An update on the development of the Postcode Address File (PAF®) Public Sector Licence

03/08/2012

We thought it would be helpful to provide an update on discussions between BIS and Royal Mail on the development of a public sector licence for PAF.

We know that PSMA members, other users of PAF data, and PAF Solutions Providers are keen to see a public sector licence put in place. A public sector licence for PAF is expected to generate better, more efficient and more joined up services for the public and supports the principle of improving data sharing across government. A public sector licence would provide a pay once/use many times opportunity. Royal Mail and BIS are, therefore, committed to working together to resolve the many issues and challenges.

During the first half of this year, considerable progress has been made on establishing an initial business case in support of a public sector licence to ensure that any such licence would be good value for all parties. This is a complex process as we need to understand the level of PAF usage across the public sector, made more challenging due to the confidentiality agreements between Royal Mail and the Solutions Providers; and Solutions Providers and End Users. In order to complete a financial analysis, information has needed to be gathered on the market for PAF use, current usage, and the potential for future exploitation across the public sector. This information comes from many sources, in many different forms, and with different underlying assumptions.

The business case is nearing completion. We are investigating whether confidentiality waivers can be put in place to assist with the provision of data on public sector PAF royalty payments.

Work is also underway on understanding the framework for the terms and conditions likely to be associated with a public sector licence. It is important that Royal Mail and BIS understand the requirements that would be imposed, for example on liability and enforcement.

We are also seeking to establish funding options for a public sector licence, another key area to for us both to understand and resolve.

Another important consideration is that Royal Mail and BIS will need to take into account the Ofcom Review of PAF. PAF is regulated by Ofcom to ensure that it is maintained and made available to all users on reasonable terms. The review will consider the regulatory framework and the access to PAF on reasonable terms, the costs of maintaining the PAF, pricing structures and the associated licensing. Ofcom expect to make proposals later this year and to reach their conclusions in the first half of 2013. The PAF public sector licence business case will, of course, need to be reviewed in the light of the Ofcom proposals and conclusions.

We will continue with our work whilst Ofcom completes its review. We will, however, keep in close contact with Ofcom as work progresses and build flexibility into our agreement to enable the Ofcom findings to be reflected in the public sector licence.

So, whilst much good work has been completed, there is still more to do and Royal Mail and BIS will continue working together collaboratively on this important issue, ensuring that proper due diligence is completed for any licence agreement.

We will keep you informed on further developments.

BIS Data Strategy and Services Team Royal Mail Address Management Unit

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