World news – The PACA parliamentary committee criticizes Gove for Covid-19 data errors

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The Parliamentary Committee on Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs (PACA) has released a report that includes the government’s records of the exchange of data, particularly the basis of decisions related to the lockdown, with the public during the Covid- 19 pandemic crisis extremely critical.

It is particularly critical of Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who did not appear before the committee to adequately facilitate the control of his decisions. “The ministers sent in his place were poorly informed and could not answer the committee’s questions. The written correspondence has also repeatedly failed to fully answer the questions put to it, « said the report of the PACA committee.

In a statement attached to the report, William Wragg, chairman of the committee, said: » This report is not intended to protect the rights and Investigate the injustice of government decisions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The point is to ensure that we as parliamentarians can hold the government accountable by examining the data.

“There is also a need to learn how the government shares information with local partners. Delays in sharing critical data and reluctance to share detailed information were almost certain to hamper the on-site response. This over-centralization cannot be repeated. “

The report reflects a similarly critical set of findings from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee of January 2021. He noted that poor data flow and a failure to capitalize on the UK’s strengths in data science had hurt the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Public Administration and Constitutional Committee report Questions noted a loophole at the top of government in terms of accountability for the management of Covid-19 data.

« There was a distinct lack of clarity as to which minister and department should be held accountable, to make sure decisions are backed up by data, « it said. « Gathering accurate, up-to-date data is critical to the effectiveness of the Covid-19 strategy and requires coordination between multiple departments and agencies. »

The committee recommends that the cabinet office « must clearly define who is responsible for making decisions, before the coronavirus law is considered for renewal after March 25, 2021 « and that this must include clear areas of responsibility at departmental and ministerial level indicating which minister is accountable to Parliament for ensuring that important decisions are based on data, and for the data on which decisions are based. “

One particular minister, Michael Gove, has been selected by the Vial of Anger Committee who“ expects Mr Gove to respond to this report and understand his own responsibilities and the way in which he will be held accountable should, clearly outlines Parliament « .

The committee admits that throughout the investigation it has had difficulty determining who is considered by the government to be responsible for the data underlying decisions on Covid 19. And it deplores what it sees as Gove’s shortcomings in relation to his central role as chairman of the Cabinet Committee Covid Operations, known as Covid-O.

« While only the Prime Minister stands before the country and parliament and makes important decisions (like the Blocking), it is the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who we believe is responsible for ensuring that these decisions are made through data inf be informed about Covid-O and as part of the coordinated response, « the report says.

 » When this committee asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to demonstrate this accountability, he failed to do so several times. The Chairman has put questions in writing to Mr. Gove which we understand are within his remit only to have those questions referred to the Department of Health.

On November 18 [2020] a letter from Mr. Gove stated: ‘I will answer any of your questions that are within the purview of the Cabinet. The Ministry of Health and Welfare will respond to your remaining points separately. “None of the questions we asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster about the tiering system, indicators, escalation and de-escalation plans and whether local executives could move faster based on their own data were fully answered.

On December 10th [2020], Mr. Gove wrote to us: « The ministers are ultimately responsible for data transparency and are responsible for government policies. » While we agree with this general statement, we do not answer the question of which minister is responsible for the transparency of the data on which the decisions of Covid-19 are based? We believe this is Mr. Gove. “

Elsewhere in the report there were instructions on how to improve the presentation and contextualization of data. « Government-used graphics, such as slide packs and briefings, should follow the Government Statistical Service’s best practice guidelines for data visualization, » the report said.

The committee noted that the government Presented graphics that she judged to be inferior. “Ministerial statements published on government websites must contain hyperlinks or footnotes referring to the detailed data on which the figures or statistics are based. This should apply to all areas where data is used, not just related to this pandemic. « 

The committee reiterated that » the statistics cited by ministers have not always been supported by published data … [so that] members of the public, journalists and parliamentarians have no way of verifying the information exchanged. This means that no constructive debate can take place. « 

As the country goes through the roadmap announced by the Prime Minister on February 22, 2021, the committee urges the government to » share all available data as detailed as possible, ideally at the patient level, with the local areas « and this data Recommend This will be key to making a decision on the roadmap and should be shared immediately and before the possible renewal of the Coronavirus Act. « And » The government should publish a comprehensive list of all available data at what level. « 

The report specifically highlights the state of the hospitality industry, claiming that » the hospitality and entertainment sectors do not have enough data to support decisions related to their industry « and that » those dated The committee’s evidence received was inconclusive as to whether restrictions existed in the hospitality and entertainment sectors made sense « .

She urges the government to » urgently release the data underlying the restrictions imposed on businesses on each.  » Step of the roadmap remain in place ”.

This year, a survey was carried out in which almost 500 professionals from the European IT sector were asked which topics they considered essential for 2021. In this infographic you can see whether remote working will stay here, whether the trends in information management will shift and which infrastructure tools will be provided by most in 2021. Download this PDF infographic to find out what the results showed.

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