Open Government Partnership Reporting Mechanism Working Group minutes: October 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 19 October 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 attendance. Attendees introduced themselves, and all confirmed that they were happy to take part in the group as a member.

Group purpose and terms of reference

The group reviewed and approved the draft Terms of Reference (Paper 1). Confirmation was sought and given on whether the Information Commissioner’s Office would be assuming a leading role around drafting the group’s final report.

Overarching goals and priorities for measurement model

The chair opened the floor for discussion around what the group considered to be the overarching goals and priorities for the measurement model used in the reporting mechanism.

The group suggested that a key question in identifying priorities for measurement was to identify the primary purpose of the report. Benchmarking against the international OGP community requires a sufficient level of similarity to the current IRM process to allow read-across between the two reporting systems. However, if the report’s primary purpose is to provide a means by which Scotland’s progress can be tracked over time, a different set of measures might be most appropriate. 

The group concluded that the reporting mechanism should provide both functions, necessitating a kind of “two tier” report structure; one for international benchmarking, and one for measuring Scotland’s progress against its individual long-term ambitions and goals. This will require distilling the current IRM report to identify the key measures required to allow comparison between countries, as well as identifying ways to measure Scotland’s individual progress.

It was suggested that the latter task required a decision on whether the reporting mechanism would primarily focus on outputs, outcomes or impact. The current IRM reporting mechanism appears to focus primarily on outputs and short-term outcomes, with limited scope for acknowledging potential longer term impacts. The group concluded that ideally, a Scottish reporting mechanism would place more emphasis on outcomes and particularly on the potential for long-term meaningful impacts from a commitment. To realise this ambition, the group identified a need for greater clarity in the way commitments are drafted within the Action Plan. This should include specific, measurable milestones which will be achieved throughout the duration of the plan, alongside clear articulation of the long-term ambitions to which commitments seek to contribute. This should also allow reporters make a judgement as to whether the outputs achieved demonstrate progress in the “right direction” towards the longer-term impact desired.

Commitments could also helpfully link into National Performance Framework outcomes where possible, and to the Sustainable Development Goals. These are areas where indicators of progress are already measured and reported on. Additionally, group members suggested looking towards the Scottish Social Attitudes survey as a potential source of useful indicators across a longer timeframe.

The potential for including more direct scrutiny from members of the public in the reporting mechanism was discussed, with members enthusiastic about the potential offered by citizens’ and participatory audits. It was also suggested that a trial of this method might be undertaken during the current plan.

There was also some discussion around who the “target audience” should be for the reporting mechanism, as this might have a significant impact on its structure and how measures are presented – however no conclusions were reached and the topic was left for another meeting.

Outline skeleton report structure

The group approved the skeleton report structure, with the addition of a section outlining timelines for reporting throughout the four year Action Plan implementation period.

Actions/next steps

Doreen Grove agreed to work with Lucy McTernan and relevant IRM colleagues to produce a plain English description of the current IRM process, the rationale behind it, and current thinking around its future. Doreen also committed to talk to Andy McDevitt as the current reporter for Scotland for the IRM about strengths and weaknesses of the IRM approach.

Jillian Matthew undertook to consider possible measures which could assist with measuring the strategic, longer term impacts of commitments, taking account of learning from other pieces of work within Scotland and from international OGP examples.

Kelly McBride agreed to lead a piece of work, with support from Alex Stobart and Saskia Kearns, exploring how citizen involvement could be brought into the reporting mechanism, looking at examples from anti-corruption work and how these methods could be adapted for use in this space. 

Date of next meeting

It was agreed that the group would look to meet again in mid November, with the exact date to be confirmed by correspondence over the following week. 

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