Introduction

The following text was contributed by the Government of the United Kingdom. 

Prime Minister David Cameron has championed open government in the UK with a pledge to make the government “the most open and transparent in the world”. The Minister for the Cabinet Office has described open data as “the new raw material of the 21st century” the value of which lies in “holding governments to account; in driving choice and improvements in public services; and in inspiring innovation and enterprise that spurs social and economic growth.”

The UK has also led an international agenda with transparency at its core, through our co-chairmanship of the OGP and the Prime Minister’s co-chairmanship of the UN High Level Panel of Eminent Persons. Transparency was one of one of our three priorities during the UK Presidency of the G8, and in June 2013 G8 governments agreed an Open Data Charter to promote transparency, innovation and accountability.

As one of the eight founding governments of the OGP, our first National Action Plan was published in September 2011 and included 41 commitments. The Independent Reporting Mechanism’s assessment, published in September 2013, noted that the UK government was successful in implementing many of its commitments, notably in aid transparency. However, we had not consulted extensively with civil society during the development of the plan, a point we acknowledged in our self-assessment in March 2013.

Our second National Action Plan was published in October 2013, having been developed in partnership with civil society organisations via the OGP UK Civil Society Network. This plan is more ambitious in scope than our first. Continuing to build on our open data commitments, it addresses cross-cutting open government issues and focuses on what the UK government is doing to ensure the public can:

  • See and understand the workings of the government through more transparency
  • Influence the operation of the government by participating in the policy process and the delivery of public services
  • Hold the government to account for its policy and delivery of public services.   

A major commitment in our national action plan is the creation of a publicly accessible central registry of information on beneficial ownership. This builds on our G8 commitment to create a central registry, which will contain information on who ultimately owns all UK businesses. We are the first country to make this information publicly available and at the same time take into account privacy issues.

Other commitments in the second National Action Plan include:

  • National Information Infrastructure: The UK will continue to develop and list an inventory of all the datasets it owns, which includes datasets that are published but also those that are currently not available to the public.  The datasets that are likely to have the broadest and most significant economic and social impact will form the ‘National Information Infrastructure’, and will be prioritised for release if not already published.
  • Health: NHS England will work with government and civil society to improve the quality and breadth of information about healthcare provision. 
  • Natural resource transparency: The UK will implement the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) which requires governments and businesses to publish information on money-flows from extractives industries. The UK will champion EITI internationally to help create a common global standard.
  • Open contracting: The UK will increase transparency and citizen participation in public contracts to tackle corruption and ensure money is well spent.
  • Construction sector transparency: The UK will establish four new Construction Sector Transparency programmes in DfID countries.
  • Aid transparency: The UK will release overseas development data in line with the International Aid Transparency Initiative. This will allow people to see detailed information about aid spending for different projects, including spending by sub-agencies and sub-contractors.

We are continuing to work closely with civil society on the implementation of these commitments and will provide updates on these pages.  

Our mid-term self-assessment report (see here), published on 25 March 2015, provides an evaluation of our performance 15 months into implementation of our second NAP.
 

OGP in the UK

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