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United Kingdom

Ongoing Collaborative Approach to Open Government Reform (UK0075)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: United Kingdom – Third National Action Plan 2016-18

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Cabinet Office and Involve

Support Institution(s): UK government departments and UK Parliament. In consultation with colleagues in Northern Ireland Executive, Scottish Government and Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Assembly, Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly; UK Open Government Network, National Council of Voluntary Organisation (NCVO)

Policy Areas

E-Government, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: United Kingdom End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, United Kingdom Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Objective: Ensure the UK Open Government Partnership (OGP) remains a key platform for ongoing dialogue, collaboration and open government reform, with governments, parliaments and civil society across the UK. Status quo: The development of this action plan has again demonstrated the benefits of an open and collaborative approach to policy making. Through working with partners from government, Parliament and civil society across the UK, the plan has benefited from a large range of ideas, challenge, expertise, creativity and energy. The result is a more ambitious and comprehensive set of commitments than would have been developed by government alone. The OGP has helped to inspire and focus government and civil society collaboration on open government reform in the UK. However, the two-year timescale of an action plan can mean that: the political or policy window for potential commitments is missed, activity and collaboration happens in bursts rather than consistently, the OGP process happens in parallel to other domestic or multilateral processes. We want to address these weaknesses and build on the success of the OGP in the UK by embedding an ongoing collaborative approach to open government reform. Ambition: As well as being the beneficiaries of open government, citizens and civil society are key to bringing the transformation about. We want the OGP in the UK to be the platform for ongoing dialogue, collaboration and open government reform, and this partnership to include increasing numbers of citizens, civil society organisations and public institutions.To support this we will: be approaching this action plan as a rolling plan, where new commitments are developed and added over its lifespan, continue to work collaboratively across governments, parliaments and the wider public sector in all nations of the UK, broaden engagement with civil society and citizens to ensure that we are focusing efforts on issues that matter most, engage with civil society and citizens on an ongoing basis, having honest conversations about progress across open government and collaboratively identifying, developing and implementing new reforms

IRM End of Term Status Summary

13. Ongoing collaborative approach to open government reform

Commitment Text:Identify, develop and implement robust and ambitious open government commitments on an ongoing basis through collaboration with partners in governments, parliaments and civil society across the UK.

Objective:Ensure the UK Open Government Partnership (OGP) remains a key platform for ongoing dialogue, collaboration and open government reform, with governments, parliaments and civil society across the UK.

Status quo:The development of this action plan has again demonstrated the benefits of an open and collaborative approach to policy making. Through working with partners from government, Parliament and civil society across the UK, the plan has benefited from a large range of ideas, challenge, expertise, creativity and energy.

The result is a more ambitious and comprehensive set of commitments than would have been developed by government alone. The OGP has helped to inspire and focus government and civil society collaboration on open government reform in the UK. However, the two-year timescale of an action plan can mean that:

The political or policy window for potential commitments is missed

Activity and collaboration happens in bursts rather than consistently

The OGP process happens in parallel to other domestic or multilateral processes

We want to address these weaknesses and build on the success of the OGP in the UK by embedding an ongoing collaborative approach to open government reform.

Ambition:As well as being the beneficiaries of open government, citizens and civil society are key to bringing the transformation about.

We want the OGP in the UK to be the platform for ongoing dialogue, collaboration and open government reform, and this partnership to include increasing numbers of citizens, civil society organisations and public institutions.

To support this we will:

Be approaching this action plan as a rolling plan, where new commitments are developed and added over its lifespan

Continue to work collaboratively across governments, parliaments and the wider public sector in all nations of the UK

Broaden engagement with civil society and citizens to ensure that we are focussing efforts on issues that matter most

Engage with civil society and citizens on an ongoing basis, having honest conversations about progress across open government and collaboratively identifying, developing and implementing new reforms

Milestones:

1. Government and civil society will work together to develop and communicate an approach to implementation that supports transparency on progress of implementing commitments and provides forums for engagement at all levels to hold government to account

2. We will identify priority stakeholders and policy areas to inform an approach to broadening engagement and the priority focus for future commitments, including identifying platforms for communicating open government policy

3. The UK Open Government Civil Society Network will review its governance, terms of reference and working practices to ensure that it is able to continue to effectively build, involve and represent a broad membership

4. Commitments will be updated with new milestones as necessary to provide further clarity on agreed approaches to take work forward work

5. New commitments will be published at a minimum of two points in the two-year plan cycle. These will be developed through a co-creation process with civil society, meeting the OGP criteria for starred commitments

Responsible institution: Cabinet Office and Involve

Supporting institutions: Involve UK government departments and UK Parliament. In consultation with colleagues in Northern Ireland Executive, Scottish Government and Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Assembly, Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly. UK Open Government Network, National Council of Voluntary Organisation (NCVO)

Start date: May 2016

End date: June 2018

Commitment Aim:

This commitment was designed to strengthen the joint government-civil society OGP process in the UK. As the commitment text points out, some commitments or proposals can be lost because of the two-year window for implementation. While many of those involved saw relations as collaborative, there is still room for improvement.[Note 130: Cabinet Office, Self-assessment online survey - summary of results, online survey September 2017.]

The commitment was shared between the UK Cabinet Office, the coordinating CSO Involve and UK devolved bodies, and involves a series of changes including an agreement to close working between government and CSOs, extending the network and creating a ‘rolling' programme of commitments and milestones to maintain momentum.[Note 131: Meeting between CSO and government, telephone conference call, July 2017.] The key was to help identify priority stakeholders and bring them in.[Note 132: Interview with Thom Townsend and William Gerry, Cabinet Office, 14 September 2017.]

Status

Midterm: Substantial

Following a series of meetings, CSOs and government released a joint statement to:

• Collaborate in identifying, developing and implementing new reforms throughout the period of the action plan;

• Engage on an ongoing basis, having honest conversations about progress across open government; and

• Broaden the number of citizens and civil society organisations who actively engage in open government activities and who hold government to account. [Note 133: Tim Hughes, ‘Statement on ongoing government and civil society collaboration on open government', http://www.opengovernment.org.uk/2016/10/07/statement-on-ongoing-government-and-civil-society-collaboration-on-open-government/ ]

The milestone on identifying areas for new commitments with new stakeholders led to a discussion in November 2016, during which civil society representatives highlighted the importance of reflecting the priorities of citizens and the government.[Note 134: UK government, ‘OGP UK National Action Plan 2016/18 Commitment progress update, December 2016. ] The Cabinet Office published an open record of events and key publications, but it covers events only into 2017. The review of the UK Open Government Civil Society Network was completed and overseen by CSO Involve.[Note 135: Tim Hughes, ‘Terms of Reference of the UK Open Government Network', http://www.opengovernment.org.uk/resource/terms-of-reference-of-the-uk-open-government-network/ ]

In December 2016, the OGP process was rolled out to include a further four commitments for Northern Ireland, nine for Wales and one for Scotland, more than doubling the number of commitments and broadening involvement by civil society actors in the respective countries.[Note 136: Interview with Thom Townsend and William Gerry, Cabinet Office, 14 September 2017. ] This was not what some of the CSOs imagined. Some organisations saw the commitment as a way of introducing new, perhaps symbolic, policies outside of the formal OGP-IRM process to maintain momentum.[Note 137: Meeting between CSO and government, telephone conference call, July 2017.]

End of Term: Complete

Since the midterm review, officials have organised regular meetings of the multi-stakeholder group every four months, as well as an annual meeting with the minister responsible for OGP. Meetings were regularly attended by the CSO representatives. In addition, the UK government emphasised the importance of informal contacts with leads and individuals which, though hard to capture, had played an important part in the overall process. The UK government and civil society representatives were also part of a 10 April meeting in Scotland - see the update on Scotland for more details.[Note 138: Interview with Katie Holder and Thom Townsend, DCMS, 8 August 2018.]

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Marginal

Civic Participation: Did Not Change

The commitment was designed to improve co-ordination between CSOs and government and maintain the momentum for change across the two-year period. Though the commitment did not directly open government, the inclusion of all four nations of the UK in the process and the subsequent effects, leading to stronger networks, more commitments and a cross-UK summit on open government led by Scotland, all had an impact indirectly on access to information by highlighting the policy and generating discussion and ideas. There was also openness on a more day-to-day basis with the publication of meetings, meeting notes and a timeline of government action in a more systematic way than had happened previously in other action plans.

Carried Forward?

The commitment was not carried forward. The UK government's consultation on the national action plan for Open Government 2018-2020 proposed a further commitment around ‘public participation in digital and data policy development' that covers similar themes and aims (though this is a suggestion and not government policy) .[Note 139: UK Government (2018), Consultation draft of the national action plan for Open Government 2018 – 2020, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1XGUs6X8EHSOm00U-rX2_8cAoq7MnDsBjnetQeW0vnzA/edit#heading=h.y5i6179pcs8d ]


Commitments

Open Government Partnership