OGN Letters 9th July 2018

OGN Letter: Letter to Matt Hancock MP about ministerial engagement on open government

The Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
100 Parliament Street
9 July 2018

Dear The Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP,

Ministerial engagement on open government

We write to you on the behalf of the UK Open Government Civil Society Network to express our serious concern over the lack of ministerial engagement with the current open government action plan, now that data policy and governance have been transferred to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

We ask you to work with Ministerial colleagues to bring renewed high-level political commitment to serious and ambitious open government reform in the UK.

As you will know, as part of its commitment to the Open Government Partnership process, the UK delivers open government action plans in two-year cycles. These contain ambitious commitments, developed and implemented by reformers inside the civil service, engagement by civil society and high-level political support.

However, the lack of political commitment currently to further the domestic reform agenda threatens to undermine this action plan as well as the UK’s position as a global leader on open government.

Previous UK action plans have introduced ambitious and truly transformative open government reforms, such as introducing a public register of beneficial owners of companies, developing a cross-government anti-corruption strategy, and publishing UK aid funding and natural resource payments. This kind of global leadership on open government has moved other countries and jurisdictions to also introduce such measures.

In this current action plan cycle, civil servants have done a good job to get the process as far as it is now in a relatively short period of time and in a particularly challenging environment. However, the lack of political commitment means the action plan lacks ambitious commitments with clear and measurable milestones.

We look forward to high-level political commitment to serious and ambitious open government reform moving forward on this action plan, and working with you, your Ministerial colleagues and civil servants to continued progress open government reform in the UK.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Birtwistle, NCVO
Jess Blair, Electoral Reform Society and Welsh Open Government Network
Michelle Brook, The Democratic Society
Colm Burns, Northern Ireland Open Government Network
Tim Davies, Practical Participation
Rachel Davies Teka, Transparency International UK
Gavin Freeguard, Institute for Government
Tim Hughes, Involve
Lucy McTernan, Scotland Open Government Network
Giuseppe Sollazzo, Digital Architect and Data Strategist
Maria Stephens, Children’s Rights Alliance for England