Open Government Partnership

Thanks for sharing your views – response to public comments

December 7, 2018 by No Comments

Thanks for sending us your views on the draft Action Plan

Thanks to everyone who engaged with the draft Action Plan and sent comments. These have helped us improve the commitments, provide more clarity and, in places, helped make them more far-reaching or ambitious. We have incorporated those we could immediately, but where this was not possible, we will keep them in mind as we implement the Action Plan and have responded as fully as possible below.

We were really pleased to have heard from a range of new voices and organisations who up until now haven’t been involved in developing this Action Plan. This gave us an opportunity to hear from new people and perspectives.

We also got some really thoughtful detailed comments from people and are grateful for the time and consideration people put into this. We know that there are people all across the country with great experience and expertise in all different aspects of open government – we now need to find a way to build on this experience, develop new relationships so that we can work together with a broader group of people.

We are also really pleased to receive specific offers of support and collaboration. Some of these conversations happened over Twitter, generated by the discussion on proposals on the draft Action Plan, others on the open government network forum, as well as some through email. We suggest beginning these conversations with discussion and working out how best to proceed collaboratively, depending on how people would like to be involved. We also need to continue to work with and grow the Open Government Network, it is a vital partner if we are to deliver the plan effectively. A strong relationship that encourages and challenges government to get better at all of this.

Background:

What were you looking for views on?

We were seeking people’s views on the draft of the Open Government Action Plan. This short period of public comment was part of a wider, longer-term co-creation process. The Action Plan is based on the priorities we heard from people throughout public discussion events

How did you listen to people’s views? What else did you do?

We began with getting ideas from the public and an understanding of the key priorities, holding several public discussion events across Scotland over the summer, and welcoming contributions through an online crowdsourcing site. This acted as a central repository for everything we heard from the public; this was publicly available for people to add ideas, view and discuss others ideas. We received almost 60 ideas that fell under 5 key themes, the Scottish Government worked with partners and policy teams to translate these in practical actions and potential commitments that would deliver on what we heard.

We then worked with the Open Government Steering Group representatives to further develop these actions throughout October. We shared a draft of the near-final Action Plan in November as a chance for anyone to share their views and received 10 comments. We took these on board, discussed with policy teams to see what might be possible to improve or strengthen the proposed commitments, or to add clarity or further details. Some of the comments are new, big ideas and couldn’t be added to the Action Plan at this stage, but that doesn’t mean they are ignored. We will come back to these over the implementation period of this plan; to discuss some of the proposals, to see how they might work and how they could be implemented – and to involve all those who could partner and share experience in this.

What you said + responses:

Summary of what we heard and response from Scottish Government
Below we have given a brief summary of the comments and themes from the 10 comments we received. A majority of these responses were made public by respondents they have been anonymised because some were not public. In addition, we will respond individually to specific comments that were submitted by email.

While we incorporated as many of the comments as we could in the plan. Where this was not possible, we have tried to respond to below. We would welcome input from the Open Government Network too in reply to these comments. Please feel free to add a comment below or email us at ingage@gov.scot

We will continue to engaging with the Open Government Network throughout this Action Plan delivery period and will be offering the opportunity for further participation to all individuals and organisations who have been involved in the development of this Action Plan. As we begin to work on implementation of the commitments we hope those who are interested and have expertise will want to continue to be part of this work.

General comments: 

The comments were generally positive and supportive of Open Government and direction of Action Plan. Some expressed a desire that it could go further and be more ambitious and wide-ranging. While others felt this consultation and work should have been more widely advertised and promoted – we acknowledge this and will continue to endeavour to expand our reach, working with the Open Government Network.
There were also questions about how some of the partners identified as being part of delivering commitments – the reasons for this vary, but overall we were trying to ensure we could fulfil the OGP’s requirement for sufficient detail to evidence how it will be delivered, so having an idea of delivery partners in place prior to publication was necessary. We have therefore named organisations who either have experience and who are already involved, or who have volunteered or expressed interest in being involved in particular elements of work. This is neither exhaustive or intended to exclude any other individual, interested group or partners. We welcome others who would be interested in being involved in delivery and implementation of these commitments to get in touch at ingage@gov.scot and we are happy to discuss.

Detailed comments and responses: 

Clearer linkages between important roles of FOI and Local Governance Review and Lobbying database play in open government:
We agree that these are important elements, and show how Open Government encompasses lots of different aspects of governments work. The context of open government is to rebuild trust with people and to strengthen democracy. We will endeavour to tell this narrative clearly over the duration of the Action Plan, and welcome involvement of partners in doing this.

Should include unpicking how decisions are made and identifying points of influence and how these can be influenced: This was something we heard strongly in the public discussion events and idea generation. This is an ambitious proposal which we will keep in mind as we implement the plan; while it will not be addressed in specifically in this Action Plan, it is our ambition that the Participation Framework will work towards achieving this need to some extent.

Measures of success or impact: Our progress is assessed in two ways, firstly and most importantly the Open Government Partnership appoints an independent reporter to assess progress in the plan. The report is then published on the OGPs international platform. There’s a report of our last Action Plan in 2017 too. In addition, there are self-assessments delivered to OGP a couple of times during the plan period to assess progress and this time around it is our intention to develop a way of this being done openly so it can be tracked throughout the period of the plan. Also, milestones are detailed in the second document ‘Detailed Commitments’ – this is quite lengthy and detailed but gives all the detail on specific actions for delivery and implementation, so do have a look if you’re interested. We also sent this response directly on the Open Government Network here.

We heard comments about open data.

• A proposal for developing open standards becomes part of the commitment: Our existing open data platform is built on open standards: it is built using linked open data technology, is five star open data (assessed according to the internationally recognised 5 star schema for data publication), and largely meets best practices in publishing data on the web as described by W3C (http://www.w3.org/TR/dwbp/).

• Better access to local authority data: We appreciate your comments regarding giving better access to local authority data, such as voting records and participatory budgeting. Whilst this is beyond the scope of Scottish Government data publishing, there is a role for Scottish Government and our partner in delivering this plan, Cosla, in helping to broker a discussion on what local authority data can be made open. We will be engaging with the open data community across Scotland on this and related topics, and can invite you to participate.

• We had some comments saying this was the first they had heard of statistics.gov.scot so here’s some further information:
• The Scottish Government does indeed have a national open data portal – statistics.gov.scot. Most of our commitments in this action plan focus on increasing the scope, content and usage of this portal. It uses the metadata standard DCAT, is built using linked open data technology, is five star open data (assessed according to the internationally recognised 5 star schema for data publication), and largely meets best practices in publishing data on the web as described by W3C (http://www.w3.org/TR/dwbp/).

• Collaboration with others, such as Open Data Institute and others in this field (such as the people who offered comments and responses): We are currently engaging with representatives from ODI on how we can improve access to data. We will be engaging with the open data community across Scotland on this and related topics, and can invite you to participate. We are already working with some who proposed comments and covered some of the specific comments raised. We will be meeting in 2019, with respondents invited and other stakeholders, to discuss how best to increase the openness, accessibility and use of data in Scotland.
We heard comments about open-contracting
• Some of the responses focussed on open-contracting and the Scottish Government team responded publicly on the forum here, https://discuss.opengovernment.org.uk/t/sharing-the-draft-action-plan-on-open-government-we-want-to-hear-your-views/696/4?u=niamhwebster giving a brief overview of what Scottish Government have committed to for the 2018-2020 Scotland’s Open Contracting strategy around procurement.

• Since the publication of the Open contracting strategy in 2017 Scottish Procurement has worked closely with the Open Contracting Partnership and has implemented the following Open Contracting developments to our national advertising portal, Public Contracts Scotland (PCS). These included:
• Making contract and award notices available in new, downloadable formats rather than just html.
• Where contracting authorities are also using PCS to carry out the tender exercise, any procurement documents associated with the procurement were made permanently available after the closing date for receipt of the tenders.
• Created a dedicated Open Contracting area on PCS which is open and accessible to the public, without the need to register.
• Developed a bulk downloads of notice information which is available in OCDS and TED and can be downloaded in JSON, XML and excel.
• Developed an Application Programme Interface (API) which means bulk download information will be machine readable.
• Installed the ability to download the statistics from each contracting authority’s buyer profile in either excel or CSV.
• Linked the procurement exercise notices through the globally unique identifier (OCID).
• Made the unique identifier (OCID) publicly visible for users and enabled searches on PCS to return results using this identified.
• Applied the Open Government Licence (OGL) to all content published on PCS site.

We will continue to work closely with Open Contracting Partnership to further increase transparency with a series of new commitments which will be in the final Action Plan:

• Publish more information about our procurement-related spend.
• Publishing contract documents – starting with large, collaborative contracts
• Consulting wider civil society on how best to make the procurement information we publish both useful and accessible.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss further, please contact OpenContracting@gov.scot.

Some quick reflections from us on this process:

As mentioned, the public discussion events drew out clear themes of financial transparency and participation and consultation while a number of the responses to the draft focussed on technical areas such as of open data or open contracting. Over the years across the world, open government networks have always attracted a range of organisations vocal on open data. So while we have some experts with exceptional experience in open data working with us in Scotland, this had not been a theme we have heard from the public particularly strongly before. So we were pleased to get that discussion going around the plan and we hope will continue to challenge and help to bring together the thinking on data. We are also grateful that the open government network in Scotland includes a range of expertise, interests and experience. Together we can look at open government from a variety of different angles and perspectives.

This led us to reflect on what we could learn from the variety of engagement methods used and the response and engagement generated. Our initial reflections are that public discussions produced broad themes, and general proposals; whereas a (albeit short) consultation on a written document produced more technical and specific actions and interest. Both approaches drew out new audiences and new interests, and new ideas. All to the good!

We’ll dig into this reflection and learning a bit more soon; we are doing a specific piece of work to reflect on the process with our partners. We will produce a report to share our learning so that we can use the experience to make it easier and improve the partnership working for implementing this plan, developing the next Action Plan, or indeed inform or advise any future co-creation processes.

Thanks and stay involved

Thanks again to those who took the time to read and comment on the Action Plan. And thanks for reading our responses, we hope this has helped with closing the feedback loop. We are keen to work with a wide range of people and organisations, including the Open Government Network. We look forward to delivering this Action Plan with you – and work on some of these ideas for the next Action Plan. This is just the beginning!


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