Unlocking the Value of Public Sector Data for Public Benefit minutes: December 2022

Minutes from the eighth meeting of the Independent Expert Group, held on 14 December 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Angela Daly, University of Dundee (Chair) (AD)
  • Ruchir Shah, Open Government and Civil Society Activist
  • Annie Sorbie, University of Edinburgh
  • Charlie Mayor, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
  • Carol Young, Deputy Director of the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights
  • Alexander Weir, Canon Medical Research Europe Ltd


  • Esperanza Miyake, University of Strathclyde
  • Sophie Ilson, Scottish Government Secretariat


  • Colin Birchenall, Digital Office, Scottish Local Government
  • Ronnie Kelly, Fujitsu UK

Scottish Government Secretariat

  • Christopher Bergin (CB), Lucille Brown (LB), Chris Rodger (CR)

Withdrawal from IEG

  • James Stevenson, Duo Verre Partnership LLP
  • Mahlet Zimeta (‘Milly’), The Open Data Institute

Items and actions

Welcome (AD)

The Chair welcomed attendees. It was agreed the IEG will meet for the ninth and final time on 8 February 2023.

Practitioner Forum Short Life Working Group (PF SLWG)

The Chair (AD) had attended the second meeting of the PF SLWG, on 7 December, and updated practitioners on the work of the IEG. Key points from the meeting were highlighted.

Points raised in discussion:

  • in the absence of a set of defined guidelines and principles for data controllers, there is a need to manage expectations, explain the scope of the programme and the gaps to be addressed
  • the Chair (AD) acknowledged that the PF feedback focuses more on day-to-day issues, while the IEG is focused on producing high-level draft principles and a policy framework
  • as their role is more strategic and high-level, addressing the practicalities of implementation is beyond the scope of the IEG
  • private sector engagement has been limited: the optimal mechanisms for engagement need to be considered, as public sector formats may be unconducive to quality engagement with this sector
  • Secretariat will continue to engage with the SG Digital Health and Care team, seeking actionable insights from the private and industry collaboration on the development of the Digital Health Strategy.
  • it was suggested the core purpose of private sector use of public sector personal data is two-fold: to improve public services and to achieve better economic outcomes. However, there remains a gap in defining ‘value’, and a lack of evidence that increasing access to public sector-held personal data would generate economic return
  • clarity about the intent and scope of the UVOD programme and IEG remit is vital for the forthcoming IEG Report
  • the third, and final, meeting of the PF SLWG, is scheduled for 23 January 2023

Communications update

CB presented an overview of progress on UVOD communications.

Key points:

  • the UVOD communications plan has until now focused on building a strong, dynamic web presence, with an emphasis on proactive publication of materials, in line with an open government approach
  • regular blogging activity has drawn in different voices, to create a breadth of perspectives and add texture to the programme narrative
  • the communications plan for the next phase aims to build on proactive collaboration, harnessing support from public sector partners to disseminate and amplify messages
  • building and cultivating public trust this takes time - there are no shortcuts
  • Programme comms should align with wider SG data policy priorities and related activity to realise synergies
  • metrics to monitor and measure outputs are important: appropriate indicators will need to be considered for the programme as a whole, e.g. public benefit - not private sector access to public sector personal data - ought be part of the overall evaluation of the programme’s success
  • with some funding secured for communications, such as short animation or infographics, IEG members expressed differing views on the best medium

Other points raised in discussion:

  • UVOD: Post-March 2023 – the SG will formally respond to the IEG recommendations, on completion of the report
  • members agreed use of the term “citizen-led” should cease in UVOD messaging, since it has not been citizen-led to date, and arguably should not be, due to the complexities and technical subject matter
  • furthermore, ‘citizen’ is increasingly construed as an exclusionary term that denies access (real or perceived) to those without that legal status
  • the example was given of how you do not go to people living in poverty for solutions at a macro-economic level, about addressing root problems that cause poverty


  • Secretariat to explore the utility of comms options, e.g. animations, films, or infographics.
  • Secretariat to ensure comms strategy is calibrated to reach different audiences.

IEG report

The Chair invited the IEG members to comment on the developing IEG Report. In advance of the meeting, members had been encouraged to comment on the sections detailing the draft principles and the recommendations, respectively.

AD encouraged group members to make adjustments to the text as the discussion progressed. Discussion covered the following sections:

  • Introduction
  • Context (need to reference key documents and initiatives to ensure credibility in the final Report)
  • Limitations (including private sector input, and technical expertise)
  • Principles
  • Recommendations

Key points:

  • the Chair requires proactive input from co-authors: IEG members must have engaged with the IEG Report during the drafting process, to be named authors
  • the Chair highlighted that the IEG Report must constitute a consensus (i.e. proposals agreed by all)
  • delivering demonstrable public benefit is not a one-off event: this needs to be assessed and reviewed during and after the process. This may require a new approach to management, oversight, reporting and accountability
  • the economic dimension is fundamental to this programme, to build a case for investment and create conditions for publicly beneficial economic activity
  • some significant challenges are out of scope for the IEG to address, such as Intellectual Property matters
  • the Report will cross-reference relevant SG programmes and initiatives, e.g. data literacy, data maturity
  • need to be clear that this marks the start of building the foundations of a wider programme


  • Secretariat to schedule another co-writing session in mid-January, and invite IEG members (Secretariat to organise in liaison with Chair)
  • Secretariat to encourage IEG members to contribute to the draft Report, via the shared document

Conference participation

  • participation in the Data For Policy international conference was well-received
  • we can build on the international connections that have been established

Literature review 3

  • the third commissioned literature review: ‘Private sector access to public sector personal data: exploring data value and benefit sharing’, has been approved
  • the document will be published on the SG website, along with the other literature reviews
  • a watermarked PDF version will be available sooner, for limited circulation


The Chair thanked the attendees for their input, and noted that the next meeting will be the final meeting of the IEG.

Next IEG meeting: 8 February 2023, 1300 to 1430 hours.

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