Meeting notes 15th February 2017

2016-18 Open Government Action Plan implementation meeting | 1 Feb 2017 | Meeting note

by Tim Hughes

On 1 February 2017, members of the OGN’s steering committee and government commitment leads met to review the implementation of the 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan and the UK OGP process. This note of the meeting was produced by the Cabinet Office. In addition:


William Gerry – Cabinet Office, Government Digital Service
Jeremy Foster – Cabinet Office, Government Digital Service
Ryan Bents – Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Alison Cotterill – Home Office
Hilary O’Flynn – Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Ian Parfitt – HM Revenue and Customs
Yee-Wan Yau – HM Revenue and Customs
Rachel Davies – Transparency International
Oliver Lendrum – Cabinet Office, Freedom of Information
Tim Hughes – Involve
Laura Cronk – Cabinet Office, Joint Anti-Corruption Unit
Peter Hatchard – Cabinet Office, Government Digital Service
Farah Ahmed – Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Patrick Hynes – Department for International Development
Michelle Brooke – The Democratic Society
Colm Burns – Northern Ireland Open Government Network
Gillian Hall – Department for Work and Pensions
Gavin Freeguard – Institute for Government
Tim King – Cabinet Office, Government Grants Information System
Andrew Bowen – Crown Commercial Service

Recap since the last implementation meeting

Open Government Partnership (OGP) Summit in December 2016

3,000 people from government, business and civil society came together in Paris, hosted by the Government of France. Officials from a number of departments attended and spoke at the Summit. Sir Eric Pickles, the Prime Minister’s UK Anti-Corruption Champion lead the delegation. Minister for the Cabinet Office Ben Gummer had planned to attend but had to decline at the last minute due to urgent parliamentary business.

Outcomes from the Summit include

The Paris Declaration reaffirming commitment to the original founding principles of the OGP and a series of collective actions. The UK signed up to five collective actions on open contracting, beneficial ownership, innovation and data driven approaches to tackle corruption, support for the open data charter and creating an open source software policy.

During the Summit, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales released their own open government commitments, in areas such as open contracting, open data, research data, and working with different levels of government. Each of them is responsible for implementing their own commitments, with all UK commitments being assessed and monitored by the OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism.

The Contracting 5 initiative (Colombia, France, Mexico, UK, and Ukraine) was launched and will meet again at the end of March 2017. These countries are world leaders in the implementation of open contracting. The UK’s Crown Commercial Service (CCS) is leading a workstream on data policy and compliance.

Tim Hughes (Involve) said the focus at the Summit was open government as a response to distrust in institutions and populism. He praised the updated National Action Plan (NAP) with commitments from the devolved administrations. He noted that civil society organisations were disappointed the minister was not able to attend.

The Open Government Network (OGN) Steering Committee wants to broaden the base and get more departments involved in the NAP process. It should be expanded to service delivery departments and agencies, and the OGN will broaden the coalition with wider society so it is more of a social movement.

Commitment updates

  • Open Contracting – Andrew Bowen (CCS) said Open Contracting Partnership (OCP) are doing a technical assessment of how well we have done on implementation of the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS). The UK is now a Showcase and Learning Project for the OCP. CCS are doing a discovery project to look at further steps on procurement transparency.
  • Natural resource transparency – There has been good progress against milestones 1 and 2. For milestone 3, the ambition remains unchanged but the timetable is delayed. There is an ongoing dialogue with the OECD in preparation for them hosting and convening the dialogue. We will agree the terms of reference for the trading dialogue before the UK Anti-Corruption Strategy is published.
  • Beneficial ownership – It remains the Government’s intention to introduce legislation on the register as soon as Parliamentary time allows. We also intend to publish a call for evidence on the detail of how the policy will work in the coming weeks.
  • Anti-Corruption Strategy – Laura Cronk (Joint Anti-Corruption Unit (JACU)) said they have started a series of anti-corruption meetings with stakeholders, such as the Bond Group. We are waiting for feedback from business and civil society, and starting to engage with Ministers. The draft strategy will soon be finalised. Transparency International will be meeting JACU next week and expressed their concern about the level of ministerial priority going forwards.
  • Anti-Corruption Innovation Hub – William Gerry (Cabinet Office, Government Digital Service (GDS)) said he will shortly send out to stakeholders an invitation to tender for a consultant. The project is front loaded so it is fully operational by the end of May 2017. The consultant and GDS will be working to establish the appropriate methods of communication and promotion for the hub.
  • Grants data – Tim King (Cabinet Office, Government Grants Information System) said that Cabinet Office is continuing to work with departments to collate their data, and are committed to publishing data as set out in the NAP commitment.
  • Freedom of Information Code of Practice –  Oliver Lendrum (Cabinet Office, Freedom of Information) said it has taken longer than had been initially anticipated but the work is ongoing. The team will consult on proposals for a new Code of Practice shortly.
  • Open data – Peter Hatchard (GDS) said that following senior staff changes at GDS, we will continue as planned with work on open data. Kevin Cunnington, the Director General of GDS, has indicated he wants us to do more work on data.
  • Ongoing collaborative approach to open government reform – William Gerry (GDS) noted a previous undertaking that the NAP will be updated twice. The first update was the additional commitments from the DAs in December 2016. There will be a further update later this year.

Alison (Home Office) asked when departmental open data plans will need to be published. Peter (GDS) said that they are working with departments and the data leaders network to find the right method for publication.

Outcomes from the workshop

Following the workshop at the previous meeting the open government team have identified various ways to support the group:

  • A glossary of open government vocabulary – over the next month we will put together a bibliography to explain what key words mean (including variations where there is no precise definition). This will be co-created with officials from across government and representatives from civil society.
  • Better coordination of different groups across Whitehall by:
    • Working with the Data Leaders Network to identify data that departments feel they can open.
    • Improving the coordination of the OGP’s work domestically and internationally by working with DFID, FCO and JACU.
  • Improving recognition of open government in Whitehall and publicly by:
    • Working with comms teams across Cabinet Office. Commitment leads can write blogs to raise awareness.
    • Publicising exemplars of transparency across departments – monthly updates to include progress on commitments/open government initiatives. Institute for Government are also looking for examples.
  • Access to other countries’ reformers by providing monthly updates on key achievements from around the world on open government.

There was a suggestion about having a competition between government departments, such as a league table of departments. However, the Institute for Government publish their annual Whitehall Monitor report which includes measures on openness and transparency.

The open government team would like to do a short discovery project about the OGP process in the UK. We will contact commitment leads, civil society representatives, and representatives from departments that don’t presently have commitments, to try and get a better idea of how the OGP process in the UK is going. The open government team aims to present the findings at the next meeting.

Next meeting

The next meeting will take place at the end of April / start of May.