Increasing Participation (SCO0005)
Action Plan: Scotland, United Kingdom Action Plan
Action Plan Cycle: 2017
Lead Institution: Open Government Ingage, Local Government and Communities
Support Institution(s): Cat Macaulay, Head of User Research and Engagement, Digital Directorate, Catriona.Macaulay@gov.scot with a number of delivery teams across SG Alasdair Mckinlay, Head of Community Empowerment, Alasdair.Mckinlay@gov.scot Broad range of Public Service Bodies, third sector, private sector and civil society orgs involved in the design and delivery of public services along with the OGP Civil Society Network
Policy AreasCapacity Building, E-Government, Legislation & Regulation, Local Commitments, Marginalized Communities, Public Participation, Regulatory Governance
Issue to be addressed: Significant progress has been made towards developing a distinctive Scottish approach to involving stakeholders, empowering communities and citizens; including specific service users, to participate in the design of public services. But there is more to be done to deliver effective engagement that is consistent and inclusive and to deliver more local control. Primary objecive: Scottish Ministers and Scottish civil society want to see a step change in society and in how the Scottish Government does its work and to energise local democracy, to put people at the centre of the way public services work so that the people of Scotland are able to participate on a fair and equal basis in the design of Scotland’s public services and policies. This commitment identifies 3 specific strands of work for Government, working with civil society, to improve participation. Short description: We will improve citizen participation by: bringing local government functions closer to communities through the development of new legislation, ensuring the people who use public services are involved in designing them, and building an Open Government movement in Scotland. OGP challenge: This commitment will be guided by the Scottish Government principles for democratic renewal and public service reform as detailed above. We will engage widely on, and introduce legislation to bring local government functions, finance and democratic oversight closer to communities. Commit to working with all those involved in designing digital public services to ensure that the methods and tools we use for engaging citizens and service users in service design promote Scottish Government and OGP values relating to ensuring diversity and inclusion in government through developing/adapting service design tools and methods, and publishing guidance and benchmarks. Digital public services provide a key point of contact between citizens and the State as well as the means by which citizens can access open data and through which government can promote transparency and access. The ability to access public services digitally presents an enormous service design challenge to government, the public sector, and other actors involved in the delivery of public services. To build an Open Government movement in Scotland we will work closely with civil society to develop a clear programme over 2017 which will seek the public’s views of what an Open Government should be.
IRM End of Term Status Summary
Commitment 5. Increasing participation
We will improve citizen participation by: (i) bringing local government functions closer to communities through the development of new legislation; (ii) ensuring the people who use public services are involved in designing them; (iii) building an Open Government movement in Scotland.
1. Development of local democracy legislation: (i) wide public engagement on developing and finalising policy proposals, (ii) publication of analysis of stakeholder views, (iii) introduction of Bill to parliament.
2. Improved tools and techniques for citizen participation: (i) a prototype model of a Scottish Approach to Service Design will be co-produced and used by 20 organisations involved in the design of public services; (ii) people whose first or preferred language is British Sign Language (BSL) will be able to participate on a fair and equal basis in the design of Scotland's digital public services and policies; (iii) guidance on inclusive methods and tools for service design will be published in an accessible website as they emerge through the development of the Scottish Approach to Service Design and these joint actions.
3. Open Government Movement: Jointly develop a programme of engagement with civil society including a minimum of 6 events over the course of the Pioneer year.
Overall Objective & Relevance
Involvement in democracy was one of the most talked about issues during discussions which emerged from the Fairer Scotland conversation following the independence referendum (see commitment 3). Many members of the public advocated further opportunities for local people to play a part in decisions that affect them and their community Scottish Government (2016) Creating a Fairer Scotland: What Matters tp you- A Summary of the Discussion so far (last accessed 14 July 2017) http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0049/00496638.pdf . This view is echoed by the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2015, which, as noted under the previous commitment, found that at least 8 in 10 citizens felt that people either 'definitely should' or 'probably should' be involved in making decisions about how local services are run and money is spent Scottish government (2015) Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2015: Attitudes to Social Networks, Civic Participation and Co-production (last accessed 14 July 2017) http://natcen.ac.uk/media/1240692/ssa-2015-publication-for-web.pdf .
With regards to citizen involvement in the design of public services specifically, the Commission on the Future Delivery of Public Services noted, in 2011, serious shortcomings in the capacity of public services to deliver better outcomes due to fragmentation, complexity and opacity. In particular, it noted that the public service system was 'top down' and unresponsive to the needs of individuals and communities Commission on the Future Delivery of Public Services (2011) Report on the Future Delivery of Public Services chaired by Dr Campbell Christie (last accessed 14 July 2017) http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2011/06/27154527/0 .
The Scottish Government's Digital Strategy, meanwhile, notes a change in people's expectations of public services as access to, and use of, the internet and mobile technology rises, with citizens increasingly preferring to access information and services online. Technology, according to the strategy, allows greater scope for interaction and can contribute to improving outcomes and reducing costs. Scottish Government (2011) Scotland's Digital Future A Strategy for Scotland (last accessed 14 July 2017) http://www.gov.scot/Resource/Doc/343733/0114331.pdf
In order to address these issues, this commitment identifies three strands of work for Government, working with civil society, to improve participation, namely by: (i) engaging citizens on, and introducing, legislation to bring local government closer to communities: (ii) working with those involved in designing digital public services to ensure that the tools for engaging citizens promote diversity and inclusion in government; and (iii) building an Open Government movement in Scotland with civil society to seek the public's views of what an Open Government should look like.
This commitment is primarily relevant to the OGP values of civic participation (all milestones) and Technology & Innovation for Transparency & Accountability (milestone 2), given the clear focus on formal public involvement in the design of legislation and public services and, in the case of milestone 2, in the promotion of modern technologies for information sharing and participation. Milestone 3, meanwhile, is relevant to broader public participation insofar as it aims to support civil society and interested citizens to better define what open government means to them.
Specificity and Potential Impact
The level of specificity for this commitment is low. It identifies both government and civil society leads responsible for implementation. However, as with the previous commitment, it includes milestones whose completion dates fall beyond the timeframe of the action plan implementation period as well as two pre-existing initiatives.
Some of the commitment language describes clear, verifiable activities with measurable outputs. This applies in particular to milestone 1, which defines the steps to be taken in consulting on and submitting a bill to parliament. However, for other milestones the language is vague and outputs ill-defined, making it difficult to objectively verify whether the target has been met. For example, under milestone 2, it is not clear what 'a prototype model of a Scottish Approach to Service Design' entails, or how its implementation might be measured. Likewise, although milestone 2 commits to enabling people whose use British Sign Language (BSL) to participate in the design of digital public services, the milestone gives no details on what actions will be taken to achieve this goal.
The potential impact of this commitment is moderate. As discussed above, the relevance of the commitment to OGP values and to a number of the challenges and demands identified by citizens is clear. There is a strong desire among the Scottish people to be more actively involved in decision-making and service delivery design. The activities presented in milestones 2 and 3 represent an important step in this direction. For example, under milestone 2, the development of guidance on inclusive methods and tools for service design has the potential to enable a more systematic and consistent approach to citizen engagement in this area, while under milestone 3, the development of an open government movement comprising both civil society and government representatives on an equal footing, is an ambitious approach which has the potential to introduce a more partnership-based model for the way in which the government and civil society interact. The approach is not without its challenges, however, as demonstrated by the limited degree of genuine partnership witnessed during the Action Plan development process (see Process of development of the action plan, above). Early discussions among members of the Scotland Open Government Network also illustrate the inherent tensions in pursuing such an approach. At the heart of these discussions has been the question of how the network can maintain open, frank and critical dialogue on sensitive topics given the presence of Scottish Government representatives in the network. Thus, the potential impact of this partnership-based model will depend on the extent to which the open government movement is able to sustain a supportive yet arms-length approach to engaging with the Scottish Government.
As Doreen Grove, the OGP point of contact in the Scottish Government, noted, this commitment involves not only the use of participation techniques (such as citizen juries), but also building capacity among citizens to participate and in government to support participation Interview with Doreen Grove, Scottish Government, 21 June, via Skype . While the commitment language does not clearly convey this approach, the combination of tools and capacity building, if adopted, is more likely to achieve more meaningful and sustained participation.
Nevertheless, the potential of this commitment to be transformative is affected by the fact that it encompasses a rather broad mix of unrelated activities rather than a joined-up approach to increasing participation. This runs the risk of Scottish Government implementing a range of discreet activities which do not add up to a coherent whole. Furthermore, the low specificity of the commitment means that, ultimately, it will be difficult to define and measure impact. Finally, the rationale for milestone 1 (development of local democracy legislation) as a means to increase civic participation is unclear, given the introduction of the Empowerment Act in 2015, which aims to do just that. While Doreen Grove, the OGP point of contact for the Scottish Government, noted that the milestone refers to involving citizens in the development of new legislation more generally, as opposed to developing new legislation to enable participation per se, this is not reflected in the wording of the milestone, which makes reference to the introduction of a specific local democracy bill to parliament.
There has been limited progress on this commitment and none of the milestones have been completed. This is partly due to the fact that the completion dates for many of the activities presented in the plan fall beyond the action plan period. But it is also because of the rapidly changing political context over the year (in the case of milestone 1) and a lack of clarity among stakeholders on what the milestone was meant to deliver (in the case of milestone 3). In contrast, there has been significant progress towards milestone 2, although concrete results are yet to be demonstrated.
Development of local democracy legislation: (1.1) Wide public engagement on developing and finalising policy proposals; (1.2). Publication of analysis of stakeholder views; (1.3.) Introduction of Bill to parliament
This milestone, as presented in the action plan, has not been achieved. The introduction of a Local Democracy Bill was initially an SNP manifesto commitment with the aim of decentralising functions, budgets and oversight to communities. The action plan committed the Government to conducting wide public engagement on developing and finalising policy proposals, and publishing the analysis of stakeholder views by the end of 2017, with a view to introducing the bill to parliament by 2019.
According to Alasdair McKinlay, the Government´s Head of Community Empowerment, a range of circumstances has led the government to rethink their strategy and conduct a broader local governance review between January and June 2018 before introducing the legislation, as initially planned, including an already planned review of the role of local government in relation to health and community councils, council elections in May 2017, the snap UK elections in June 2017 and the fallout from the 2016 Brexit referendum Interview with Alasdair McKinlay and Brian Logan, Scottish Government, 7 November, Edinburgh . Instead, the local governance review was included in the Scottish Government´s Programme for Government 2017/18 http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0052/00524214.pdf . The review aims to ensure that changes to governance arrangements, including through the Local Democracy Bill, are informed by a wide range of views about how best to bring control over budgets and services closer to local communities. This will involve building an understanding among stakeholders and citizens about the scope for change, and supporting ideas which can improve the way decisions are taken about public services in local communities Scottish Government (2017) Local Governance Review: Stakeholder Engagement Strategy (unpublished) .
According to Alasdair McKinlay, the review will go beyond a discussion about government structures and the proposed legislation to include a much broader conversation about promoting local inclusive growth and community empowerment, with two tracks: one the community level and one at the local government level Interview with Alasdair McKinlay and Brian Logan, Scottish Government, 7 November, Edinburgh . COSLA welcomed the widening of the scope of the review and noted their desire to co-produce it with government http://www.cosla.gov.uk/sites/default/files/private/leaders-programmeforgovernmentreport.pdf .
Improved tools and techniques for citizen participation: (2.1) A prototype model of a Scottish Approach to Service Design will be co-produced and used by 20 organisations involved in the design of public services; (2.2) People whose first or preferred language is BSL will be able to participate on a fair and equal basis in the design of Scotland´s digital public services and policies; (2.3) Guidance on inclusive methods and tools for service design will be published in an accessible website as they emerge through the development of the Scottish Approach to Service Design and these joint actions.
This milestone includes 3 sub-components. For the purpose of this review, the first and third components have been merged as they represent different elements of the same product (a model of a Scottish Approach to Service Design). All the activities under this milestone have seen substantial progress although they have not all been completed by end of 2017.
The prototype model for service design takes the form of a playbook, which includes a set of principles and basic tools for designing public services from a citizen point of view. The final playbook will be an interactive website from which those responsible for service design will be able to access a description of the principles of service design, a description of the different processes involved, and a range of service design tools that can be used at different stages. An initial sketch of the playbook was completed in December 2017, with a full draft version expected by March 2018, beyond the period in review (1 January to 31 December 2017) Interview with Cat Macaulay, Scottish Government, 24 November, via Skype . Although the playbook has not been co-produced and used by 20 organisations as stated in the action plan, it has been developed in collaboration with a range of key stakeholders, primarily the Digital Office for Scottish Local Government and the NHS Improvement Service, as well as third sector organisations such as the SCVO, and Open Change (a design organisation in the third sector) Interview with Cat Macaulay, Scottish Government, 24 November, via Skype .
In addition, the government is hiring a service designer to work with the NHS healthcare improvement service to help accelerate service design work. The government is also working with a network of service designers and user researchers to create a repository of design and service patents, running workshops See for example: https://blogs.gov.scot/digital/2017/07/03/service-design-champions/ with user researchers across UK to support more inclusive participation in service design, and working with elected representatives to ensure that they also understand the principles of participatory service design Interview with Cat Macaulay, Scottish Government, 24 November, via Skype .
According to Cat Macaulay, from the Scottish Government´s Digital Directorate, the government´s Social Security Programme represents an important test case for the emerging Scottish Approach to Service Design Interview with Cat Macaulay, Scottish Government, 24 November, via Skype . The programme has developed a user research and design strategy to provide expertise and capacity to support inclusive, collaborative, service design, project development and delivery through the entire service design cycle. A key component of the strategy is building an 'engagement culture' within the programme by committing every member of the Social Security Programme to meeting service users every year Scottish Government (2017) Engaging users in the design of Social Security: URSD engagement Strategy (unpublished) . The disability benefits component of the programme, which is both the biggest and most controversial element, began the discovery phase in October 2017, with service users involved from inception Interview with Cat Macaulay, Scottish Government, 24 November, via Skype . To this end the government has convened a user panel of 2400 people from across Scotland who have lived experience of applying for benefits https://beta.gov.scot/publications/social-security-experience-panels-faqs/ and who have committed to participating in different sessions over a period of three years.
The timeframe for the full realisation of the second component of this milestone (participation of the BSL community in the design of Scotland´s digital public services and policies) is 2020. However, progress has been made over the year through the development and publication of the Government´s first British Sign Language (BSL) National Plan which runs from 2017 to 2023. The action plan is a key requirement of the recently introduced BSL (Scotland) Act 2015 and sets out ten long-term goals for BSL in Scotland, including improved access to a wide range of information and public services in BSL by 2020 http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2017/10/3540 . The plan was developed in collaboration with an advisory group of 11 BSL users and representatives of 9 public bodies. The BSL users were selected to reflect their own experiences in a personal capacity, rather than as representatives of organisations Interview with Hilary Third, Scottish Government, 3 November, Edinburgh .
Under the BSL (Scotland) Act 2015, every local authority, territorial health board, college and university also has to develop its own plan within the next year. Therefore, the next step for the government is to shift from national to local and sectoral support, providing guidance to a range of organisations on developing these plans. In the longer term the government will also focus on implementation of the national plan and the development of a progress report by 2020 Interview with Hilary Third, Scottish Government, 3 November, Edinburgh .
Open Government Movement: Jointly develop a programme of engagement with civil society including a minimum of 6 events over the course of the Pioneer year
Progress on this milestone has been limited. The milestone commits to a jointly developed programme of engagement with civil society including a minimum of 6 events. However, discussions with both Scottish Government and civil society representatives revealed a lack of consensus around the exact nature and purpose of these events and responsibility for leading on this milestone, which makes it difficult to judge the extent to which it has been achieved as intended.
The Scottish Government´s October progress update on the action plan states, with reference to this milestone, that 'the SCVO have led a series of engagement events in partnership with a range of organisations across civil society and the Civil Society OGP Network is growing'. These took the form of a series of informal 'meet-ups' in Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Fife https://opengovpioneers.miraheze.org/wiki/Scotland_Meet-ups#Current_Status_of_Open_Government_meet-ups . The progress update also states that 'the Scottish Government are working with partners to develop internally focussed events and guidance to improve understanding of OGP aims and participation processes amongst policy makers' OGP Scotland October 2017 update http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Government/OGP .
However, according to Paul Bradley from the SCVO, the meet-up events were not conceived of as directly contributing to this milestone, although they have contributed to the broader movement building agenda. Likewise, in his view, while developing and growing the OGP network clearly contributes to the broader goal of building a movement around open government in Scotland, it does not form part of this milestone Interview with Paul Bradley, SCVO, 3 November, Glasgow .
Early results: did it open government?
Civic Participation: No change
The aim of this commitment is to address the widely held desire among Scottish citizens to play a more active role in decisions that affect them and their communities, including decisions on how public services are designed and run. It was rated as having moderate potential impact given its clear relevance to the OGP value of citizen participation and to addressing a number of the challenges and demands identified by citizens. However, of the 7 components (split between three milestones) envisaged under this commitment, only four of them were expected to be completed within the action plan timeframe. At the same time, milestone 1 has been put on hold, while milestone 3 has suffered from a lack of clear direction. Coupled with the limited specificity of two of the milestones, this means that it is ultimately too early to ascertain the extent to which it has had an impact in opening government.
This applies in particular to the first milestone. While the decision to delay the development of the proposed Local Government Bill in anticipation of a broader local governance review is a pragmatic one, any impact of this stream of work is a long way from being realised at the action plan implementation period.
In contrast, there are some early, if localised, signs of a change in engagement culture within government as a result of the second milestone. According to Cat Macaulay, the government´s work on creating a set of shared principles - including a commitment to citizen participation, inclusivity and accessibility - as well as developing a standardised approach to service design is an important first step towards shifting the culture of service design away from traditional operational delivery models. The most tangible example of this shift is in the design of the Social Security Programme, as described above.
A number of civil society representatives also recognised the promise which the programme - and in particular the citizen panel - holds, although they also noted some scepticism around how open the process will ultimately turn out to be. Jamie Livingston, from Oxfam Scotland, and Lucy McTernan and Ruchir Shah from the SCVO, all stressed that the ultimate test of the citizen panels will be the extent to which they lead to concrete changes in policy which reflect the needs identified by the panel Interview with Jamie Livingston and Francis Stuart, Oxfam Scotland, 2 November, Edinburgh: Interview with Lucy McTernan and Ruchir Shah, SCVO, 1 November, Edinburgh . Likewise, for Leah Lockhart from the Democratic Society, the key to impact is creating a change of culture from within and bringing expertise into public services. In this respect she noted that 'small successes and changes are really quite valuable right now' Interview with Leah Lockhart, Democratic Society, 1 November, via telephone .
The expectations around the Social Security Programme are well recognised by the Scottish Government. As noted by Cat Macaulay, the first iteration is unlikely to meet all expectations, partly because it will initially require a certain amount of 'lift and shift' of existing and complex processes from the UK social security system. Therefore, she sees it a critical for government to focus on 'the culture, systems, processes and people to gear up for the second phase' Interview with Cat Macaulay, Scottish Government, 24 November, via Skype .
In much the same way, it is too early to identify any concrete results from the work around BSL given that the action plan has only just been developed. Nevertheless, Hilary Third described the process for developing the BSL (Scotland) Act 2015, which preceded the plan, as 'a game-changer for parliament' while the government´s treatment of BSL as a language and cultural issue, rather than as a means of communication to support for disabled people, also represented a shift in attitude towards the needs of the BSL community Interview with Hilary Third, Scottish Government, 3 November, Edinburgh . However, she also noted the challenge - which is not unique to this strand of work - of ensuring that the learning from such approaches is translated into other areas of work, beyond BSL. This latter point is critical to ensuring that approaches to participation and openness within Scottish Government can have broader impact.
With regard to the third milestone, given the lack of clarity around roles, responsibilities and the overall purpose of the planned activities, early results are difficult to identify. As noted above, the definition of what is to be included under the banner of an open government movement is contested.
On the government side, the challenge, according to Emma Harvey, is finding the right levels at which to pitch open government. For many civil servants open government is not always seen as immediately relevant to their work, and it is often wrongly equated with a more narrow focus on FoI. On the other hand, many within government are actually doing work which is very relevant to open government agenda, but without labelling it as such. Thus, while there is a growing number of civil servants within government who have understood the purpose of OGP, including at senior levels, the challenge, in her view, is knowing how far to push the message more broadly Interview with Doreen Grove and Emma Harvey, Scottish Government, 9 November, Edinburgh . Lucy McTernan and Ruchr Shah from the SCVO, meanwhile, acknowledged the work of the Ingage team in encouraging broader participation from government in the Scotland Open Government Network but stressed the need for this movement to grow further within government to achieve greater impact in transforming culture Interview with Lucy McTernan and Ruchir Shah, SCVO, 1 November, Edinburgh .
On the civil society side, Ruchir Shah from noted a growing interest in OGP from civil society which he hadn't anticipated, citing the growth in the OGP network over time as one example of this. In his view, efforts to link the OGP to the SDGs has helped make open government more tangible for many CSOs. Interview with Lucy McTernan and Ruchir Shah, SCVO, 1 November, Edinburgh . On the other hand, other CSO representatives noted a lack of clarity around the purpose of OGP in Scotland and the need to link up with existing communities working on OGP relevant issues, including some of those involved in the original conversations around the action plan Interview with Jamie Livingston and Francis Stuart, Oxfam Scotland, 2 November, Edinburgh; Interview with Leah Lockhart, Democratic Society, 1 November, via telephone .
· This commitment would benefit from a more structured and coordinated approach to implementing participatory techniques across government departments, by joining up existing pockets of good practice. The Democratic Society´s proposed work on mapping existing participatory approaches in use is to be encouraged as a starting point for helping government and others to identify the best participatory approaches for different contexts, and the tools and skills needed.
· Based on an improved understanding of existing practice, future iterations of this commitment should include a more well-defined set of activities attached to specific policy areas and which are clearly measurable and can be implemented with an OGP action plan cycle.
· In order to continue building an OGP movement in Scotland, the Scotland Open Government Network should focus on developing a coherent narrative for what OGP in Scotland aims to achieve accompanied by clear messages targeted at different sectors. This would enable the network to better engage with existing civil society groups with a thematic or sectoral focus by explaining in more concrete terms what OGP can bring to their work. The Ingage team, meanwhile should aim to build a similar understanding across government departments.
Financial and Performance Transparency
SCO0006, 2018, Anti-Corruption
Open Policy Making and Participation in Service Delivery
SCO0007, 2018, Capacity Building
Improve Data Use
SCO0008, 2018, Access to Information
Public Service Accountability
SCO0009, 2018, Legislation & Regulation
Transparency and Participation
SCO0010, 2018, Citizenship & Immigration
SCO0001, 2017, Anti-Corruption
Measuring Scotland’s Progress
SCO0002, 2017, Capacity Building
Deliver a Fairer Scotland
SCO0003, 2017, Local Commitments
Participatory Budgeting (Also Known as Community Choices in Scotland)
SCO0004, 2017, Capacity Building
SCO0005, 2017, Capacity Building