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Scotland, United Kingdom

Open Policy Making and Participation in Service Delivery (SCO0007)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Scotland Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: scottish government

Support Institution(s): Other Actors Involved State actors involved • Scottish Government • Director of Communications, • Chief Social Researcher • Chief Designer, • Digital Engagement, Public Service Reform • Race Equality team • COSLA CSOs, private sector, multilaterals, working groups Active partners could include • Civil Society organisations • Involve • SCDC • Democratic Society • Open Government Partnership Network • Academics and Gender experts

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Fiscal Openness, Justice, Legislation & Regulation, Legislative, Marginalized Communities, Open Regulations, Policing & Corrections, Public Participation, Public Participation in Budget/Fiscal Policy, Science & Technology, Subnational

IRM Review

IRM Report: Scotland Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

Commitment 2: Providing a framework to support systemic change in Scottish Government to improve the way people are able to participate in open policy making and service delivery
December 2018 – 2020 Lead implementing agency/actor Scottish Government Commitment description What is the public problem that the commitment will address? The Scottish Government is committed to working with people in Scotland to deliver policies and services that are designed to meet their needs. Openness is an outcome in Scotland’s refreshed National Performance Framework which Scottish Government wants to achieve by being open and participatory in how we work. While there is good progress and excellent examples of listening to, involving and working with citizens, communities and people across Scotland, improving participation was the highest priority to emerge from the public engagement on open government. This evidence clearly shows that concerns still exist about the processes of engagement and consultation used by Government, and wider public services. The result of this is a growing mistrust of both the processes and the outcomes. We heard concerns about all types of engagement. Issues include: • inconsistency of approach and lack of feedback; leaving people unsure what is done with their input • too much reliance on a small number of stakeholders, rather than seeking to involve the wider public (and causing consultation fatigue in a few) • too great a reliance on formal consultation mechanisms, and too often at a point where the options have been narrowed or all-but fixed • consultation documents often being complex and long, making them unsuitable for respondents unfamiliar with the arguments, the type of language or the actions – so excluding many
• insufficient use of participatory approaches that provide clear information and an opportunity to deliberate on options, early enough in the development of policies and services to effect the outcome • insufficient use of technology – many people now choose to communicate using phones, tablets and computers • insufficient accessibility support to ensure a wide range of people can participate fully and people’s time is properly valued. This commitment will be delivered with expertise from both public service and civil society, but is deliberately focused on effective support for public servants. The expectations placed on public servants to involve people in their work has changed. As government becomes more open and accessible, many have welcomed and embraced this change, but in a world with fewer resources, support and training for public servants needs to be effectively targeted. What is the commitment? (i.e. how will this be done?) In brief, we commit to developing a ‘Participation Framework’ which guides good practice across government. We will illustrate and test examples of approaches in key policy areas. We will also review practice on consultation. A Participation Framework will be developed based on the needs of public servants to make effective decisions on how, why and when to involve people in the development of policies and services openly. A primary aim is to give those delivering public services the confidence and understanding to use the matrix of methods and processes most effectively. Training, guidance and case studies will be developed to demonstrate progress in types of participation and in various policy settings. It will guide users through the creation of a policy through to implementation of a service. A Participation Framework will help users to navigate options, techniques and tools (including digital) for open policy making. Including Improvement Methodology, Service Design, User Research, deliberative processes; coproduction principles among others.
How will the commitment contribute to solving the public problem? (i.e. why do this?) The overall objective is to respond to the clear message from the public that there is a need for better participation. The bigger vision of this commitment is that people’s views, expertise and lived experience is feeding in to the right places in government, at the right times in the development of policy and services. We hope this will contribute to changing the relationship between citizen and state to one of collaboration and partnership. The expected result is to create guidance and identify training and process needs which can support public servants to make the meaningful involvement of people routine, effective and proportionate. It will support high quality participation tests that take into account who is participating and their contribution, as well as those who are not or cannot participate, in how this is used to improve development, design and delivery of policy, services and decision-making. The resulting improvement to engagement and participation practices across government will help embed the National Standards on Engagement. There should be a number of measurable improvements in the public experience of participating or engaging in governments work. Why is this commitment relevant to Open Government Partnership values? The commitment is relevant to the Open Government Partnership value of civic participation by opening up services, policy and decision-making to include and involve the public. This commitment is working towards creating a more meaningful experience of public participation and demonstrating the value of this. Additional information This is linked to the First Minister’s ambition for Scotland’s government to be more open and accessible, and the value of openness as a core value in the refreshed National Performance Framework.
How will the commitment contribute to solving the public problem? (i.e. why do this?) The overall objective is to respond to the clear message from the public that there is a need for better participation. The bigger vision of this commitment is that people’s views, expertise and lived experience is feeding in to the right places in government, at the right times in the development of policy and services. We hope this will contribute to changing the relationship between citizen and state to one of collaboration and partnership. The expected result is to create guidance and identify training and process needs which can support public servants to make the meaningful involvement of people routine, effective and proportionate. It will support high quality participation tests that take into account who is participating and their contribution, as well as those who are not or cannot participate, in how this is used to improve development, design and delivery of policy, services and decision-making. The resulting improvement to engagement and participation practices across government will help embed the National Standards on Engagement. There should be a number of measurable improvements in the public experience of participating or engaging in governments work. Why is this commitment relevant to Open Government Partnership values? The commitment is relevant to the Open Government Partnership value of civic participation by opening up services, policy and decision-making to include and involve the public. This commitment is working towards creating a more meaningful experience of public participation and demonstrating the value of this. Additional information This is linked to the First Minister’s ambition for Scotland’s government to be more open and accessible, and the value of openness as a core value in the refreshed National Performance Framework.
Guidance: • Advice and case studies on using a variety of participation • methods across the Scottish Government. This will explore the • various cultural, organisational and strategic uses of • participation in government and in current practice, to ensure • this guidance meets current needs and challenges. The • Participation Framework guidance may include: o making sense of terminology – a participation ‘jargon buster’ o decision-making tree – when and how to use different methods o understanding skills for participation – smart commissioning o knowledge bank collating the wealth of good existing guidance and practice o development and delivery of training plans o evaluation – how successful has your participatory activity been? • The Participation Framework and associated guidance will take account of protected characteristics, including specifically race and gender equality – linking into the below mentioned work. December 2018 Autumn 2019 Policy on accessibility for citizen participation We will develop a cross-government accessibility policy to help diminish barriers to engaging in government’s work. This could include creation of an expenses reimbursement policy for participants engaging in government work and/or guidance on different formats for producing information. People and interested organisations should be involved throughout the creation and testing of this policy. Spring 2019 2020
mprove the formal consultation process As part of the above work on guidance, we will specifically look at the formal consultation process commonly used in the Scottish Government as a tool in the policy-making cycle for engaging stakeholders and the wider public. A working group will be established to review practice, with the aim of helping policy-makers know when and how to use consultation, as one of many tools used in public engagement. This review will build on existing guidance specific to the consultation process. It will identify the appropriate support and advice for policy teams, across all sectors of government, which are considering seeking people’s views, on using alternative methods, where appropriate, to the circumstances, content and purpose. This guidance could help policy teams to consider alternative approaches to working with people, end users, citizens or stakeholder groups, while also improving practice on consultation. Spring 2019 2020 Develop a strategic approach to participation, specific to children and young people Work will be carried out to link the Children and Families strategic approach to participation in the broader Framework. This action is to develop a strategic approach to participation, specific to children and young people, as part of our Action Plan 2018-21 to progress human rights of children as well as building on the Year of Young People 2018 Legacy. Our aim is to mainstream the participation of children and young people in decision-making. It will demonstrate participation practice across government, share learning from specific policy-areas, such as Children and Families, and contribute to governmentwide improvement on participation practices. It will be evidenced by existing research and best practice as well as specific qualitative research into what works. It will carried out in conjunction with the research cross-sectoral working group. Spring 2019 2020
Experiment with attitudes to openness We will host events as safe spaces to explore what ‘openness’ means to people in their work. We will provide some advice and training around working in the open and working in the culture of open government. It is hoped this will begin to build an understanding of the issues and concerns that may make this difficult, and will build confidence in taking an open approach. ‘What does openness mean to you’ discovery events could involve a broad range of government and non-government participants. Jan 2019 2020 Testing citizen participation enabled by technology The Scottish Government is beginning to explore citizen participation enabled by online or digital means. It could be the right moment to explore these broad issues around accessibility, transparency and digital democracy. Accessibility will be at the heart of this exploration of where technology could be used to help those who face difficulty with current processes, as is being currently explored in the on-going work on e-voting pilots testing technology to bring people in, rather than exclude. This will include: • the progress monitoring mechanism set up for Open Government Partnership Action Plan, so that the public have online access to up-to-date delivery progress on commitments • scoping feasibility of and appetite for a single portal for engagement and participation opportunities across the public sector (for opportunities such as participatory budgeting). This work will be in partnership with COSLA, given interest from Local Authorities and possible other parties. • With the aim of improving communication about participation opportunities, we will explore how people could more easily find out about upcoming consultations by making this available online. This will help organisations and individuals better plan and prepare for responding and engaging in Scottish Government opportunities. The result of this could be a list published and available on the Scottish Government website. December 2018 2020
Exploration of deliberative and participatory methods through specific examples of active work: The Scottish Government will test guidance and methods of participation through several live areas of work, detailed below. These test sites will use the Open Government Partnership guidance produced by the deliberative practice group. The aim of linking these pieces of work under open government is to ensure learning is shared across government and externally. The following approaches will be tested, among others: Mini-publics The local governance review is underway, carrying out a Scotland-wide conversation on the future of local democracy (Democracy Matters). We will work alongside COSLA and our cross-sector enabling group to explore the potential of including mini public or citizen assemblies as part of the next phase of engagement. This would be an opportunity to test the use of dialogue and deliberation with citizens to progress the developing thinking on the future of local democracy in Scotland. Participatory budgeting and deliberative processes Work has been ongoing to develop a charter for participatory budgeting in Scotland that clearly identifies the principles and values that should underpin a mainstream approach to participatory budgeting (PB) and broader participative democracy. As part of this work, a deliberative process to set out a clear expectation of mainstream participatory budgeting will be held. The purpose will be to connect to the existing National Standards for Community Engagement, the requirements to carry out equality and human rights impact assessments, sustainability and environmental impact assessments as well as the use of other methods and tools such as the Place Standard. This work will link directly to and be part of the broader local governance review (see above) as a practical realisation of citizens participation and involvement in local decision making that affects their life opportunities and outcomes. Co-production The Scottish Governments seeks to deliver the actions that will deliver the change set out in the ‘Homelessness and rough sleeping’ action group's final report Ending Homelessness. Specific elements of this action plan will be developed in partnership with homelessness organisations and will find ways to include homeless people in the co-production process. December 2018 2020
Collective Leadership The Scottish Government is testing a new collaborative approach to solving some of society’s most complex problems through Collective Leadership. The Collective Leadership methodology uses highly skilled facilitation to coach a collaborative working group of leaders through difficult problems. This support is offered to cross-organisational groups which are grappling with a complex issue and are open to learning and doing things differently. One test site is improving the provision of health and social care services in Scottish prisons. The problem here is that people in prisons typically suffer from unusually high health inequalities, and their offending behaviour is often driven by health conditions, especially drug and alcohol misuse and mental health issues. The impact of repeat offending is felt by patients, victims and their respective families, communities and the wider public services who engage with this cohort of individuals in prison and after release. The ‘Health and Social Care in Prisons Programme’ will deliver national change to enable local partners to improve health and social care services to this group of patients. This includes integrating health and social care in prisons, delivering more transparent reporting on patients’ outcomes, delivering better IT systems, and broader structures for improving services and supporting the workforce. The work requires the close cooperation of organisations with very distinct organisational cultures, making it an area of social policy that can only be addressed by more effective collective leadership and joint working. Participants will be supported through the Collective Leadership for Scotland offer and the learning from this work made available through the Collective Leadership webpage, and at open learning events. Transparent and Open policy-making The Scottish Government will deliver the Programme for Government (2018) commitment to work with stakeholders and interest groups to develop a common public sector approach to Online Identity Assurance and to do this in an open and transparent way following open government principles and practice. The vision is to help people to prove who they are online, in a safe, secure way, for easier access to public services. There is a National Stakeholder Group with the remit to inform
the design, direction and prioritisation of the work programme from a stakeholder perspective. All Stakeholder Group meetings will continue to be as open as possible, with open invitations to interested members of the public, publication of all papers, and filming and streaming wherever possible. Papers and minutes of the Programme Board, which oversees programme governance, will also be published, contributing to transparency of decision making. Additionally, there will be blog posts, and public facing ‘show and tells’ to provide regular updates on the programme. The development work itself will be informed by the Scottish approach to service design, in order to design the new approach around the needs of individual people who will use those services. And a distinct citizen participation strand is planned to directly engage citizens around the programme themes of using a digital identity for online access to public services and protection of privacy and personal data. Research and evaluation on equality of participation Light touch research will be done to assess how the commitments on Open Government impact on gender and other protected characteristics. This focused study will include two learning events to share progress and ensure links to on going work on gender studies and equalities. The Scottish Government will deliver this commitment with first establishing a consortium of Scottish universities in partnership/co-sponsorship and other interested parties. The research will serve as learning for future Action Plan’s on open government and initiatives in considering the impact on equalities. Spring 2019 2020
Contact information Name of responsible person from implementing agency Doreen Grove Title, Department Head of Open Government, Ingage, Scottish Government Email and Phone Doreen.grove@gov.scot 07767343230 Other Actors Involved State actors involved • Scottish Government • Director of Communications, • Chief Social Researcher • Chief Designer, • Digital Engagement, Public Service Reform • Race Equality team • COSLA CSOs, private sector, multilaterals, working groups Active partners could include • Civil Society organisations • Involve • SCDC • Democratic Society • Open Government Partnership Network • Academics and Gender experts

IRM Midterm Status Summary

2 Providing a framework to support systemic change in Scottish Government to improve the way people are able to participate in open policy making and service delivery

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

“In brief, we commit to developing a ‘Participation Framework’ which guides good practice across government. We will illustrate and test examples of approaches in key policy areas. We will also review practice on consultation.  […]

Training, guidance and case studies will be developed to demonstrate progress in types of participation and in various policy settings. It will guide users through the creation of a policy through to implementation of a service.

A Participation Framework will help users to navigate options, techniques and tools (including digital) for open policy making. Including Improvement Methodology, Service Design, User Research, deliberative processes; coproduction principles among others.”

Activities

  1. Develop a Participation Framework, including (1.1) providing guidance, advice and case studies on using a variety of participation methods across the Scottish Government; (1.2.) developing a policy on accessibility for citizen participation (1.3.) establishing a working group to review practice on the formal consultation process (1.4.) developing a strategic approach to participation, specific to children and young people
  2. Host a series of ‘What does openness mean to you’ discovery events with a broad range of government and non-government participants to explore what ‘openness’ means to people in their work
  3. Test citizen participation enabled by technology, including: (3.1.) online progress monitoring of delivery progress on OGP commitments; (3.2.) scoping the feasibility of and appetite for a single portal for engagement and participation opportunities across the public sector (3.3.) explore how people could more easily find out about upcoming consultations by making this available online
  4. Explore deliberative and participatory methods through specific examples of active work, using the OGP guidance produced by the deliberative practice group, including; (4.1.) mini-publics; (4.2.) participatory budgeting and deliberative processes; (4.3.) co-production (with homeless organizations); (4.4.) collective leadership (for health and social care services in Scottish prisons).
  5. Conduct transparent and open policy-making on Online Identity Assurance through open stakeholder group meetings, publishing papers and minutes of the programme board, and blog posts and public facing ‘show and tells’.
  6. Conduct light touch research and evaluation on equality of participation (gender and other protected characteristics), including two learning events and by establishing a consortium of Scottish universities and other interested parties.

Start Date: December 2018

End Date: December 2020

Editorial Note: The text of the commitment has in some cases been abridged for the sake of brevity. For the full text of this commitment, see: “Scotland’s Open Government Action Plan for 2018-20: Commitments in detail”, pp 6-12.

 

Context and Objectives

Improving participation was the highest priority to emerge from the public engagement events to develop the second action plan. Participants raised concerns including: inconsistency of approach to public participation among government departments; reliance on a small number of stakeholders and formal consultation mechanisms; insufficient use of deliberative methods early enough in the development of policies and services; insufficient use of technology; and insufficient accessibility support. [9]

This commitment seeks to change the relationship between citizen and state to one of collaboration and partnership through the development of a participation framework for Scottish Government. This framework aims to:

  • improve understanding among civil servants of the benefits of involving people early in a process;
  • raise awareness of the skills needed to either carry out or commission effective, proportionate and inclusive participation processes, and;
  • help to equip people to use the right method, for the right reasons at the right time.

In order to achieve this, the commitment proposes to develop a set of guidance and training materials which can support public servants to make the meaningful involvement of people routine, effective and proportionate. The Participation Framework will be tested through a number of specific examples, with the results to be made publicly available. It will include an exploration of participation enabled by technology and an assessment of the impact on equality. The commitment is primarily relevant to the OGP value of civic participation by opening up services, policy and decision-making to involve the public in a more meaningful way and earlier in the process. Elements of the commitment are also relevant to the values of access to information (e.g. the work on open policy-making on online identity assurance) and technology and innovation for transparency and accountability (e.g. the work on testing citizen participation enabled by technology).

This commitment is specific enough to be verifiable. The core of the commitment, the participation framework, comprises a concrete set of deliverables (guidance material, accessibility policy, review of consultation processes) and test cases (mini-publics, participatory budgeting, co-production etc.). However, the breadth and number of discrete activities included under this commitment makes tracking progress on each one (and the contribution each makes to the broader goal of improving the quality of civic participation) challenging.

The IRM researcher deems this commitment to be potentially transformative. The Democratic Society has suggested changing the relationship between citizen and state requires focusing not merely on single actions or initiatives, but on the culture and skills among institutions and the public. In their words, the commitment should help achieve this “by providing a clear framework for improvement, and a strategy to engage, empower and motivate the workforce and develop their public participation skills.” [10] In this sense, the commitment also goes some way to responding to one of the key recommendations from the 2017 IRM report, namely that: “the government should consider investing in building the capacity of civil servants to understand the relevance of OGP and successfully implement commitments and for citizens to take up the opportunities afforded by their implementation.” [11]

The potential impact of this commitment is also bolstered by the fact that it ties into existing work on deliberative and participatory methods and could help mainstream the adoption of the National Standards for Community Engagement. [12] As noted by Kaela Scott from Involve, the framework will be developed in an iterative way that builds on projects that were being initiated at the time the plan was being written in order to systematically test the added value of different types of participatory processes under one overarching framework. [13]

Some of the proposed activities include:

  • the testing of “mini-publics” [14] as part of the government´s local governance review to consider how powers, responsibilities and resources are shared across national and local spheres of government, and within communities. [15]
  • developing actions in partnership with homeless organisations and homeless people to implement the recommendations set out in the ‘Homelessness and rough sleeping’ action group's final report. [16]
  • using the Collective Leadership methodology (a form of skilled facilitation to coach a collaborative working group of leaders across a range of organisations) to improve health and social care services to people in prisons who suffer from unusually high health inequalities.
  • developing a common public sector approach to online identity assurance (i.e. helping people to securely prove who they are online when accessing public services) in collaboration with a national stakeholder group, with open invitations to interested members of the public, publication of all papers, and filming and streaming wherever possible.

For these activities, the aim is to work as closely as possible with those who are directly affected by different challenges to develop solutions.

The extent to which the potential of this commitment is achieved in reality will depend on whether it is able to galvanise what are currently pockets of good practice within government into something more systemic. However, the action plan does not state how the framework will be rolled out across government once it is finalised. As noted by Elric Honoré, this commitment is trying to create system change by doing lots of little things. The proof will be on the extent to which these practices incrementally propagate across government. [17]

Next steps

The IRM researcher recommends that any future action plan maintains civic participation as its primary focus, building on the work of Scotland’s first and second action plans. More specifically:

  • The OGP Steering Group should consider continuing to frame any future iteration of this commitment around ongoing testing and improvement of the participation framework, including publishing the learning from the experiences. Ideally, as participatory and deliberative practices begin to embed themselves more widely in government practice, the methods can be rolled out in a larger set of contexts and policy areas (e.g. health boards, planning processes).
  • During implementation of the current plan it is recommended that the OGP Steering Group prioritise the development of a progress monitoring mechanism so that the public have online access to up-to-date delivery progress on commitments, as described under activity 3 above. Given the limited specificity of a number of the commitments, the IRM researcher considers that this should include a process for updating the activities with more concrete milestones as these become more well-defined through the action plan implementation period to enable subsequent verification. Importantly, a transparent monitoring tool would also help with outreach and enable stakeholders to better judge which stages they can get involved in, and influence, the implementation of commitments.
  • In the longer-term, as suggested by focus group participants reflecting on the action plan development process, [18] the OGP Steering Group could consider developing a centralised database of results from a wide range of consultative and participatory initiatives across the country to help avoid a sense of consultation fatigue. The results could be coded in open source locations and searchable by location, subject matter etc. This would represent an invaluable source of ongoing data and could increase the potential for future engagement on open government and other initiatives.
[9] Scotland's Open Government Action Plan 2018-2020: detailed commitments, https://www.gov.scot/publications/scotlands-open-government-action-plan-2018-20-detailed-commitments/
[11] See: Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): Scotland Final Report 2017 https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Scotland_Final-Report_2017.pdf
[12] Scottish Community Development Centre, National Standards for Community Engagement, https://www.scdc.org.uk/what/national-standards
[13] Interview with Kaela Scott, civil society member of OGP Steering Group, 14 May 2019.
[14] Mini-publics are small assemblies of citizens, demographically representative of the larger population, brought together to learn and deliberate on a topic in order to inform public opinion and decision-making, https://www.newdemocracy.com.au/2017/05/08/forms-of-mini-publics/
[15] Scottish Government, Democracy Matters – Your Community, Your Ideas, Your Future: consultation, https://www.gov.scot/publications/democracy-matters-community-ideas-future/
[16] Scottish Government, Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group: final recommendations report, https://www.gov.scot/publications/homelessness-and-rough-sleeping-action-group-final-report/    
[17] Interview with Elric Honoré, civil society chair of OGP Steering Group, 15 May 2019.

Commitments

  1. Financial and Performance Transparency

    SCO0006, 2018, Anti-Corruption

  2. Open Policy Making and Participation in Service Delivery

    SCO0007, 2018, Capacity Building

  3. Improve Data Use

    SCO0008, 2018, Access to Information

  4. Public Service Accountability

    SCO0009, 2018, Legislation & Regulation

  5. Transparency and Participation

    SCO0010, 2018, Citizenship & Immigration

  6. Financial Transparency

    SCO0001, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  7. Measuring Scotland’s Progress

    SCO0002, 2017, Capacity Building

  8. Deliver a Fairer Scotland

    SCO0003, 2017, Marginalized Communities

  9. Participatory Budgeting (Also Known as Community Choices in Scotland)

    SCO0004, 2017, Capacity Building

  10. Increasing Participation

    SCO0005, 2017, Capacity Building

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