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Scotland Design Report 2018-2020

Scotland’s second action plan seeks to build on the country’s long tradition of civic participation following incremental improvements to freedom of information inspired by its first action plan. Notable commitments include the creation of a civic participation framework, financial and performance transparency, and accountability for public services. While the country’s new multi-stakeholder process led to a more ambitious action plan, implementation will require more specific and concrete actions.

Table 1. At a glance

Participating since:  2016

Action plan under review: 2

Report type: Design

Number of commitments: 5


Action plan development

Is there a Multistakeholder forum: Yes

Level of public influence:  Involve

Acted contrary to OGP process: No


Action plan design

Commitments relevant to OGP values     5 (100%)

Transformative commitments                     1 (20%)

Potentially starred:                                    1 (20%)

Action plan implementation

Starred commitments: N/A

Completed commitments: N/A

Commitments with Major DIOG*: N/A

Commitments with Outstanding DIOG*: N/A


*DIOG: Did it Open Government?

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a global partnership that brings together government reformers and civil society leaders to create action plans that make governments more inclusive, responsive, and accountable. The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) monitors all action plans to ensure governments follow through on commitments. Scotland joined OGP in 2016. Since then, Scotland has implemented one action plan. This report evaluates the design of Scotland’s second action plan.

General overview of action plan

Since completing its first action plan in 2017, the Scottish Government has improved its performance on freedom of information amid ongoing uncertainties surrounding Brexit. Scotland’s second action plan seeks to expand on the country’s strong tradition of civic participation by coordinating government practices to involve citizens in both service design and policy-making. The plan also responds to recommendations following its first action plan by committing to improve financial transparency and introducing a commitment on public accountability.

Scotland improved the development of its second action plan by allocating more time and resources to consultations, as well as by involving a broader range of participants. The newly formed multi-stakeholder forum enabled a wider array of Scottish Government, local government, and civil society actors to express input on open governance issues. The forum’s Steering Group – composed of government and civil society – could improve the process by holding more regular consultations and developing a targeted strategy to engage local networks and interest groups in the OGP agenda.

Scotland’s second action plan process introduced a Steering Group with a collaborative mandate, which ensured parity of representation, and included transparent selection of non-governmental members. These improvements led to commitments that are more ambitious and broader in scope, but lack specificity, which may be attributed to wider public participation in the plan’s co-creation.

Notable commitments in the second action plan include the development of a coordinated approach to civic participation and the improvement of citizen accessibility to government financial and performance data.

Table 2. Noteworthy commitments

Commitment description Moving forward Status at the end of implementation cycle.
1. Financial and Performance Transparency

Gather public input on Scotland’s financial transparency practices and apply open government policies to the design and implementation of Scottish financial institutions.

To strengthen this commitment, the government should clarify specific measurable actions that are integral to achieve its financial transparency objectives. The government could also consider conducting activities to build citizens’ capacity to use public financial information and gender impact assessments of budget proposals.


Note: this will be assessed at the end of action plan cycle.
2. Civic Participation Framework

Develop a “Participation Framework” to guide government practices for civic participation in open policy-making and service delivery.

The government could develop an online progress monitoring mechanism and results database for this commitment to ensure the public has access to delivery progress and can verify its achievements. The government could also embed lessons learned from the framework in more specific policy areas and practices. Note: this will be assessed at the end of action plan cycle.


The IRM recommendations aim to inform the development of the next action plan and guide implementation of the current action plan.

Table 3. Five KEY IRM Recommendations

1. Ensure ongoing monitoring throughout implementation of the current action plan.
2. Work towards deeper collaboration in the co-creation of future commitments through a longer consultation period, more engagement with other issue-based networks and more iterative dialogue during commitment development.
3. Ensure a more manageable scope for any future action plan by focusing on a more targeted set of commitments and activities in parallel to the government’s broader open government work.
4. Increase the specificity of commitments in any future action plan.
5. Continue to tie commitments more explicitly to concrete policy problems.



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