In its response, IA sets out its position for the changes required in order for OS to be left with a sustainable business for the future. The changes suggested are holistic, durable and the clearest solution that OS can implement relatively rapidly, as well as creating the greatest public and private benefit requiring the lightest touch regulation.
IA also warns that the Consultation does not tackle some of the key issues which require addressing if OS is to be successfully repositioned for the benefit of both the public and private sectors. The Consultation leaves many awkward and important gaps which must be filled before any coherent solution can be found. It makes some assumptions which appear open to challenge and others which have already been contradicted by previous government reports. The method of accounting used by OS does not lend itself to easy analysis and business restructuring.
Any solution will need:
- stronger Regulation;
- a well-defined Public Task;
- new, defensible and lawful cost accounting and pricing regimes; which
- can sustain the business even if licensing restrictions are relaxed.
The Consultation appears sympathetic to OS's current Ramsey Pricing approach and light-touch Regulation which it implies has been successful despite evidence to the contrary. We believe both are untenable if fair competition - and thus innovation, enterprise and choice - is to be encouraged.
The Consultation paper "Policy options for geographic information from Ordnance Survey" (December 2009) can be seen on the CLG website.