Lobby FODder

My attention was drawn to an article on eGov Monitor extolling the achievements of the Locus Association in “working with the Government and EU institutions to effectively commercialise public sector information in EU”

So who are the Locus Association? According to the article “The Locus Association is a group of private sector companies operating in the Public Sector Information (PSI) marketplace, who come from a range of sectors within the PSI marketplace..” actually it is a very focussed organisation with 15 of the 20 members listed on their website being involved in the Geographic Information Industry. However it should not be confused with principal industry association, the Association for Geographic Information which lists several hundred corporate members on its directory.

If you are interested in joining Locus you are directed to The Locus Association Secretary at Quintus PA whose web site says that they are “an independent political relations consultancy” who advise that “Informed planning, astute political awareness, tenacity in case making and first class communications skills are essential attributes for a public affairs programme.” This lobbying firm is the only contact shown on the Locus Association web site.

Well I suppose “working with Government” is a creative euphemism for lobbying.

If you look at the Press archive on the Locus site you can get a sense of their focus – 28 articles over the last 18 months, but surprisingly (or not depending on your point of view) every one of them was published by The Guardian which also runs the Free Our Data campaign. Almost every article seems to be about GI rather than “from a range of sectors within the PSI marketplace” and a large proportion refer to the long running addressing dispute between Ordnance Survey and Intelligent Addressing (whose Managing Director is the current Chair of Locus). Is there a pattern evolving? Nothing untoward but I think a little more openness would be in order.

As for the coincidence that the Guardian series of articles and their FOD campaign started at almost the same time as the launch of the Locus Association, could it be the “tenacity in case making and first class communications skills” of Locus’ lobbyists? Probably not – the guys at The Guardian and their FOD campaign couldn’t possibly be Lobby FODder.