Joe Fitzpatrick's speech at Open Government Partnership summit: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/17/01342
Date received: 19 June 2017
Date responded: 6 July 2017

Information requested

A copy of Joe Fitzpatrick's speech at the OGP Summit 'Leave no Trace' workshop, which is reported on the following web page (


Please find enclosed a copy of the information you requested at Annex A. Please note that the Minister for Parliamentary Business was taking part in a public round table discussion, not delivering a speech, therefore speaking points were not necessarily delivered exactly as drafted.

Annex: Summary speaking note


Why is the legislation in place? Has it been successful and did it solve the barriers to change we wanted it to?

Great pleasure to be invited to speak about the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011. The first public records legislation passed in Scotland for over 70 years. Main aim - to improve the quality of record keeping by 250 named Scottish public authorities. We consider it is achieving that aim.

Act was essential. It needed to address significant failures in public record keeping. It has proved its worth and is instrumental in delivering positive change to record keeping practice In Scotland. Those changes help safeguard people's rights, particularly for some of the most vulnerable in our society, as well as securing our wider collective memory.

Records are crucial for many reasons. They assure accountability, openness, justice, equality and help guarantee our rights as citizens. Effectively, records help protect democracy.

Purpose of the Act

The Scottish Government regards effective records management as key to ensuring that the public have confidence that public authorities are operating as efficiently and openly as possible.

Good records management helps support those aims and the infrastructure of a modern Scottish state. It is a powerful mechanism for improvement and efficiency and central to ensuring compliance with other legislative responsibilities such as those under Freedom of Information and Data Protection legislation. The freedom of information process relies on effective records management. No records and there can be no information.

The Act requires individual named Scottish authorities to prepare a records management plan and agreed by the Keeper of the Records of Scotland – in charge of our National Records of Scotland. 132 plans have been agreed. Once agreed that does not mean we stand still. Authorities must keep their plans under review and ensure they remain fit for purpose. The Keeper reports annually to Scottish Ministers and to Parliament on progress made under the Act.

Scottish Government does not seek to impose solutions on authorities. Collaboration is key and the critical work under the Act is being pursued collaboratively with the Keeper's staff and authorities. Such joint working cements relationships, helps build trust across the wider records community.

The Act has been in operation for four years. The challenges ahead include the need to address the growing digital agenda and the wider transformation of public services. Important to set standards to improve transparency, efficiency, engagement and competence. The Act plays a major role in helping support that. It's about trust, collaboration, joint working and seeking to improve over time. Records management is getting better in Scotland, but we must sustain it over the longer term. We continue to review our processes to deliver further future successes. By setting authorities clear records management objectives the Act provides an impetus for change and collaboration.


Success cannot be measured in the short term. It needs to be assessed over a much longer period. Through a process of continuous assessment and improvement that will help bring about lasting change. The Act has created a momentum which is building that success. Not overnight, for that is often too short lived. Rather, ensuring that good records management is embedded within the culture of authorities and remains relevant, with a much higher profile than it ever had before.

Ultimately it's about ensuring we build something that will last. Securing improvement for the future and that future generations don't experience the frustrations of the past. Setting firm foundations for a much better system of record keeping for wider public benefit.

The legislation is delivering change and thereby helping safeguard the rights of Scottish citizens, particularly the vulnerable. It is changing our records landscape for the better.

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