What the Scottish Government does

The Scottish Government runs the country in relation to matters that are devolved from Westminster.

This includes: the economy, education, health, justice, rural affairs, housing, environment, equal opportunities, consumer advocacy and advice, transport and taxation. The power to set a Scottish rate of income tax is a new addition to our responsibilities and further powers will be devolved to Scotland over the coming years.

The Scottish Parliament

Government is separate from parliament. The Scottish Parliament is made up of all elected members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) and is the law making body for devolved matters. It considers any proposed legislation and scrutinises the activities and policies of the Scottish Government through debates, parliamentary questions and the work of committees.

If you are looking to find out about MSPs you can find this information on the Scottish Parliament website.

National Performance Framework

The National Performance Framework sets an overall purpose and vision for Scotland. It highlights the broad national outcomes that support the purpose and provides measures on how well Scotland is progressing towards them.

Find out more about the National Performance Framework.

Programme for Government

The annual Programme for Government sets out the policies, actions and legislation that we will take forward each year.


A policy is a statement of what the government is trying to achieve and how it will do it. Policies describe the work the Scottish Government is doing to achieve its strategic objectives.


A bill is a proposal for a new law or a major change to an existing one. Most bills are introduced to the Scottish Parliament by the Scottish Government and the process begins with the formulation of policy by the government.

A bill becomes law once it is agreed by the Scottish Parliament and then by The King. From then on it becomes known as an act.

Find out more about bills on the Scottish Parliament website. You can also find a list of current bills going through parliament.

Once an act is in place, subordinate legislation, mostly in the form of Scottish statutory instruments (SSIs) is needed to start it working and add the fine details which make it operate correctly.

Details of all legislation in the UK is available on legislation.gov.uk.


Government produces official statistics about most areas of public life. Statistics are used by people to make informed decisions and to measure the success of government policies and services.

You can find out how official statistics are produced and published by the Scottish Government and other bodies.


The government publishes information about how government works to allow you to make politicians, public services and public organisations more accountable. We are committed to publishing information about:

  • how much public money has been spent on what
  • the job titles of senior civil servants and how much they are paid
  • how the government is doing against its objectives, via the National Performance Framework (see below)

Freedom of information (FOI)

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 gives you the right to ask any public sector organisation for recorded information.

Anyone can make a request for information – known as a freedom of information (FOI) request. There are no restrictions on age, nationality or where you live.

You can contact us directly by letter or email to make a request.

When making your request you should include:

  • your name
  • an address for correspondence
  • a description of the information you want

You should receive a response within 20 working days.

More about FOI

Work for the Scottish Government

As an employer committed to equality of opportunity, the government aims to employ a diverse workforce that reflects the people of Scotland and to offer a challenging and satisfying career. For current jobs and vacancies within the Scottish Government and related public bodies go to Work for us.

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