A welcome from the co-chairs of the Open Government Steering Group
(Please note: Plain English Campaign’s Crystal Mark does not apply to the foreword)
Government Chair of the Open Government Steering Group, Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations, Michael Russell
I believe that opening up government is about strengthening democracy and putting people at the centre of our policies to create a Scotland that works for everyone. We should be more responsive, inclusive and accessible to the people we serve.
Openness is a core value of the refreshed National Performance Framework, and I see our involvement in Open Government as one way of achieving transformative change in how we govern. We joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in 2016 because we share the values of openness, transparency and accountability with the 90+ governments and their civil society partners around the world who are members of OGP.
I am pleased to publish the second Scottish Open Government Action Plan, co-created in partnership with the Open Government Network and with people across Scotland. I am proud of the innovative and ambitious commitments within this plan. Creating this in a collaborative way, and in the spirit and culture of open government, marks a change in how we work.
This Action Plan builds on the foundations of transparency and partnership that we have in Scotland. We are proactively publishing more information than ever before. With our first Action Plan in 2017, we built constructive relationships with an active Open Government civil society Network, and very much welcomed the involvement of local government and COSLA. Our Second Action Plan continues this work with both partners and is the next step in our journey of having truly open government in Scotland. We recognise that Local Authorities are the key sphere of government working directly with communities. Therefore, having COSLA as a partner is vital if we are to deliver the plan meaningfully and effectively.
This document sets out our ambitions for creating a culture of open government. The Action Plan features commitments on financial transparency and improving the way people can understand, participate in and influence the government’s work. An important feature of this plan is an explicit commitment to ensure people in Scotland are properly informed as the UK negotiates the exit from the EU.
Partnership is key to all of this. We will continue to work collaboratively and openly in the delivery of this Action Plan, working closely with civil society, our partners in the Open Government Network and COSLA. My aim to create a more open government is explicit in this Action Plan which sets out a clear map for achieving transformational change.
Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations
Member of the Open Government Partnership International Steering Committee
Civil Society Chair of the Open Government Steering Group, and member of the Open Government Partnership International Steering Committee, Lucy McTernan
On behalf of the civil society Open Government Network I welcome this second Action Plan. Having been involved for many years in Scotland’s journey to be an open government, I was pleased to see significant changes in behaviour and approach to producing this Action Plan over the last year. We appreciate the work that’s been done to get us to this stage. We know it’s hard to disrupt set processes and cultures and it’s worth recognising that open government is breaking new ground. This is important and we must continue to try for this work to have a real and tangible impact on people’s lives.
We are pleased to be publishing the Action Plan and while it doesn’t contain everything we called for, it does have some solid and very practical proposals to make government more open. It encourages civil society organisations and activists to think and act differently too, and we want to continue exploring this over the duration of the Action Plan.
We also welcome local government’s involvement and COSLA’s representation on the Steering Group as a key partner with civil society at the local level. We have been working for some time to improve the spread of open government approaches, and this follows our ambition of getting closer to people and the decisions that directly affect their lives.
Looking forward, we will welcome increased political and senior drive within government for the kinds of approaches we are championing. We hope this new way of working will lead to more direct engagement of civil society colleagues working with policy leads across the board. We are keen to broaden the Open Government Network and involve more people. We take seriously the role of movement building in the wider community, which involves reaching out and communicating our progress and the opportunities presented by these new ways of working for people to bring about change. We consider that access to data, increased dialogue, open policy-making and citizen participation to be real opportunities for progress towards social justice. In the first action plan we consciously linked open government with Scotland’s contribution to the sustainable development goals, and see this framing all our work going forward.
We recognise that the achievement is not in publishing the plan alone. Important though our new approach has been, the most rewarding and important part will be in seeing the Action Plan being implemented and influencing behaviours and attitudes beyond the specific actions.
Email: Niamh Webster