First they came for the Permanent Secretaries…

Some excitement this morning at the publication of names, positions and salary bands of the civil service’s top 172 earners. A few names familiar to anyone reading this blog – Matt Tee, John Suffolk, Vanessa Lawrence, Alex Allan (one for the old-skool there!) – but mostly, it’s departmental Permanent Secretaries, and very obviously senior staff. The MoD and Cabinet Office have the most people on the lists: the former mainly ‘top brass’, the latter mainly lawyers. In truth, I’m not sure there’s an awful lot to get excited about.
The real fun will come in September: it was stated in the Programme for Government, and has now been confirmed in a letter from the PM, that:

Names, grades, job titles and annual pay rates for most Senior Civil Servants and NDPB officials with salaries higher than the lowest permissible in Pay Band 1 of the Senior Civil Service pay scale to be published from September 2010.

And according to the Civil Service website, the bottom of the SCS band 1 payscale is £58,200. That’s going to mean the full salary details of many mid-level managers – quite a few of you reading this blog, I’d guess? – being published in full. Brace yourselves.
We’re getting a new committee – to include Messrs Shadbolt, Berners-Lee and Steinberg – tasked with ‘setting open data standards across the public sector and developing the legal Right to Data’; and a promise that full departmental organograms will be published in October.
But perhaps the most intriguing line is the one buried near the bottom of Cameron’s letter: ‘From July 2010, government departments and agencies should ensure that any information published includes the underlying data in an open standardised format.’ Open? Standardised? Would one expect Microsoft Office formats to meet those criteria? I’m not so sure.