Open Government Partnership
2022 – 2023 round up (part 1: action plan commitment progress)
Last year we blogged about what Open Government is and what Scotland has achieved over our last two national actions plans. So, as we near the end of 2023, we are pausing to reflect on the progress we have made in the current action plan and to share some highlights from the past year.
What have we achieved?
Civil society and government officials for each of our five commitments have been working hard to deliver on milestones included in the action plan.
Our five commitments address:
- Financial transparency: working to make the Scottish budget accessible to all to understand how our money is raised and used.
- Health and Social Care: improving and increasing service users and service delivery staff in the development, design and improvement of health and care services.
- Data and Digital: improving the use, accessibility & quality of Open Data across the public sector.
- Climate Change: establishing an Open Government stakeholder network to increase participation and engagement in the implementation of key climate change policies.
- Participation: establishing skills, standards and inclusive practice to improve and expand government’s participation offer to ensure people are involved in shaping policy and decision making that will affect them.
As part of our commitment to the Open Government Partnership, we publish progress reports throughout the year.
These reports provide a comprehensive update on what has been happening across each milestone and are submitted and agreed by each commitment lead (*to note when we mention ‘commitment lead(s)’ we are referring to each respective civil society and government lead for each commitment. Both work together to lead on the implementation and delivery of each milestone, often with the support of a wider civil society working group, or sub group*).
This means everyone is able to track the activities that are happening for each commitment and understand the next steps that will be taken on each milestone.
Our progress reports mean everyone can see the work that is happening, and what has perhaps been delayed or stalled. We categorise all activity as one of the following as this helps explain and visualise where each milestone is at in terms of activity:
- in progress
- on schedule
- behind schedule
- not started
How often are these progress reports updated? Or how often can you expect to see updates?
Another requirement as a member of the Open Government Partnership is for our oversight group, or steering group, to meet at least 3 times per year. This group is made up of senior government and civil society leads from each commitment. The group is there to agree and monitor the implementation of the 2021 to 2025 Action Plan alongside setting the strategic direction of the wider open government strategy in Scotland.
To align with these meetings, you can expect at least three, comprehensive updates each year via the progress reports. All progress reports throughout the action plan will be available and stored on our collections page.
This page stores all information related to Open Government, so check here first if you’re looking to find out anything about Open Government in Scotland.
Civil society representatives and government officials have been busy making progress on milestones to achieve and work towards some important initiatives that open up the work of government to the public.
Each commitment and their main goals over this action plan vary. However ultimately we are working to make sure there is more transparency, accountability and accessibility to what we’re doing in government.
So, what have we been doing? Some highlights from 2022/2023 include:
Commitment 1 – Fiscal Openness and Transparency
Fiscal transparency portal: developing and testing a very early version of a fiscal transparency portal which aims to improve the way people understand and access government financial information. This online portal will support the public to ‘follow the money’ – e.g. from when a budget is announced in Parliament to where this funding is then spent.
At the end of 2023, this early version of the portal has been tested by civil society and government officials working on the commitment. Funding has been secured for the next phase of the portal’s development, and work will finish by the end of February 2024.
The team are currently working to make these improvements to the next version of the platform. It is anticipated the following phases will be followed to create this:
- Design: September to October 2023
- Build: October 2023 to January 2024
- Test: February 2024
Next steps involve further testing, and building a business case to gain approval to begin to roll it out across the Scottish Government. This will involve starting to develop a version of the portal that can be used by members of the public. Anyone will be able to test the portal and provide feedback on the usability of it.
Improving communication of public finances: the commitment also delivered on an initiative to support in increasing awareness of tax in Scotland. An animated video created in collaboration with external stakeholders called ‘Raised in Scotland, Spent in Scotland’ was published in 2022. The video aims to communicate, in a more accessible way, topics such as reserved taxes, the Block Grant, devolved taxes, local taxes, and what the money raised is spent on.
In 2022, the commitment improved information to aid scrutiny of the annual budget and its associated spending by producing information on the Scottish Budget that is understandable and accessible for a wider audience.
It also made improvements to the guide that accompanied the Autumn Budget Revision 2023/2024 supporting document. Improvements have received positive comments from the Scottish Parliament’s Finance and Public Administration Committee (FPAC).
These milestones supported in meeting the commitment’s aim over the next two years to improve the accessibility of Scottish Government fiscal data and information.
Commitment 2 – Health and Social Care
Recruitment: the commitment oversaw the successful hiring and on-boarding of a person centred design team to drive forward the Health and Social Care commitment, and to work closely with policy teams leading on major areas of health and social care reform, such as the National Care Service (NCS) and Getting It Right For Everyone (GIRFE), to identify priorities for co-design activity.
Lived Experience and Stakeholder Register: routes were established for stakeholder organisations and those with lived experience to engage with co-design activity. A Lived Experience Expert Panel and Stakeholder Register were developed to support in meeting this commitment.
Co-design developments: Training materials, tools and guidance have been developed for this first iteration of the ‘design school’ model in health and social care settings, with both the NCS and GIRFE programmes moving through the stages of co-design, with hundreds of participants taking part in workshops and sessions.
The ‘Design School’ is the name given to the wrap around support and training that is offered to people with lived experience, stakeholder organisations and policy teams to work together on policy and service change
Next steps for the NCS involve:
- the remaining co-design sessions, analysis and sharing of insights continuing into early 2024
- training materials and guidance produced will be reviewed and updated in line with feedback from the nine regional events and six online events that took place across Scotland
- planning is also underway for the next stage of the co-design process for the NCS, so new training and coaching opportunities will be developed as required
Next steps for GIFRE involve:
- finalising the analysis of around 500 ideas and concepts developed through the co-design process
- all material and learning to be consolidated into central guidance for re-use in future programmes of work. This will be made available, along with the first iteration of the national GIRFE toolkit, when the current cohort of pathfinders have completed the full co-design process
Develop role and remit of civil society membership: in November 2023, the Third Sector Health and Social Care Collaborative took on the civil society working group role. It was recognised this is an opportunity to reach a diverse range of stakeholder organisations across the sector, and to reduce duplication. The group will be asked to act as critical friend on progress and to support the development of milestones, and guidance, methods and tools being produced.
Commitment 3 – Data and digital
Louise Meikleham from Scottish Government’s digital division wrote a blog that outlines data’s role in Scotland’s current Open Government Action Plan 2021 to 2025. The blog covers how the action plan is improving the use, accessibility & quality of Open Data across the public sector.
We would recommend reading the post to find out more about this commitment as it summarises key areas of activity to date and next steps.
Further highlights include:
- making progress in developing a data discoverability search engine as part of the CivTech challenge on using technology to find public sector data. A public version of the data.gov.scot website was launched in October for anyone to test and provide feedback on. It is believed to be the largest data discovery portal in Scotland, as it provides a greater variety of unrestricted data sources of different formats compared to an internet search.
- working collaboratively with the fiscal transparency commitment to develop a portal for opening up infrastructure data. The team have been providing input on data standards and open data.
- successfully putting over 30 public sector organisations through the Data Maturity programme. The programme outlines what ‘good data’ looks like and the process by which public sector organisations can improve their data to be useful for civil society. This lays the groundwork for longer term improvements in data infrastructure. The fourth cohort will start the programme in January 2024.
- launching the Scottish Artificial Intelligence Register. The AI register shares with the public examples of AI in use, or in development, across the public sector.
- the commitment has also been working on it’s outreach, and attended the DataFest Summit in November. More on this in our round up part 2!
Commitment 4 – Climate Change
Climate Policy Engagement Network (CPEN): in collaboration with civil society, the commitment saw it complete it’s initial milestones and develop and agree a terms of reference for the network, alongside a number of milestones over the course of the action plan.
The Climate Change Policy Network launched in April 2023, and is the main area of activity for the commitment. The network had over 70 members representing 60+ organisations across a range of different sectors, interest and demographics in the first month of operating. Member organisations include representatives from the public sector, equality groups, community organisations, academia and more. The network has been engaged on climate related policy, including the revision of the Climate Change Plan, and Scotland’s Just Transition Plans.
Next steps involve engaging with civil society to consider milestones for the next year to 18 months, with a focus on building the network, its functionality and areas of engagement.
Commitment 5 – Participation
Participation Framework: to build the resources available to public sector staff to support high quality, public participation and engagement, the commitment published the Participation Framework in February 2023. The resource provides a guide to good practice and information about participatory methods and when to use them.
The commitment also established a plan to further include equalities and human rights guidance into the document, which was taken forward in April 2023. A series of public workshops ran by expert facilitators from Deciding Matters took place to consider where equality and diversity, as well as inclusive practices could be better reflected in the participation guidance. Next steps involve outputs from the workshops being published and informing the next iteration of the Framework.
Participation Procurement Framework: This procurement framework agreement is being developed to support staff to commission service providers who can design, facilitate and deliver high quality and meaningful participation activity with a wide variety of people. The Public Information Notice for interested suppliers went live on Public Contracts Scotland in December. Next steps include pre-market engagement with interested providers and users, both internally at Scottish Government and externally.
This framework agreement for adults complements, and follows on from, Scottish Government’s Children and Young People Participation Framework Agreement (CYP). The CYP Framework Agreement seeks to ensure a broad range of voices can be involved in government decision – making, especially those identified as being seldom heard, furthest from their rights or vulnerable because of factors related to their personal development, features of their family life, or because of wider influences that impact on them within their community. The CYP Framework Agreement will launch in January 2024.
Paying participant guidance: a guide to paying participant expenses and time has been developed and will be published in 2024. The guidance will be advisory in the first instance, but will improve standards across the public sector when it comes to appropriately compensating for participant time, knowledge and experience.
Institutionalising Participatory and Deliberative Democracy (IPDD): the commitment also co-ordinated a cross governmental response to the Institutionalising Participatory and Deliberative Democracy (IPDD) expert working group’s report and recommendations, which set out how Scottish Government will make Scotland’s democracy more participative and inclusive. The response outlines what the Scottish Government will now do to deliver its commitments on participatory and deliberative democracy, and responds to each recommendation the report detailed.
Children and Young People: alongside delivering on the Children and Young People Participation Framework, the Children’s Rights Unit supported the creation of a Young Persons Participation Toolkit. Co-created with young people, The Right Way website was launched in April 2023.
The toolkit aims to support and challenge officials and decision-makers, as duty bearers, to work to ensure young people’s UNCRC Article 12 right is respected. UNCRC stands for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The hub provides resources, tools and guidance to meaningful involve young people in policy development and decision-making.
Participatory Budgeting: In July 2023 it was announced that local authorities had reached the milestone of the 1% mainstream PB target. Since 2021, more than 110,000 people took part in participatory processes and directly decided on how £154 million worth of council budgets had been spent. There was also the allocation of £1.2 million from the Just Transition Fund for the first time, which was shared to local communities in Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray in 2022/23. Over 10,000 people were involved in the voting process which led to 45 successful projects now being delivered.
The Green PB Action Group was set up in March 2022 to contribute and oversee positive ongoing development and adoption of Green PB activities and processes across Scotland. The group has co-designed a number of Green PB tools and materials including the newly launched Green PB Seal and Badge which recognises and supports green PB initiatives.
We knew when co-creating this action plan that progress on some key areas of activity could be quick and completed within a year (for example, hiring a specific role or delivering a programme or project). However others would take longer as they involve, for example, the development of infrastructure that isn’t already there (such as setting up a new centre of excellence).
We acknowledged this when creating the action plan, and made a commitment to review milestones every year.
Commitment leads from government and civil society will meet early next year to discuss where milestones could be developed to better reflect what is being planned and delivered in 2024 to meet our open government commitments.
Revised milestones as part of the Open Government Action plan 2021 to 2025 will be posted on the Open Government Collections page – here you can see the process that was followed last year.
Scotland’s civil society chair
We welcomed Juliet Swann to her new role as Scotland’s Open Government civil society chair in November, following Lucy McTernan stepping down from the role on grounds of good governance.
Juliet wrote a blog about her ambitions for Open Government in Scotland. This highlighted our achievements so far and her ambition to see even more representation from Scotland’s civil society and third sector. A priority for Juliet as we move forward with our action plans will be to improve planning for active public engagement across commitments.
We’re looking forward to building on the milestones we are delivering as part of the action plan and working in partnership with civil society and local government.
That’s all for our commitment highlights, but read more in part 2 where we share our key events from the past year!