Office website.

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