News 22nd August 2017

Letter to Caroline Nokes, Minister for Government Resilience and Efficiency

by Tim Hughes

The steering committee of the UK Open Government Network has written to Caroline Nokes, Minister for Government Resilience and Efficiency, welcoming her to post and calling on her to take a lead on open government. 

Dear Caroline Nokes MP,

Commitment to open government

We write on the behalf of the UK Open Government Civil Society Network to congratulate you on your appointment as Minister for Government Resilience and Efficiency and set out how we are keen to work with you to continue to progress the open government agenda.

This agenda is more important than ever: with a key role in strengthening citizen trust in government, and making sure the insights, experience and innovative capacity of civil society and the private sector are properly connected with the work of government.

As you will know, the UK was a founding member of the global Open Government Partnership (OGP) in September 2011, and has played an active role in support of its development, including as a member of its global join civil society and government steering committee. Since that time, and in-line with the principles of the OGP, the UK Open Government Network has worked with each of the Cabinet Office Ministers with the open government brief to make progress on issues including open data, transparency, public participation and digital engagement reforms. Through this work, the UK has demonstrated important leadership on a number of open government reforms, including:

  • Creating a public register of company beneficial ownership;
  • Improving extractive industry payment and revenue transparency;
  • Adopting the Open Contracting Data Standard (led by Crown Commercial Service), and continuing to pursue transparency of aid via the International Aid Transparency Initiative, and government grants in line with the 360 Giving standard;
  • Piloting open policy making processes.

With one year left of the implementation of the current action plan (2016-18) and one year to go until the UK is due to publish its fourth plan (2018-2020), we hope to be able to work with you to look back at progress to date and look ahead to plan for future commitments, including commitments to place open government at the heart of the Brexit process, and in post-Brexit britain.

The Open Government Network (OGN) is a coalition of active citizens and civil society organisations committed to making government work better for people through increased transparency, participation and accountability. The network was formed in the early days of the UK’s membership of the OGP to collaborate with and challenge government to develop and implement ambitious open government reforms, and has been held up as a global example of co-creation.  The network includes over 1,000 individual members, representing more than 500 organisations across the UK.

Over the past five years, we worked with Lord Maude and Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP during their stints as Minister for the Cabinet Office, and their civil servants, to jointly develop the UK’s second (2013-15) and third (2016-18) Open Government Action Plans.  The third action plan, published alongside the previous Prime Minister’s Anti-Corruption Summit in May 2016, includes a joint commitment to continue that collaboration to implement the UK’s existing commitments and develop new reforms.

To that end, we would ask that you:

  1. Meet the Open Government Network’s steering group in September to jointly review the progress of the 2016-18 action plan and prepare for development of the 2018-20 action plan;
  2. Encourage your ministerial colleagues across all Whitehall departments to engage with developing the UK’s 2018-20 action plan;
  3. Represent the UK at the Open Government Partnership steering committee ministerial meeting at the UN General Assembly in September.

We look forward to working with you, your ministerial colleagues and civil servants to progress open government reform in the UK and globally.

Yours sincerely,

Andy Williamson, Democratise
Anna Nicholl, Welsh Open Government Network
Colm Burns, Northern Ireland Open Government Network
Gavin Freeguard, Institute for Government
Lucy McTernan, Scotland Open Government Network
Michelle Brook, The Democratic Society
Rachel Davies, Transparency International UK
Tim Davies, Practical Participation
Tim Hughes, Involve