NAP5 6th April 2021

Terms of Reference – Multi-stakeholder Forum NAP5

by Guest

The following Terms of Reference are as agreed by civil society on April 6th 2021.

UK Multistakeholder Forum for the creation of the fifth  (2021-2023) National Action Plan.



1.1 Alongside endorsing the Open Government Declaration, members of the Open Government Partnership create action plans in consultation with civil society, and commit to independent and public evaluation of their progress.

1.2 These action plans, known more commonly as National Action Plans or NAPs, demonstrate a commitment to transparent, participatory, inclusive and accountable governance. They help civil society organisations shape and oversee governments. NAPs are developed through a Multistakeholder Forum.

1.3 These Terms of Reference relate to the Multistakeholder Forum for the development of the UK’s 5th National Action Plan (2021 – 2023). They describe the membership, activities, rules and processes. These Terms of Reference will be consulted upon with members of the Multistakeholder Forum, wider civil society organisations, and agreed by the Co-Chairs.


2.1 The Multistakeholder Forum is ‘a structured environment designed to maximize participation and cooperation between government and civil society by bringing relevant partners into the discussion and ensuring that all voices are heard.’ In short, it brings the right people together to improve government.

2.2 The Multistakeholder Forum will be:

  1. A decision-making body having a mandate to make decisions regarding certain aspects of open government policy and processes. Government will honour those decisions by instructing relevant institutions to fulfill them. Government is accountable to the Multistakeholder Forum. 
  2. A consultation body playing an advisory role for input and feedback that can improve government’s open government policies and projects. The Multistakeholder Forum is accountable to the government.

2.3 Decisions will be reached by unanimous agreement, with no party (government or civil society) opposing the decision.

2.4 In the development of the NAP, the UK Multistakeholder Forum will follow the OGP Participation and Co-creation standards and will build on the IAP2 (International Association of Public Participation) core values:

  • Public participation is based on the belief that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process. Public participation includes the promise that the public’s contribution will influence the decision.
  • Public participation promotes sustainable decisions by recognizing and communicating the needs and interests of all participants, including decision makers.
  • Public participation seeks out and facilitates the involvement of those potentially affected by or interested in a decision.
  • Public participation seeks input from participants in designing how they participate.
  • Public participation provides participants with the information they need to participate in a meaningful way.
  • Public participation communicates to participants how their input affected the decision.

2.5 A series of Thematic Groups (see Appendix One) will be developed to bring together subject-matter specialists from civil society and government. Thematic Groups will be consultative: making recommendations to the Multistakeholder Forum and will focus on consensus building, collective action and co-creation across civil society and government.


“3.1 To collect a diverse range of perspectives on open government, including those as identified in the Equalities Act 2010, and from Thematic Groups, wider networks and consultation events.”

3.2 To translate perspectives on open government into actions to deliver measurable change.

3.3 To agree and implement a process to ensure the National Action Plan can be monitored on an ongoing basis.

3.4 To raise the profile and influence of open government, within government and beyond.


4.1 A combination of the regular Multistakeholder Forum meetings and related Thematic Groups (see Appendix One) will be used to develop the draft NAP for wider consultation. 

4.2 Membership of the Multistakeholder Forum will include relevant subject leads from government and civil society with the latter selected by the UK Open Government Network (OGN) Steering Committee, in consultation with OGN members. 

4.3 An arbitrary cap of 30 attendees (including the Secretariat) will be applied to the Multistakeholder Forum, but in practice, every effort should be made to keep numbers to the minimum required to resolve agenda items and progress the development of the NAP. Furthermore, the numbers of civil society and government representatives should be broadly equal. 

4.4 Attendees to the Forum may change subject to the view of the government and the UK OGN. This is to accommodate for unavailability whilst broadening the opportunity for more people to engage at the Forum level. This must not be to the detriment of achieving the objectives of the Forum.

4.5 Membership of the Thematic Groups will be coordinated by the UK OGN Steering Committee in consultation with the wider OGN and government. Membership will include:

  • GOVERNMENT: Relevant representatives from government as agreed by government;
  • CIVIL SOCIETY: Representatives from civil society as agreed by the UK OGN Steering Committee;
  • THIRD PARTY EXPERTS: Subject matter experts if necessary and as agreed (majority) by both government and civil society representatives.

4.6 A minimum of 50% of Forum Meetings over a calendar year should be co-chaired by a relevant Minister alongside the chair of the UK Open Government Network. A senior civil servant may co-chair in the Minister’s absence.

4.7 Thematic Groups will nominate a lead for each meeting from government and from civil society. 

4.8 Meetings will be virtual with the time / data agreed by the co-chairs (or nominated representatives) with attendees notified at least two weeks in advance.

4.9 The Open Government and Open Data team within the Cabinet Office will serve as Secretariat.  They will provide support to the co-chairs in managing the agenda, arranging meetings, and ensuring a summary of each meeting is published in good time (see 5.2 below).


5.1 Meetings will be held under the Chatham House Rule. 

5.2 The Co-chairs of the Forum and Thematic Group leads will co-produce and publish a write-up of each meeting in consultation with the Secretariat. The write-ups will be published on government and civil society websites within one week of a Multistakeholder Forum or a Thematic Group meeting.

5.3 A full list of the members of the MSF and Thematic Groups will be published on the civil society and government websites. 

5.4 Work in-between meetings should be as open as possible through the use of open documents and related tools.


6.1 The Multistakeholder Forum will launch on April 13th 2021. 

6.2 The Multistakeholder Forum will continue to meet until the fifth NAP is developed (anticipated to be August / September 2021).

6.3 It is proposed there will be three Forum meetings interspersed with two cycles of Thematic Group meetings to develop the Draft NAP, sequenced as follows: Forum, Thematic Groups, Forum, Thematic Groups, Forum. This may vary subject to additional meetings being required.

6.4 The Draft NAP will then be opened to wider public consultation. 

6.5 A further Forum will take place to consider feedback to the Draft NAP. 

6.6 A process will be agreed by the Multistakeholder Forum to monitor the implementation of the NAP on an ongoing basis –  possibly by maintaining the Multistakeholder Forum indefinitely.


7.1 Any Member of the Forum who is officially or formally connected with an organisation that receives funding from government, shall indicate this relationship, and where necessary recuse from any discussion, decision, debate or vote.

7.2 Members of the Forum will review each meeting agenda with a view to identifying any potential conflicts of interest and shall declare the conflict at the outset of the meeting.





1.1 Thematic groups were introduced in a Pre-Multistakeholder Forum meeting held in 2020 and include:

  1. Open Procurement / Contracting
  2. Open Justice
  3. Data Ethics (Algorithmic Transparency)
  4. Health
  5. Misinformation
  6. Freedom of Information
  7. The Environment (Natural Resource Transparency, Climate Change, Net Zero)
  8. Democracy building | Processes and models
  9. Public Standards and Accountability

1.2 These groups may be further amended / amalgamated following further consultation with government and civil society representatives.

1.3 The first cycle of Thematic Groups will be open for all to attend. Open attendance will be reviewed after the first cycle, as it may be necessary to develop a core group of stakeholders.


1.1 It is recognized that Members have expertise in the fields relevant to open government. As a consequence of this Members may be associated with organisations that receive funding from the government. This may result in potential, real or apparent conflicts of interest that need to be managed to protect the reputations of the government, the Forum, the Members and the recipient organisation.

1.2 The purpose of the Conflict of Interest Guidelines is to assist Members in performing their duties for the Forum in such a manner that public confidence, trust and integrity in the Forum is maintained.

1.3 A conflict of interest arises whenever a Member has a personal interest likely to influence the exercise of Forum duties and responsibilities. A personal interest relates to an economic benefit that may be granted or provided to a Member, their immediate family or to an organization with which the Member is formally or officially connected.

1.4 A real conflict of interest exists at the present time, an apparent conflict of interest could be perceived by a reasonable observer to exist, whether or not it is the case, and a potential conflict of interest could reasonably be foreseen to exist in the future.


1.5 Any Member who is officially or formally connected with a recipient organisation, shall indicate this relationship, and where necessary, recuse from any related discussion, decision, debate or vote.


1.6 Members will be encouraged to avoid or withdraw from participation in activities or situations that place them in a real, potential, or apparent conflict of interest. Members are encouraged to review their activities and affiliations to determine whether these might be perceived by an unsympathetic observer to present a conflict of interest with their role as Members and to discuss with the Chairs whether steps need to be taken to resolve the perceived conflict of interest.


1.7 It is impossible to foresee every situation that could give rise to a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest. Where there is doubt as to whether a real, potential, or apparent conflict of interest exists or whether any particular action is likely to bring into question the integrity of the government or the Forum, Members shall raise the matter with the Chairs for advice and guidance.


1.8 The Chairs, in consultation with the Secretariat, will ensure that an agreement is reached between the Member and the Multi-stakeholder Forum to address the conflict of interest in a manner that preserves and protects the reputations of all involved.