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United Kingdom

Sustainable Open Government (UK0096)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: United Kingdom Action Plan 2019-2021

Action Plan Cycle: 2019

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Scottish Government, in partnership with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and OGP Scotland Network

Support Institution(s): Other actors involved - government Representatives of all spheres of government in Devolved Administrations Other actors involved - CSOs, private sector, working groups, multilaterals, etc OGP Europe support unit, OGP Civil Society networks

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, Local Commitments, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: United Kingdom Design Report 2019-2021

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

Objective
Scotland will lead a programme of discussions over the next two years to
identify how best to support the spread of Open Government policy and
practice across public services.
The work plan for the two years and the groups taking it forward will be
determined at an initial meeting of representatives from all spheres of
government, civil society, citizens, and experts from across the UK in the spring
of 2019.
The aim will be to build upon the collaborative work already carried out across
all jurisdictions; establish a process to share learning across the UK; to establish
effective, effective ways to lead and spread Open Government - through
collaborative dialogue between governments, civil society and experts.
It will have a number of working groups to develop options for the models of
leadership and guidance which can support Open Government becoming the
way of working across public services. It will consider to what degree that this
spread is dependent upon access to the benefits of direct membership of OGP.
The working groups may consider what mechanisms could support:
● improved collaborative working within and across the spheres of
government, so that open government practices in transparency,
accountability and participation are spread through public services
● the role of civil society to ensure there is a system which is sustainable,
empowering, effective and recognises the roles of a vibrant civil society
● raising the profile of open government with citizens
● the relationship with OGP so we can all reap the benefits of international
shared learning more equitably and effectively
It is proposed that this work will draw on the expertise from OGP and from the
participating jurisdictions and support the priorities in each place. It could
operate by meetings and remote discussions, with each group coming together
at least four times over the next 2 years.
In addition, it is proposed that the output from the working groups comes
together to a high level learning event in late spring 2020. This will be aimed at
ensuring senior political (where possible), administrative, and civil society
buy-in to support open government activity for the next National Action Plan
cycle.

What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
The global public problem we are addressing is the growing lack of trust in
governments, processes and power. The Open Government Partnership
(OGP)’s potential contribution to democratic renewal, at home and across the
world is much greater if all aspects of governance are supported to become
more participative, transparent and accountable.
The OGP has reviewed the first cycle of Open Government subnational/local
members of the ‘Pioneers’ programme, review report available in the papers
for the International Steering Group. The review recognised the energy,
innovation and new political leadership the Pioneers (including Scotland)
brought from all levels of government. It also acknowledged that commitments
owned by administrations delivering services are more likely to deliver direct
improvement in people’s lives.
The report also acknowledged that it would be difficult for OGP to quickly
expand as an organisation. The questions this raises resonate with the work
Scotland led in the previous UK NAP 3. We recognised that if Open
Government is to reach right through the system of public services it needs
collaborative – not hierarchical - leadership; requires a learning environment,
clear direction and support as well as an active civil society, able to engage
and challenge governments at every level.
Further work will be undertaken by the OGP Global team during 2019 to
identify the best way(s) to spread open practices and government-civil society
engagement in all spheres of government. This commitment aims to support
that work by considering the options to expand open government practices
throughout public services across the UK.
The changing nature of democracy and varying levels of devolution in the
United Kingdom make it an ideal testing ground for beginning to develop a
robust framework for effective open government. The desired output would be
one which enables OGP Action Plans to be developed in the places and at the
right level that is most effective for the people they serve. This work could be
supported collaboratively, within and across jurisdictions, with governments
and civil society. The effective sharing of learning can help us all to tackle each
jurisdiction’s most significant issues in ways which will support the delivery of
the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?
This commitment will provide the space for deliberation and discussion
through specific working groups and summit discussions. This structure will
offer the opportunity for all actors who chose to take part – be they political,
official, civil society or public – to bring their expertise together, and propose
options which support the spread of open government effectively.
For NAP3; Scotland led work to bring together a group of leaders from national
governments in the UK and civil society as well as representatives of Local
Authorities in Scotland to consider the process of shared learning on open
government. The discussion was chaired by the Scottish Minister for
Parliamentary Business, Joe FitzPatrick, and facilitated by the Head of Open
Government at the OECD, Alessandro Bellantoni. This commitment will build
on the enthusiasm at that meeting for improving how we share good practice
across the UK. Scotland will lead a programme of discussions over the coming
two years to identify how best to support the spread of Open Government
policy and practice across public services.

Lead implementing organisation
Scottish Government, in partnership with the Convention of Scottish Local
Authorities and OGP Scotland Network

Timeline
Spring 2019 - Summer 2021

OGP values
Public Accountability, Civic participation

Other actors involved - government
Representatives of all spheres of government in Devolved Administrations
Other actors involved - CSOs, private sector, working groups, multilaterals, etc
OGP Europe support unit, OGP Civil Society networks

Verifiable and measurable milestones to fulfil the
commitment
Hold working level discussions across the 4 nations to
plan the programme of work-streams and outputs

Hold a workshop for each of the work streams to
develop their thinking

Hold High level working group with representatives
from each of the work-streams, OGP Support Unit and
to include political leaders. To discuss and agree
options for future sharing of learning across UK

Final meeting of working level group to put into action
the outputs from the work-streams and the high-level
discussions

IRM Midterm Status Summary

7. Effective knowledge sharing for sustainable OG policies and practices across public services

Main Objective

“Scotland will lead a programme of discussions over the next two years to identify how best to support the spread of Open Government policy and practice across public services.

The work plan for the two years and the groups taking it forward will be determined at an initial meeting of representatives from all spheres of government, civil society, citizens, and experts from across the UK in the spring of 2019.

The aim will be to build upon the collaborative work already carried out across all jurisdictions; establish a process to share learning across the UK; to establish effective, effective ways to lead and spread Open Government - through collaborative dialogue between governments, civil society and experts.

It will have a number of working groups to develop options for the models of leadership and guidance which can support Open Government becoming the way of working across public services. It will consider to what degree that this spread is dependent upon access to the benefits of direct membership of OGP.

The working groups may consider what mechanisms could support:

  • improved collaborative working within and across the spheres of government, so that open government practices in transparency, accountability and participation are spread through public services
  • the role of civil society to ensure there is a system which is sustainable, empowering, effective and recognises the roles of a vibrant civil society
  • raising the profile of open government with citizens
  • the relationship with OGP so we can all reap the benefits of international shared learning more equitably and effectively

It is proposed that this work will draw on the expertise from OGP and from the participating jurisdictions and support the priorities in each place. It could operate by meetings and remote discussions, with each group coming together at least four times over the next 2 years.

In addition, it is proposed that the output from the working groups comes together to a high level learning event in late spring 2020. This will be aimed at ensuring senior political (where possible), administrative, and civil society buy-in to support open government activity for the next National Action Plan cycle.”

Milestones

  1. Hold working level discussions across the 4 nations to plan the programme of work-streams and outputs.
  2. Hold a workshop for each of the work streams to develop their thinking.
  3. Hold High level working group with representatives from each of the work-streams, OGP Support Unit and to include political leaders. To discuss and agree options for future sharing of learning across UK.
  4. Final meeting of working level group to put into action the outputs from the work-streams and the high-level discussions.

Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see the United Kingdom’s action plan at https://bit.ly/2YPqNoV.

IRM Design Report Assessment

Verifiable:

Yes

Relevant:

Civic Participation

Potential impact:

Minor

 

Commitment Analysis
Under this commitment, the Scottish Government aims to collaborate on best practices for open governance policies across the UK regions and devolved nations. The commitment was included in the UK’s national action plan to bring the devolved nations and regions into closer alignment with each other on open government working practices, empower those regions and broaden awareness of open government principles. The activities centre on dialogue, workshops, collaborative development, sharing of information and training to strengthen open government practices across the different jurisdictions.

The UK has three devolved governments (Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales) in addition to the Westminster government, which retains responsibility for English governance. Open government practices in the devolved governments already exist. However, the Scottish Government became the first in the UK to join the OGP local programme, and as a result has developed a more focused and independent range of open government activities. The commitment is relevant to the OGP value of civic participation, as it will involve holding dialogues with civil society, citizens and experts from across the UK on best practices in open government. Most of these dialogues will take place in 2019, while the working groups were due to come together for a “high-level learning event” in late spring 2020.

This commitment could improve the status quo of uneven open governance practices at the local level by joining up open government practitioners across the devolved governments, facilitating the sharing of learning and practice, and providing opportunity for collaborative action. This could in turn strengthen the network of open government practitioners performing comparable, high-quality open government activities across the nations. However, some of the burden of OGP-related work has fallen on CSOs already stretched in terms of capacity. In addition, there are concerns that the two programmes of work, the action plan and Scotland’s local OGP programme, may suffer because CSOs lack capacity and are not funded for participating in this work. [31] There is also difficulty in organising meetings between the three devolved nations with the relevant stakeholders due to other commitments, thus the starting point for this work is relatively low. [32] Lastly, according to an interviewed civil society stakeholder, the commitment does not address the necessary support and participation considerations (such as cost, political and administrative support to attend, and allocated time to do so) relating to civil society involvement across the devolved nations, which is generally key to OGP practice. [33] Therefore, it is difficult to assess the potential shift in the governance practices of the devolved regions as higher than minor.

The collaborative and group-centred nature of the activities planned for this commitment may be significantly delayed or impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are currently no mitigation measures in place to migrate these sessions online, but this is due to the need to prioritise response-related activity.  

[31] Shaben Begum, Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance, interview 17 July 2020.
[32] Doreen Grove, Scottish Government, interview 23 July 2020.
[33] Alex Stobart, MyDex CIC, interview 20 July 2020.

Commitments

Open Government Partnership