Open Government Partnership Reporting Mechanism Working Group minutes: November 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 12 November 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • Daren Fitzhenry (Chair), Scottish Information Commissioner
  • Madeleine Fleming (Secretariat), Open Government, Scottish Government
  • Erin Gray, Head of Policy and Information, Scottish Information Commissioner
  • Doreen Grove, Head of Open Government, Scottish Government
  • Saskia Kearns, OGP Commitment 4 Lead, Scottish Government
  • Jillian Matthew, Performance Audit & Best Value, Audit Scotland
  • Kelly McBride, Director Scotland, Democratic Society
  • Alex Stobart, Director Scotland, MyDex CIC

Items and actions


The chair welcomed the group, and thanked them for their contributions to the work of the group so far, stating that there was a lot still to discuss in this meeting.

Minutes and actions

There were no further comments on minutes, with actions from the previous meeting covered in Item 3.

Updates on progress/findings/contributions to date:

Current IRM process description

Lucy McTernan is working on writing up the current IRM process, with input from Doreen where appropriate. It will be important to link the current process to the Scottish context – including the existing accountability and reporting mechanisms in relation to the National Performance Framework


  • Madeleine to contribute a paragraph to report on the NPF

Andy McDevitt and IRM contact input re strengths/weaknesses or current model and expectations re future

We are looking to set up a meeting with IRM towards end of November. The purpose of this meeting will be to share and explore our ideas with them to get the IRM perspective on our direction, on what might be interesting strands to follow up, what might cause issues with international comparators etc. Will explore potential dates for that at the end of this meeting, with the intention that as many members can attend as is practical.

Strategic impact measurement approaches and alternative models

Jillian updated on the findings from her work so far, with discussion covering a number of topics, summarised below:

  • as discussed at the first meeting of this group, we are keen to look at the long term picture, and link to outcomes – which is something Audit Scotland have been encouraging more generally. However, it has been challenging to find information on the websites of other countries who are taking this approach giving details about their approaches
  • it’s clear that attribution is a challenge when it comes to thinking about measuring longer term impact. However, this could be mitigated through careful wording, or acknowledging this challenge as indicators are set etc – for example “a contributed to b” as opposed to “a led to b”
  • as all action plans are different, and within that, all commitments are different, there can be no magic bullet or off the shelf approach which works for all circumstances. One option would be to take a tiered approach, asking whether the outcome has been completed, what its potential impact is, and what that means for outcomes (including national outcomes and SDGs). Jillian indicated that there are more conversations to be had with Audit Scotland colleagues around this (particularly around financial sustainability) and likely lessons to be learned by looking at OECD Public Integrity Maturity Models
  • the group noted that the current national action plan will be assessed under current IRM system. They also recognised that thinking at this point about the Reporting Mechanism is really helpful for thinking about how we frame the next plan
  • there has already been clearly identified a need to include clear and measurable milestones within commitments to really stretch ourselves and be reportable. Commitments must clearly state what the desired short and long term outcomes are. This must also take into account what is practical and feasible, in line with available resources
  • additionally, discussion has highlighted the value of linking commitments to assessments already happening - eg SDG network, NPF reporting. We should look to make best use of existing assessments and measurements
  • it will also be important, when setting out commitments, to include clear differentiation between outcomes that are in the sphere of control, and those further out in spheres of influence
  • finally, the group returned to acknowledge the importance that independence is retained in the reporting mechanism, even as it ties into other Scottish Government reporting

Remaining information-gathering required to complete report and prepare options

Erin gave a summary of the current position of the report from her perspective, identifying key areas where options need to be developed:

  • who carries out the reporting 
  • reporting timings
  • report structure
  • what we want to report on - this is the key question

Erin also drew the groups attention to the current IRM, looking at what it reports on and whether it should all be retained. The group highlighted that while thinking about this it’s important to bear in mind that we do want to retain comparability to other states - therefore can't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Discussion covered:

  • verifiability – it must be possible to assess commitments. However, it isn't very helpful to assess a commitment as unverifiable 4 years down the line - is there a role for having an initial design report before the commitments are signed off? Having milestones set out within commitments (as previously discussed) should already introduce a measure of verifiability
  • relevance – commitments must be relevant to OGP values. This criteria feels important for comparability
  • potential impact - very important, and need to be clear when setting out the commitment what the expected impact is
  • completion - ties into verifiability, can we see that this has been delivered
  • did it open Government? - important to recognise wider impact, as discussed earlier in this meeting

IRM input meeting and issues to discuss

Members agreed that meeting with representatives from the IRM would provide a helpful forum to discuss the group’s current thinking, explore what the IRM believes to be the particularly strong points of the current reporting mechanism, and confirm what (if any) the role of IRM will be in future local reporting.

Actions/next steps


  • Madeleine to contribute a paragraph to report on the NPF
  • group members to continue work on their research/information gathering
  • members to aim to provide a draft of their sections to Erin as early as they can
  • Madeleine to set up a page for the group on to publish remit and papers

Next steps:

  • Erin to consult on dates for IRM meeting, following which secretariat to arrange meeting

Date of next meeting

To be arranged by correspondence.

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