Scotland embraces Open Government

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The project has seen Scotland engage with international partners as it aims to make government more transparent and accessible

15th August 2018 by Gareth Jones 2 Comments

Scotland is leading the way in embracing the principles of Open Government.

A network of citizens and civil society groups was formed on the back of Scotland joining the Open Government Partnership’s Subnational Pilot Programme two years ago.

Since then Scotland has been praised for embracing the principles of the movement, which aims to get citizens and governments working together so that communities have a say on decision making and that decisions are made in a transparent and accountable manner.

The project has reached a key milestone, with work beginning on the second Open Government Action Plan - which aims to build on progress that has been made since the initial plan was introduced last year.

Paul Bradley, Scotland Open Government coordinator, said the plan is aimed at increasing public involvement in Scottish politics.

He said: “Scotland’s next Open Government Action Plan provides one of the clearest avenues to increase inclusion and participation of citizens in Government in Scotland.

“These are essential values of a healthy democracy, and the chance for citizens to shape this plan pushes the door ajar for a much needed conversation between the Scottish Government and the people it serves about how their government can work better for them.”

"It's still too soon to say what impact Scotland's membership of the Open Government Partnership will have, but a lot will rest on the ambition that's set in this upcoming plan of action."

Meetings are being held across Scotland this month to allow those interested in Open Government to discuss the action plan, and ideas are also being crowdsourced online.

Representatives from Scotland were present at the recent Open Government Partnership Global Summit in Tbilisi, Georgia, which focused on civic engagement, fighting against corruption, and public service delivery. 

Unlike some of the other nations in the partnership, Scotland has benefitted from having a government that is committed to working to implement the principles of Open Government.

Doreen Grove, head of open government at the Scottish Government, said that it can be challenging to make policies more responsive but this has not stopped those at Holyrood from embracing reform.

She said: “The Open Government agenda is one that fits with the reforming culture of the Scottish Government. This is very important as Open Government is something that isn’t always that easy.

“It is an agenda that works for the government but they are also prepared to work for it. They see it is absolutely part of the kind of government they want to be.”

And Scotland’s role in developing the Open Government movement across the globe is set to be further enhanced after former Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) deputy chief executive Lucy McTernan was named on the International Open Government Partnership Steering Committee. McTernan said she is looking forward to discussing how change has been brought about in Scotland.

She said: “What I bring from a Scottish perspective is a real understanding in bringing about the changing nature of government in practice.

“Quite a lot of the other partners are talking about the theory of open government. But what we have got from being part of a small country, with a strong civil society, is a real experience of making changes and making things happen.”

For more information, see the Open Government Partnership website.

15th August 2018 by David

Really? After SPADs spend their days redacting FOIs and blocking information being released? Somebody at TFN has swallowed the press release from St Andrews House whole.

16th August 2018 by Paul Bradley

Hi David! These are the very issues we're hoping to address through Scotland's place in the Open Government Partnership - would welcome a submission from you: https://www.ideas.gov.scot/open-government