Companies working on public contracts and spending public money could be forced to comply with the Freedom of Information Act, making their actions subject to direct public accountability.
The government said it wanted to ensure more public information is made available and preserved for future generations, and proposes to issue a new Code of Practice on managing digital and other records, and extend the Freedom of Information Act to companies spending public money.
Justice Minister Michael Wills said: “The introduction of the Freedom of Information Act has significantly increased transparency in public life and the right to access information has become a cornerstone of our democracy.
“The steps we are taking today - to keep and preserve public information for the future and extend the Freedom of Information Act - are significant if we are to truly promote the culture of openness in public life,” he said.
The government has: “considerable” support for extending the Act, and a consultation will now be undertaken with those proposed for inclusion within the scope of the Act: Academies, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the Financial Ombudsman Service and the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).
This is an initial step and further consultations with Network Rail and utility companies will examine how the Freedom of Information Act could apply to other bodies.
The government also wants public bodies to future-proof digital records to ensure that they can continue to be accessed and used in the future.