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February 6, 2019

Open Government – now more than ever

Last week saw the launch of Scotland’s 2 year open government action plan – part of an international initiative to promote transparency, participation and accountability across all government. The event was a sell-out – a fact that seemed to take everyone by surprise but perhaps reflects the growing concern that democracy is faltering around the world. With the rise of populism, the prevalence of fake news and so on, the time seems right to press even harder for truly open government.  And these principles of openness and transparency should apply to every organisation – not just government.

Scottish Government

Last week, Scotland’s Second Action Plan on Open Government was launched. This has been produced in partnership by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Open Government Network. The Action Plan contains commitments on improvements to openness, transparency, involving people, and accountability of public services.

What is an Action Plan?

An Action Plan is a collection of all the different actions that the Scottish Government and its partners are going to do over the next couple of years. It’s a list of all the improvements and changes that Scottish Government wants to make, why these are important, who they will work with to deliver this and when they will do this by. ‘Open Government’ is the key theme for this Action Plan. When we (Scottish Government and the Open Government Network) talk about opening up government, we mean making governments and decision-makers more accessible, more transparent and involving the people they serve.

Where did the ideas come from?

The ideas in this document came from the public, in what we heard from public discussions and consultation. The ideas have been developed by the organisations and individuals involved in Open Government, members of the Open Government Steering Group, public service regulators, academics, and the policy teams at the Scottish Government. This work has been done in partnership. This document tells the story of Open Government in Scotland, the ambitions behind it and where it sits in wider contexts of other work and movements relating to open government.

What is an Open Government?

An Open Government is one which values openness, accountability, transparency and involving people. This Action Plan includes some ambitious commitments that have the potential to makereal progress towards these goals.

This Action Plan has been produced in line with the requirements of Scotland’s membership of the Open Government Partnership, an international collaboration of 90 governments across the world committed to three key principles of openness, transparency and citizen participation.

In 2016, Scotland was selected as one of 15 countries/regions around the world to join the programme to bring new leadership and innovation at all levels of government. We developed the first Scottish Open Government Partnership Action Plan in partnership with civil society. This Action Plan set out how we would use the opportunity to improve the lives of people living in Scotland, to learn from others, and to share our experience of Open Government. We delivered our first Action Plan over 2017.