Improving access to accountability of public services - engagement: final report

Final report and recommendations from commitment 4 of the Open Government National Action Plan: improving peoples’ access to accountability of public services. This work identified common journeys and barriers to accessing accountability in Scotland.

Public Engagement Methodology - Project Activities


Eight one-to-one interviews were conducted with residents from around Scotland. Over the phone or in person, their experiences of accountability were collaboratively mapped. The interviews focused on identifying typical journeys through accountability, common barriers and motivators for accessing accountability, and examples of best practice.

Inclusivity gatherings

To fill inclusivity gaps, three small discussion groups were hosted with targeted audiences, for example those seeking asylum or refuge, and additional support. This reached eight people and allowed us to understand anomalies in the research and barriers for those with specific needs.

National events

National events were hosted in five locations across Scotland, involving over 70 citizens. In each location, two events were organised and, where participation was low, researchers conducted ad hoc conversations with local residents. Journeys through accountability and common barriers were translated into opportunities for solutions. Examples of best practice were validated and developed, and these formed a basic definition of accountability as defined by the public (see Appendix 1).

Stakeholder event: public sector representatives

An online stakeholder event was hosted with 20 decision-makers from public sector organisations, bodies and services. Common user journeys, barriers and motivators for accessing accountability were presented and discussed. Centred around the individual stages of common user journeys, this event asked participants to collaboratively build a 'behind the scenes' narrative from the service delivery perspective. This helped to identify service delivery barriers and constraints for supporting access to accountability.

Stakeholder event: solutions development

This online event brought together 18 representatives from scrutiny bodies, public and third sector decision making, as well as the public to explore emerging themes from the research. These themes represented the common barriers to access, user needs, and system-level constraints within accountability. Participants worked in groups to translate these themes into opportunities for solutions and identified existing workstreams, resources and case studies that might support the development of the solutions.

Public Engagement Methodology - Methodological Approach

Accessibility commitment

The accessibility requirements of participants were considered at all stages of public engagement. Budget was allocated to supporting participants' travel costs and the inclusion of their carers, support workers, or interpreters. All conversations and workshop materials were designed to be accessible for people with low or no literacy levels. Objects, illustrations, and extra facilitators were utilised to respond to individual communication needs. Each participant was offered access to communicate with the project team before their engagement to develop bespoke approaches in response to their needs.

Inbuilt accountability

The project team built accountability measures into the working processes of the project. For example, at all stages of public engagement, participants were encouraged to provide feedback on what did and did not work well for them. They were encouraged to provide private feedback, request further information about the project, and contribute their ideas via phone and email.

Recruitment approach

Recruitment was conducted through local community groups, posters, newspapers, and social media to ensure that digital access was not a requirement of participation, and to reach individuals who were not usually engaged.

National event representation

The national events were conducted in Alloa, Dumfries, Dundee, Tarbert, and Fort William. These locations were chosen because of their regular underrepresentation and to include cities, large towns, and rural locations.



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