Meeting notes 2nd August 2017

2016-18 Open Government Action Plan implementation meeting | 27 July 2017 | Meeting note

by Tim Hughes

On 27 July 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, progress updates on commitments can be found at: 


William Gerry (GDS) – chair

Frances Lee (BEIS)

Rachel Anderson (Cabinet Office)

Devan Raval (Cabinet Office)

Lucy Carruthers (Cabinet Office)

Felix Tomlinson (GDS)

Niall Coghlan (Cabinet Office)

Alice Pilia (Cabinet Office)

Jeremy Foster (Cabinet Office)

Andrew Bowen (Crown Commercial Service)

Esther Saville (DFID)

Wasim Akthar (Cabinet Office)

Tim Hughes (Involve)

Matthew Harriott (Involve)

Rachel Davies-Teka (Transparency International (TI))

Gavin Freeguard (Institute for Government)

Tim Davies (Open Data Services)

Ruchir Shah (SCVO)

Ben Worthy (Birkbeck College)


Thom Townsend (GDS)

Third National Action Plan commitments updates

Please note the minutes are to be read alongside the July 2017 Commitment Progress Updates. I have only included those commitments where questions or comments were raised about commitments in the meeting.

Commitment 1: Beneficial ownership

Rachel Davies-Teka expressed the hope that the government will meet its deadline on this commitment. She raised concerns about the lack of indications that the government would meet the deadline.

Commitment 3: Anti-corruption strategy

Rachel Davies-Teka asked whether there was any further update on the date the strategy would be published. Alice Pilia responded that the Government is still working on strategy, and it will be published in due course.

Commitment 4: Anti-corruption innovation hub

Tim Hughes asked about the delays to this project. Will Gerry responded that officials will be working across the summer to advise Ministers on plans to deliver the hub.

Commitment 5: Open contracting

Andrew Bowen set out that CCS want to introduce new software in September to: flag up awards to SMEs and add unique proprietary identities to open data releases. Tim Davies raised concerns around the ability for users to download open contracting data in bulk. Andrew responded that CCS are working on a roadmap to be shared with the open contracting stakeholder group.

Commitment 6: Grants data

Wasim Akthar reiterated that the Cabinet Office is working towards awards level data releases. Cabinet Office is planning to publish scheme level data for 15/16 and 16/17 for all departments. It will also pilot publication at awards level for 16/17 with two departments, which will align with 360Giving’s standards. In the next financial year, Cabinet Office is hoping to double this to four or five departments. Tim Davies welcomed the positive collaboration between Cabinet Office and civil society, but expressed concern about the reduced level of publication of granular grants data as being less than civil society expected. He highlighted the potential lessons to learn from the US federal government’s publication of grants data. Wasim asked to have a follow up discussion with Tim about this example.

Commitment 8: Freedom of Information Code of Practice

Rachel Anderson outlined that the Cabinet Office will be launching a consultation over the summer for a full twelve weeks. She highlighted that Cabinet Office is keen to get OGP stakeholders involved, including meetings with stakeholders during the consultation period.

Commitment 10: Involving data users in shaping the future of open data

Tim Davies asked whether there were any plans to take this beyond GDS doing outreach. He asked specifically whether GDS would be reconstituting forums or user groups. Will Gerry responded that GDS was reviewing its open data engagement, and would take the suggestion under advisement. However, there are currently no plans to reconstitute a user group.

Commitment 11: Better use of data assets

A member asked whether the Government was still planning to recruit a Chief Data Officer. Will Gerry responded that the Government was committed to recruit to the position.

Commitment 13: Ongoing collaborative approach to open government reform

Tim Davies raised the point that commitments didn’t necessarily need to be assessed by the IRM, therefore it could still be possible to add commitments. He discussed how other countries have added aspirational commitments to their NAPs to ensure progress was being made. Tim Hughes followed up by saying that if commitments that would take three years were identified, they could be added to the current NAP, and then be included in the fourth NAP, with milestones falling in the next NAP cycle.

Self-assessment report

Will Gerry updated the group on the Open Government team’s work to write and publish the UK’s mid-term Self Assessment Report. GDS will be working with commitment leads over the summer to draft the report. We will also be circulating a survey in August to officials and civil society stakeholders to gain feedback which will inform the report. The report will be published for a two week consultation in September, with the final report due to be published by the end of September 2017. The Self Assessment Report will cover all open government commitments in the current NAP, including those from the devolved administrations.

Ben Worthy outlined that alongside this process, he would be writing the OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism mid-term progress report. He will be interviewing officials and civil society stakeholders to gain their perspectives on the UK’s progress. The final report would likely be published in January 2018.

Development of NAP4

Tim Hughes gave a brief update on the Open Government Network’s plans for the development of the fourth NAP, for publication in summer 2018. The civil society steering group has been working out its priorities for the next year and the approach it will be taking.

The crowdsourcing of proposed commitments from civil society would begin soon, and continue until December 2017. This would be facilitated using an online platform, in addition to a series of workshops around the country. In January/February 2018, civil society would start working with government departments to begin agreeing on commitments to include in the fourth NAP.

Within the government, the Open Government team will be working with officials from various departments to identify potential commitments that could be included. The timelines for this largely mirror those of civil society.


OGP Ministerial meeting alongside UN General Assembly

The next OGP ministerial Steering Committee meeting will take place in September 2017 in New York, alongside the UN General Assembly. Officials are currently advising ministers about attendance. This will be the last OGP Steering Committee meeting before the UK steps off the Steering Committee.

Working between implementation meetings

Tim Hughes highlighted that civil society felt there was a need to improve discussions between commitment leads and civil society in the periods between the implementation meetings. Andrew Bowen and Tim Davies highlighted that the open contracting steering group is a good example of ongoing dialogue between government and civil society. Tim Davies also highlighted that there are other areas where collaboration has worked well, especially where open government cuts across many different ministerial briefs. He states that civil society can support with briefings to new ministers.

The next OGP implementation meeting with take place in October 2017. A confirmed date and time will be sent out in advance.