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United Kingdom Transitional Results Report 2019-2021

The Open Government Partnership 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. Action plan commitments may build on existing efforts, identify new steps to complete ongoing reforms, or initiate an entirely new area. OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) monitors all action plans to ensure governments follow through on commitments. Civil society and government leaders use the evaluations to reflect on their progress and determine if efforts have impacted people’s lives.

The IRM has partnered with Bart Scheffers to carry out this evaluation. The IRM aims to inform ongoing dialogue around the development and implementation of future commitments. For a full description of the IRM’s methodology, please visit

This report covers the implementation of the United Kingdom’s fourth action plan for 2019-2021. In 2021, the IRM will implement a new approach to its research process and the scope of its reporting on action plans, approved by the IRM Refresh.[1] The IRM adjusted its Implementation Reports for 2018-2020 action plans to fit the transition process to the new IRM products and enable the IRM to adjust its workflow in light of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on OGP country processes.

Action Plan Implementation

The IRM Transitional Results Report assesses the status of the action plan’s commitments and the results from their implementation at the end of the action plan cycle. This report does not re-visit the assessments for “Verifiability,” “Relevance” or “Potential Impact.” The IRM assesses those three indicators in IRM Design Reports. For more details on each indicator, please see Annex I in this report.

General Highlights and Results

The United Kingdom (UK)’s fourth action plan focused on various areas of open government, ranging from improving access to information, increasing civic participation in policy-making, to strengthening the quality and disclosure of open contracting data. In total, out of eight commitments, one was fully completed, five were substantially completed, one was completed to a limited extent and for one, the level of completion could not be verified.

Two commitments have led to major improvements in open government. Commitment 1 (grants data) has resulted in large amounts of new information on government grants being disclosed to the public. As a result of this work, several new and easy-to-use platforms have been developed that allow the public to track government grants data amounting to over 21 billion GBP per fiscal year. The implementation of Commitment 1 far exceeded the expectations from the IRM 2019-2021 Design Report.[2] Commitment 4 (open contracting data) saw successful collaboration with civil society during its implementation and has led to more incremental, yet valuable improvements, including better adherence of Contracts Finder to the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS). The UK has carried forward open contracting to its fifth action plan (2021-2023).[3] Under Commitment 5, the UK continued to implement the EITI Standard and achieved a high overall score in its 2019 EITI compliance. Under Commitment 6 the UK successfully implemented three deliberative democracy initiatives in the form of citizens’ assemblies.

 The UK witnessed a tumultuous political situation during the implementation period, a result of the EU exit process and several governmental reorganizations. These developments impacted the implementation of the commitments in various ways. The EU exit, for example, also meant the UK began developing new methods to advertise tenders that were previously advertised via the EU’s Tender Electronic Daily. This impacted the work on open contracting as resources were prioritized to ensure this alternative (called Find a Tender) was ready before the UK exited from the EU. Also, as a result of contingency planning efforts in case the UK faced a so-called no-deal scenario, relevant staff from the Cabinet Office were involved with preparing possible government responses and measures.[4] That meant they sometimes had considerably less time to devote to the OGP agenda.

In addition, some UK government departments that were involved in the action plan were reorganized or rebranded during the implementation period. The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG), for example, was reorganized and renamed the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.[5] In September 2020, the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) was merged with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to become the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. These changes were accompanied by challenges in terms of efficiency and ownership, for example around whether certain work would be continued, or if these changes would also impact the strategic direction of certain commitments.

COVID-19 pandemic impact on implementation

According to the Cabinet Office’s draft self-assessment, progress on a few commitments was delayed due to the redeployment of government resources to respond to the pandemic. For example, the review of HMG’s Open Data publication (under Commitment 2) and the high-level working groups for sharing innovations in open government (under Commitment 7) were not held due to the pandemic. However, lead institutions also successfully re-adjusted commitments during the pandemic. For example, under Commitment 3, Policy Lab developed interactive online training sessions to contextualize open policy making for teams across the UK Government. Commitment 1 helped produce valuable analysis and data on the UK’s COVID-19 relief and recovery grants. In addition, the recommendations from the local citizen assemblies under Commitment 6 proved relevant during the pandemic, particularly around public transportation, cycling and walking.

Though not connected directly to the fourth action plan, the pandemic impacted other areas of open government. The Information Commissioner’s Office published guidance on delays, record-keeping, data breaches and post-crisis restoration.[6] UK public authorities could delay their freedom of information (FOI) requests without penalty during the pandemic. Furthermore, although not the focus of Commitment 4, there were serious concerns about the lack of transparency of emergency procurements in response to the pandemic. The UK’s National Audit Office found “…examples where there is insufficient documentation on key decisions, or how risks such as perceived or actual conflicts of interest have been identified or managed” and that “a number of contracts were awarded retrospectively or have not been published in a timely manner”.[7]

[1] For more information, see:

[2] Open Government Partnership, UK Design Report 2019-2021,

[3] UK Open Government National Action Plan 2021-2023,

[4] A no-deal scenario meant that “The UK leaves the EU and becomes a third country at 11pm GMT on 31 October 2019 without a Withdrawal Agreement and framework for a future relationship in place between the UK and the EU”. See also

[5] National Audit Office, Departmental Overview 2020-2021,

[6] UK Information Commissioner’s Office, ICO Regulatory approach during coronavirus,

[7] National Audit Office, 2021, “Investigation into government procurement during the COVID-19 pandemic”,


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