Meeting notes 19th April 2017

OGN Steering Committee Strategy Session | 15 March 2017 | Meeting note

by Tim Hughes

Location: Central Working, 231-233 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 4EN

Date: 15 March 2017


On 15th March members of the UK Open Government Network (OGN) steering committee met to discuss the next phase for the OGN. This note outlines the key outcomes and actions from the discussion. OGN members are invited to review the note and make comments and suggestions.


Colm Burns; Gavin Freeguard; Lucy McTernan; Michelle Brook; Rachel Davies-Teka; Tim Davies; & Tim Hughes

The OGN in review

The steering group reviewed the history of the OGN, mapping out the key events since the launch of the Open Government Partnership in September 2011. This is being developed into an interactive timeline for inclusion on the OGN website:

The steering group briefly reviewed the OGN’s terms of reference, and agreed that proposals should be put to the OGN for improvements.

A number of actions arose from reviewing the progress of the OGN to date:

Action Responsibility
OGN history – outlining key events in development of network and OGP Involve & Demsoc
Development of an Annual Coordinator’s report on funding, activities and progress Involve
Review of the OGN’s Terms of Reference by the steering committee, with proposals for changes put to OGN membership Involve
Disaggregation of OGN communications – development of newsletter list as well as discussion list Involve
Development of a narrative for the OGN – This is what OGP UK is and this is why it’s important. This is what we’ve achieved and this is where we’re going. Involve & OGN members


The steering group reviewed the context for open government in the UK. The key political, economic, social and technological drivers and trends that emerged were as follows:


+ Devolution – creating competition between the nations

+ Regional devolution – space for test beds – but needs to be engaged

+ Increased civil society energy

+ Stable government

+ Brexit – rule book out the window

– Brexit – attention pulled away

– Indy Ref 2 – stretching resources

– Loss of political champions – in Whitehall and internationally

– Weak opposition

– Civil society / campaign organisations stretched


+ Co-operative growth and workplace democracy

– Openness considered to equal left / liberal

– Brexit – pressure towards deregulation

– Funds lost around / due to Brexit

– Austerity


+ New social movements forming

+ Search for big changes

+ Backlash against populism

+ Return to local focus

+/- Feeling that current system / government has let people down

+/- Recognition there is a problem – but little agreement what it is

+/- New global points of reference

– Echo chambers

– Mistrust of experts

– Social divisions

– Fake news

– Populism

– Uncertainty for EU citizens in UK


+ New online tools for engagement

+ Increase in civic tech

– Lack of impact of civic tech on political process

– Dominance of tech firms

– Political advertisements and micro-targeting

– Information overload

– Automation and algorithmic governance

Strategic focus

Considering the current context, two clear areas of strategic focus emerged for the next year of the OGN:

Consolidation of existing open government reforms

Steering committee members felt that the current context does not lend itself to securing big new political commitments in the short term. There was also concern that the loss of political ownership and presence of competing drivers could see existing rights and reforms be weakened.

The steering committee concluded that the focus should be on building awareness and support from civil society for existing rights and reforms, while working with government to improve their implementation.

Action Responsibility
Development of fact-sheets about existing open government rights Involve & OGN members
Evidence gathering and personal stories Involve & OGN members
OGN event in June:

  • The history
  • Using Open Government
  • Brexit and Open Gov Panel
  • Launch of NAP 4 one-year countdown
  • Launch a narrative for the OGN

Campaigning for open and accountable Brexit process

Steering committee members felt that the OGN needed to develop a position and strategy on open government and the Brexit process. It was felt that there are a number of opportunities and risks to open government from the Brexit process, including in the trade negotiations, law-making process, and repatriation of powers.

Action Responsibility
Development of campaign strategy Involve & OGN members