Scotland’s Open Government action plan 2021 to 2025: milestones

Milestones throughout Scotland's Open Government Action plan for 2021 to 2025.

This document is part of a collection

The first milestones are initial and these will be updated throughout the course of the action plan, so please periodically check to see how work is developing.

Fiscal openness and transparency commitment: initial milestones

This commitment will be developed through an iterative process – we have set out initial activity. We will up-date milestones each year, to reflect on progress and focus on opportunities for further development.

In 2022 we intend to achieve the following activities, listed under the commitment themes: 

Benchmark progress on fiscal openness and transparency

  • review other approaches/international best practice to assess our progress on fiscal openness and transparency

Improve the accessibility of fiscal information

  • establish a programme to take forward recommendations of the Fiscal Transparency Discovery Report. In 2022 we will review existing data to improve structuring, standardisation and data visualisation in the development of a fiscal portal pilot. We will involve stakeholders and engage with a range of users who use fiscal information to inform the development of this work
  • establish a procurement management information platform, to delivering improvements to reporting and analytical capability
  • review the accessibility and usability of information and guidance produced for the 2022-23 Autumn Budget Revision and ‘Your Scotland, Your Finances’ publication. Over the period of the Action Plan, we will continue to involve a range of stakeholders through our ongoing work on budget improvement

Improve engagement and participation

  • review best practice approaches to public engagement to support the development of the next Infrastructure Investment Plan. Including a multi-stakeholder approach to developing the infrastructure Needs Assessment
  • publish a Framework for Tax, informed by wide ranging engagement, to provide a foundation on which tax policy work in Scotland is based
  • develop with stakeholders an animated video campaign to explain Scotland’s devolved tax powers and the link between taxation and public spending

Use best practice approaches to support high quality engagement and participation, while undertaking work to review the National Outcomes.

Health and social care commitment: initial milestones

To identify the necessary skills and experience required by a person centred design team to drive forward our action plan. Recruit, induct and train the above individuals


  • hire and on-board a person centred design team (start: Aug. ’21 – end: Jan. ’22)
  • develop the programme plan to ensure that the person centred user design work is built into the programme management structure of all work around the re-design and remobilisation of service post-pandemic (start: Aug. ’21 – end: Feb ’22)

To ensure that we deliver a high quality programme of work that embeds person centred user-design, and that ensures we are held accountable to the commitment made we will invite civil society to work with us through the stages of the action plan’s implementation


  • to establish a civil society group to work with Scottish Government officials over the period of the action plan to review work that is undertaken, feedback on progress and ensure actions are progressed as intended (winter 2021/22). We will work with partners to agree the group’s terms of reference and continue to keep the group up to date on developments and changes as the design work taking place across the Health and Social Care Programmes progresses
  • review relevant good practice that has already been undertaken on this subject to learn lessons from existing and previous work

To develop a programme of work that systematically embeds good practice and the principles of co-design across the re-design of services and work, to support recovery from the pandemic in health and social care. The Principles of co-design that will guide service design across health and care service work are as follows.

Principles that will guide our action in this work (to be set as milestone once work in underway):

  • we listen to what people have told us is the problem before we start designing a solution
  • we design service journeys around people and not around how our health and care services are currently set-up
  • we understand that people may enter at any stage of the journey and move between different services – and so we commit to coherence and consistency across our work
  • we use inclusive and accessible design methods to allow people to participate fully and meaningfully
  • health and care services should be co-designed with those who rely on them and those who deliver them. Health and care services will put the needs, rights and preferences of those who use the services at the heart of their decision making
  • the work will focus on services being re-designed or strands of work related to recovery from the pandemic with the wider public sector, to ensure we are driving towards whole services that make sense to people and solve whole problems for them

To ensure future work can be progressed more widely, we will draw out learnings both in health and social care and across wider Scottish Government


  • test and embed good practice in a local or small scale environment to test the developed approach on a different scale

Review and apply changes to our work as it progresses based on learning and feedback

Data and digital committment: initial milestones

This will be an iterative process.  As such, we have set out our plans for the first year, covering 2022. 

In 2022, we intend to achieve the following activities, listed under the enabling themes: 


  • make initial steps with CivTech challenge on finding data.  We plan to engage with civil society around findability of data as part of this challenge
  • pilot Data Maturity Pathways project which will  guide six public sector organisations through an end to end journey which:
    • defines their objectives for data in line with their business strategy and priorities
    • builds better understanding of the components required for maturity pathways for the DTF

User needs

  • user research to inform user journeys on - and agree next steps on improvements for  
  • agree and establish communications channels and understand user needs. This includes setting up the Data Standards and Open Data Community of Practice
  • make initial steps on CivTech challenge on what data people are looking for through the finding public sector data challenge

Identify and share use cases

  • identify thematic areas – such climate change and public transport and financial transparency
  • we plan to take an initial focus on greenhouse gas emissions datasets and commit to make more of these data and modelling available in an open and reusable format. We will review regularly with Civil Society progress and scope

Longer term activities (4 year plan, to December 2025)

As this will be an iterative process, we have only been specific for Year 1 of the plan.   We would instead wish to review and develop further after year 1 of the plan, when we have a better sense of progress and the direction of travel. 

Activities we will definitely be participating in in Year 2 and beyond include: 

  • development of AI algorithmic register
  • further development of Data Transformation Framework
  • further development of positive collaborations with others such as CoSLA (Local authority data taskforce) and the Data and Intelligence Network to build the culture of open and transparent use of data

Climate change commitment: initial milestones

September 2021 to August 2025

Core group development and activity from Autumn 2021 – Spring 2022

  • stakeholder mapping
  • establishment of core group
  • co-creation of action plan, including activities, targets and key milestones

Running and management of network Spring 2022 – Autumn 2025

  • establishment of wider network
  • gathering network input during key milestones
  • reporting back to the network

Overall management and co-ordination of the network

Participation commitment: initial milestones

Participation framework: developing knowledge and skills across SG (beginning autumn 2021)

Scotland’s previous Action Plan produced a Participation Framework (PF), which now needs to be rolled out for use across and beyond Scottish Government. Successful use of the PF will require knowledge and skills, alongside recognition of the importance of participation. Training is required to achieve this. 


  • develop general participation training for use with key sets of policy officials in SG, which has a focus on equalities mainstreaming, intersectional analysis and competent participation
  • deliver participation training for key groups of policy officials within Scottish Government
  • evaluate and reflect on training and subsequent participation activity, to develop more tailored training for use across SG

In parallel, work with Open Government Network for Participation (below) to explore and develop options for training and/or roll out of PF for civil society.

Participation Framework: embedding equalities and an inclusive approach (beginning autumn 2021)

Scotland’s previous Action Plan produced a Participation Framework (PF). A commissioned third sector review of the PF identified a number of changes needed to ensure that the PF enables inclusive participation that has equalities as a core focus.


  • update PF to include:
    • an Equalities and Participation statement, explaining why participation is an equalities and human rights issue, and what our responsibilities are. This will include an update to the existing one page framework diagram, where there is currently no mention of equality or ‘who’ is being engaged
    • further information needs to be provided on exclusionary practice (e.g. funds to travel, digital exclusion) and actions to mitigate this
  • collaboratively develop a set of guidance on achieving representative samples of society, including going beyond known people and networks – this should focus on those furthest away from power, opportunity and wealth. This will happen in stages:
    • in the shorter term, develop options for more diverse ‘mini publics’ and engagement via specialist outreach groups, to ensure inclusion of people furthest away, and those who are not already included in SG data sets
    • in the longer term, work with SG analysts to adapt SG data sets, making these as inclusive and intersectional as possible. This can link in with the Equalities Data Improvement Programme (EDIP)
  • in the longer term, develop and propose options for a central unit, the remit for which can include considering ways to support community capacity building needed to ensure successful and equitable participation. This can link in with the Open Government Network for Participation (below)
  • collaboratively develop consistent and systematic monitoring and evaluation that will be embedded into participation delivery. This can form a key part of a framework that holds policy areas to account for how participation is happening, including multiple named contacts with dedicated responsibility for participation and regular Ministerial updates
  • as above, design and roll out a programme of PF training to build capacity on equalities mainstreaming, intersectional analysis and competent participation
  • collaboratively consider ways to more explicitly align participation with equalities and human rights:
    • frame communications and guidance in this way
    • develop routes to normalise a view of implementing participation as part of upholding equalities and human rights commitments

Institutionalising Participation and Deliberative Democracy working group: reporting and beginning processes of change to make participation routine and effective (autumn 2021 onwards)

We have set up an Institutionalising Participation and Deliberative Democracy that brings together experts from Scotland, UK and international organisations.

 In autumn 2021, this Working Group will report its recommendations on how we can make participation routine and effective. These will include:

  • defining the principles, standards and aims of using participatory processes including (but not limited to) Citizens’ Assemblies
  • identifying methods of governance for delivering credible and trustworthy participatory democratic processes
  • setting out options and an indication of the resources necessary to establish and deliver these routinely and sustainably

The recommendations will be taken forward by a range of stakeholders, including the Open Government team. We will prepare milestones to measure progress towards these recommendations on the publication of the working group’s report.

Embedding Open Government principles in the planning, conduct and outputs of annual Citizens’ Assemblies (from December 2021)

  • set out how SG will implement the outcomes of the Expert Working Group on Institutionalising Participatory and Deliberative Democracy
  • establish cross-portfolio working to support the delivery of deliberative democratic processes
  • support the delivery of annual Citizens’ Assemblies from 2022 to meet the values and principles set out by the Expert Working Group on Institutionalising Participatory and Deliberative Democracy

Developing an active and inclusive Open Government Network for Participation (2022 onwards)

Developing grassroots participation is an essential component of creating a culture of inclusive participation. This will be a long-term process. A key step in this is developing and maintaining an active Open Government Network for Participation, building capacity and engagement across civil society.


  • establish Network: scope in collaboration with civil society, develop terms of reference (January 2022)
  • engage Network as a key route to make the Participation Framework publicly useable and useful (February 2022)
  • consider how the Network can be supported to engage with and provide shared learning and training opportunities for Ministers and government officials, and civil society. This will include reflecting on the role that civil society has and could have in taking better and fairer decisions and inclusively developing policy that meets a wide range of needs (2022 onwards)

Review of consultations - spend, approach, monitoring (autumn 2022)

While consultations are an important tool and are currently the default method of seeking public views, they are not effective or inclusive for many parts of our society.  This project will put in place training to ensure that public servants understand the value of consultations in the context of other methods of participation.

The specific milestone deliverables over this period will be set out at each of the twice yearly reviews.

Monitoring the completion of local authorities delivery of 1% of budgets through participatory budgeting (from autumn 2021)

Scottish Local Authorities and the Scottish Government agreed a framework whereby at least 1% of local government budgets will be subject to Participatory Budgeting.  This establishes a shared expectation that together with elected members, officers, civil society and local communities we use Participatory Budgeting to go beyond current arrangements for consultation and engagement.

Originally agreed to be met by March 2021, the timeline has been revised to recognise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic upon local government, people, and communities. There is a degree of flexibility available to councils as to when they can practicably meet it, and they will initially report in August 2021.

Implementation of the National Participatory Budgeting Strategic Group’s framework for the future of participatory budgeting and embedding open government principles (September 2021)

Established in September 2020 with an initial focus on establishing an overall framework for Participatory Budgeting over the lifetime of the following Scottish Parliament, the group deliberated on shared ambition, intentions and priority areas for development where there is energy and enthusiasm for the differences Participatory Budgeting can make. This resulted in a Framework for the Future of Participatory Budgeting in Scotland produced in July 2021.

The Framework establishes areas of priority where there is significant potential for a contribution from PB. These are education, health and wellbeing, housing and tackling climate change with our communities.

As milestones, this will be set out in Autumn 2021.

Embedding Open Government principles in Just Transition participatory budgets

We will implement Green Participatory Budgeting with agreed target levels of funding. 


  • we will explore the use of Participatory Budgeting in 2021‑22 as part of our wider support for community‑led climate action
  • we will identify opportunities at COP26 to develop the concept of Participatory Budgeting for climate action – both in Scotland and abroad – and identify opportunities to develop programmes specifically involving schools and young people
  • we will work with local authorities to embed climate principles into wider participatory budgeting initiatives, building on the agreement between the Scottish Government and COSLA that at least 1% of council budgets will be subject to Participatory Budgeting by 2021‑22

Embedding Open Government principles in the Community Empowerment Act parliamentary review (2023)

By 2023, there is a requirement for the Community Empowerment Act to be reviewed. This will provide an opportunity for participation, and the application of Open Government principles of accountability and transparency.

We will develop actions and milestones when possible.

Embedding Open Government principles in the National Performance Framework refresh (2023)

The Open Government team will work with SG teams responsible for the National Performance Framework (NPF) refresh, which is to take place during this Parliament, to deliver this using Open Government principles in spirit and in practice.


  • early engagement and input into NPF refresh planning by Open Government team, ensuring awareness and understanding of Open Government principles
  • inclusive discussions and agreements about the practical applications of these principles to the NPF i.e. what would an NPF that is transparent, accountable and participatory look like?
  • collaborative development across NPF refresh process of a set of outcomes and indicators that are transparent, accountable and have been influenced by participatory processes

Embedding participation as a core skill in centre of expertise (new name TBC) (October 2021 to December 2021)

We will work to develop a way of bringing together expertise to deliver priority reform projects. This will include embedding an equalities-focused approach to the Participation Framework across ways of working and addressing reform priorities.

We will develop actions and milestones when possible.

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