John Mayor

Office of Public Sector Information

The Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) is the body responsible for the operation of Her Majesty's Stationery Office (usually abbreviated as HMSO) and of other public information services of the United Kingdom. OPSI is part of the The National Archives of the United Kingdom and it is responsible for Crown copyright.

OPSI announced on June 21, 2006 that it was merging with The National Archives to create a joined-up approach to information management within government. This merger took place in October 2006. OPSI continues to discharge its roles and responsibilities from within the structure of The National Archives.

Controller of HMSO and Director of OPSI

The Controller of HMSO is also the Director of OPSI. HMSO continues to operate from within the expanded remit of OPSI. The Controller of HMSO also holds the offices of Queen's Printer of Acts of Parliament, Queen's Printer for Scotland and Government Printer for Northern Ireland.

By virtue of holding these offices OPSI publishes, through HMSO, the London Gazette, Edinburgh Gazette, Belfast Gazette and all legislation in the United Kingdom, including Acts of Parliament, Acts of the Scottish Parliament and Statutory Instruments.

The Controller of HMSO is appointed by Letters Patent to the office of Queen's Printer of Acts of Parliament. This office is separate from the functions of OPSI. Historically the role of Queen's [or King's] Printer extended to other official publishing responsibilities, e.g. the rights to print, publish and import the King James Bible and Book of Common Prayer within England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The current holder of this office is Cambridge University Press.

History

HMSO was established as a new department of HM Treasury on 5 April 1786, when John Mayor was appointed as its first "Superintendent". From 1822, all government departments were required to buy stationery through the open competitions and tenders operated by HMSO. HMSO also took over as official publisher from Hansard in 1882. In 1889, HMSO was granted Letters Patent under which it was appointed as Queen's Printer of Acts of Parliament ("printer to Her Majesty of all Acts of Parliament"). These letters patent also appointed the Controller of HMSO as administrator of the rights of Crown copyright. HMSO also took over publication of the London Gazette in the same year.

Most of its publishing functions were privatised in 1996 as a separate company known as The Stationery Office (TSO), but HMSO continued as a separate part of the Cabinet Office. Prior to 1996, it was the publisher of virtually all government material, such as Command papers, legislation and official histories. After 1996 the Controller of HMSO remained Queen's Printer of Acts of Parliament and retained the role of administering Crown copyright.

The privatisation was not the final stage in HMSO's changing role. As part of the implementation of the European Union directive on the re-use of public sector information, it was decided that there was a need for a dedicated body to be the principal focal point for advising on and regulating the operation of public sector information re-use. That new body, created in 2005 is the OPSI.

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