Open Government Partnership Steering Group minutes: September 2022

Minutes from the group's meeting on 7 September 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Lucy McTernan, Chair of Civil Society Network (chair)
  • Mr Adam, Minister for Parliamentary Business 


  • Jennie Barugh, Director of Performance and Strategic Outcomes (apologies)
  • Andy Bruce, Director of Communications and Ministerial Support
  • Niall Davidson, Change and Stakeholder Engagement Lead
  • Doreen Grove, Head of Open Government
  • Geoff Huggins, Director Digital
  • Catriona Laing, Deputy Director for Domestic Climate Change
  • Suzi Macpherson, Person Centred Design Policy Lead
  • Mary McAllan, Director of Covid Recovery and Public Service Reform (apologies, Catriona Maclean deputising)
  • Shona Nicol, Team Leader, Data Standards
  • Jane O’Donnell, Deputy Director, Third Sector, Community Empowerment & Open Government Division
  • Linda Pollock, Interim Director, Healthcare Quality and Improvement (apologies, Lynne Nicol deputising)

Civil society

  • Annie Cook, Democratic Society
  • Jack Lord, Open Data Services Co-operative
  • Susan Paxton, Scottish Community Development Centre
  • Alex Stobart, MyDex CIC (apologies)
  • Juliet Swann, Involve

Steering Group Secretariat

  • Neisha Kirk, Open Government participation policy officer


  • Simon Cameron, Chief Officer - Employers' Team, COSLA
  • Daren Fitzhenry, Scottish Information Commissioner
  • Louise Meikleham, Senior data policy officer
  • Pamela Rennie, Strategic Policy and Planning, Chief Executive’s Department, Glasgow City Council

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Lucy McTernan welcomed members, including new members to the meeting and acknowledged this was the first hybrid meeting for the group.

Apologies were noted and taken as read.

It was made aware to new members that this is a joint partnership meeting, with civil society members and government members equal partners.  Attendees should always feel welcome to raise any points or suggestions they may have, and the group will creatively take on board or work to progress any comments raised.

Action plan commitment progress update – exception reporting

Lucy McTernan reminded members that it was agreed at the previous steering group as a modus operandi that action plan commitment progress would now be captured by commitment leads reporting into a template. This template was circulated ahead of the meeting with members.

Each commitment was welcomed to proceed to provide a short update relating to any highlights, headlines, exceptions or challenges that were detailed in their report.


Shona Nicol updated that the commitment was making progress, with all milestones being worked on. Particular areas where progress was noted was on the CivTech challenge, which is looking at how to make it easier for the public to find public service data. A working version of this is expected to be available at the end of November. The first cohort of the Data Maturity and Pathways Programme (DMPP) was also noted to have been completed, which saw seven public sector organisations put through data maturity assessments to understand what kind of things were impacting the way the organisations were valuing their data. A second cohort is currently underway, and includes ten public sector organisations.

There has been slower progress on meeting with other commitment leads. The data standards and open data community of practice milestone is now making further progress due to staff now being in place.

Jack Lord, the civil cociety lead for this commitment, agreed the slower area for the commitment was connecting with other commitment themes. It was acknowledged the first milestone (‘Open up data relevant to other open government themes’) is the most ambitious and challenging area for the commitment, but is something to work on collectively.

Jane O’Donnell queried what spread of public sector organisations are on the second cohort. Shona Nicol confirmed the cohort has four local authorities, the Improvement Service and five organisations from central government.


Doreen Grove updated the commitment has made progress, with the first milestone in the commitment to deliver the Institutionalisation of Participative and Deliberative Democracy (IPDD) working group complete. Work is now currently underway to respond to the IPDD working group report. The commitment is also working closely with the digital engagement team to build virtual capacity to ensure participation is improved across Scottish Government. This work is looking at how to ensure the public are able to be better involved in decision making.

The theme’s working group has now been re-instated and will meet regularly. It was highlighted the participation commitment is similar to the digital and data commitment in that it is an enabling commitment, and will continue to help the other commitments as well as broaden the idea of what open government can do in helping ways of working change across government.

Annie Cook, the civil society lead for this commitment, updated that a networking stakeholder workshop ran in April, which considered who needs to be involved in a human rights focused participation framework.

Juliet Swann, also a civil society lead for this commitment, echoed Annie Cook’s contribution, highlighting this reflects the commitment’s overarching aim to be more intersectional. Juliet also agreed with Jack Lord’s comments, noting from the reporting template that the overlap across commitments were visible, and collaboration would be helpful. This collaborative approach is anticipated to also help the commitment take an intersectional approach, and understand how the commitment can best reach civil society groups (to bring them in and better understand open government) and to progress the participation aspect also.

Lucy McTernan raised a question from the civil society committee which took place earlier in the week around the Participation Framework. It was queried where the Participation Framework sits, and how widely it is being deployed or used yet.

Doreen Grove confirmed work is underway to feed in Talat Yacoob’s recommendations from her rapid report, and the Equalities Mainstreaming team in Scottish Government are involved in the updating of the Participation Framework. Work is also planned to alter the design of the framework to ensure it is more accessible and user friendly. The next participation commitment meeting will look at how to move this forward. Doreen also made aware the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are looking to publish the framework.

Action: Lucy McTernan suggested at the next steering group meeting for the group to be taken through the Participation Framework and to make sure members are champions going forward.

Climate change

As a new member, Catriona Laing gave a short introduction to the group. The group was then updated that the commitment is to launch a stakeholder network in the autumn and this activity is on track. The technical platform to host the network is currently amber and a business case will be drawn up.

Catriona Laing confirmed they were also interested in conversations that had occurred earlier around connecting themes, highlighting the commitment is about making sure the network gets the right input on the Just Transition from a wide range of communities.

Lucy McTernan suggested the outputs from the consultation and network building should be connected to the wider open government system so to properly reach out to civil society. It was further highlighted civil society will be recruiting to its central committee, and would be keen to hear from individuals in this area. Catriona Laing confirmed to take this back to the team.

Alex Stobart, the civil society lead for this commitment, sent their apologies.

Financial transparency

Niall Davidson updated that all milestones are on schedule to be delivered across the commitment, and was also interested in conversations into connecting with other commitments. It was highlighted there is a clear link with the data commitment around transparency of fiscal data and information, and that data colleagues had been contacted in order to bring those leading on the fiscal transparency programme together. The commitment’s working group meets quarterly, and it is the aim for commitment leads to be invited to these meetings. In November, the group is going to carry out a deep dive into the fiscal transparency programme, and would like to get data and digital colleagues to have a session which looks into connections alongside specific work. There are also clear links with participation as there is an aim within the commitment around engagement and participation related to public finances. Participation colleagues will be contacted to think about ways to progress this.

Lucy McTernan, the civil society lead for this commitment, confirmed the commitment is making good progress, and was pleased with the spread of civil society colleagues engagement, recognising individuals from civil society are bringing something new and stretching to the work. One drawback that was identified was that the work has not been widely promoted, and this is something to be considered in the wider communications around the commitment.

Doreen Grove updated as part of exception reporting that the National Performance Framework commitment is planning to be moved to the participation commitment.

Health and social care

Susan Paxton, the civil society lead for this commitment, confirmed the co-design team is in place from Scottish Government and the focus is now on developing the membership and rolling remit of the working group. Susan similarly recognised a strong connection with other themes, particularly participation, and as part of developing the remit of the group confirmed the commitment will be reaching out to participation colleagues.

Suzi MacPherson shared that the commitment is making rapid progress, but highlighted as the commitment is new and evolving they are now looking at what milestones might look like in year two, particularly around measuring the co-design progress and what the role of the working group is.

Lucy McTernan echoed the same message around connecting the commitment to the wider open government system, and that there are opportunities over the next few weeks to join the central committee.

Doreen Grove closed by querying if a new Vice President has been appointed for COSLA. Simon Cameron confirmed the new vice president is Councillor Steven Heddle.

IRM update

The appointment of Andrew McDevitt as the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) is due to be finalised in the next few weeks. Doreen Grove will make members formally aware once this appointment is made. The first action of the IRM will be to evaluate the development of the current plan.

Lucy McTernan raised that the financial transparency commitment was keen to work with IRM to make sure there are specific actions related to the monitoring ability of the commitment from the beginning, and believed the other commitments would be interested in this too. Doreen Grove agreed.

Action: Open Government team to set up meeting between IRM and Lucy McTernan and Minister for Parliamentary Business once in post.

Articles of governance – draft update

A draft of the refreshed articles of governance were circulated to attendees in advance. Doreen Grove confirmed the draft included only minor updates. The group was made aware if they had any comments to feedback to the Open Government team. Members were also welcomed to feedback if they felt a larger refresh was required.

Lucy McTernan queried if one of the future steering group dates which had been circulated to members could be in person, and extended to allow for a more discursive session. Doreen Grove agreed.

Action: Open Government team to plan which open government steering group date will be used for a discursive session.

Open Government in Scotland in our current context

Members were taken through a set of slides looking at how Open Government can be progressed. The principles and purpose of open government were revisited, with attendees then asked to look forward in terms of how to go beyond commitments within the action plan, and how to strengthen democracy. Doreen Grove covered what the OECD have deemed the ‘new frontiers’ of open government which include open states, open strategies, open government indicators and civic spaces. Doreen confirmed to be looking to pursue an open government strategy over this parliament to strengthen the national action plan.

Members were called upon to be thoughtful on how open government is proceeding in Scotland in light of the above, alongside current fiscal pressures, and to think about what an open government strategy could look like (including a shared vision and objectives). Members were asked to reflect on the presentation and to build this thinking into their individual commitments as the presentation outlined good foundations for planning the next stage of open government in Scotland.

Open Government Partnership (OGP) UK nations update

Members were referred to an article by Kevin Keith, the civil society co-chair of the UK Steering Group, for an update on the UK position. At present, one Government co-chair role is not filled. Northern Ireland was noted to be making progress, and Wales was acknowledged to be intent on becoming a sub national member of OGP. Scotland was noted to have initiated a regular catch up with OGP UK nations, with the bi-monthly meeting aiming to ensure UK nation members can provide more regular updates alongside support and advice to one another regarding open government activity, including across civil society.

OGP regional meeting in Rome

The next opportunity for international learning from OGP members will be in Rome. It was confirmed Scottish Government are hopeful that Mr Harvie, Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights, will be in attendance at the event in October.

Any other closing business

No closing comments were noted from the group.

Next steps

The next meeting of the Open Government Steering Group will take place Thursday 24th November 2022. Any non-members wishing to attend this meeting as observers should contact the secretariat (

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