OGN Letters 16th August 2016

OGN letter: Letter to welcome Ben Gummer as Minister for the Cabinet Office

On 10 August 2016, the UK Open Government Network steering group wrote to Ben Gummer, the new Minister for the Cabinet Office, to welcome him to post and set out how the OGN wishes to work with him to progress the open government agenda.  Read and download the text of the letter below.

UPDATE 21/10/16: The Minister’s response to this letter can be found here: https://www.opengovernment.org.uk/2016/10/21/ben-gummer-responds-to-ogn-letter/

Dear Rt Hon Ben Gummer MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office

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 the Cabinet Office and set out how we are keen to work with you to continue to progress the open government agenda.

You take on this agenda at a critical time.  At home, the referendum has revealed a deeply divided society, and demonstrated how distant and disconnected government is from everyday life across the country.  Abroad, the vote leaves the UK needing to reinforce our standing as a positive force for open societies and human development on the international stage.  We believe that open government has an integral role to play in reconnecting our society and reasserting our global leadership.

Your predecessors made important progress on a number of open government initiatives.  As you will know, the UK was a founding member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in September 2011, and has played an active role in support of its development, including as a member of its steering committee.  Through this initiative, the UK has demonstrated important leadership on a number of open government reforms, including:

  • Transparency of company beneficial ownership, 
  • Extractive industry payment and revenue transparency,
  • Open data standards (e.g. Open Contracting Data Standard, International Aid Transparency Initiative, and the Open Data Charter).

The Open Government Network (OGN) – a coalition of active citizens and civil society organisations committed to making government work better for people through increased transparency, participation and accountability – 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.  We worked closely with your predecessors, Lord Maude and Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, 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 Prime Minister’s Anti-Corruption Summit, includes a joint commitment to continue that collaboration to implement the UK’s existing commitments and develop new reforms.  

During 2015, in preparation for the third action plan, the OGN crowdsourced an Open Government Manifesto, setting out 28 proposals for the plan.  The commitments launched in May made welcome progress on a good number of these.  Under your direction, there is significant potential to build on this progress and extend into new areas of open government.  We attach as an annex a list of the outstanding proposals, that we hope to work with you to prioritise, develop and implement.

To that end, we would ask that you:

  1. Meet with us, the Open Government Network steering group, in September to jointly review progress and opportunities
  2. Co-host with us an event in October with the Open Government Network’s wider membership
  3. Attend and take an active role at the global Open Government Partnership Summit in Paris in December

We look forward to working with you, your ministerial colleagues and civil servants to tackle the challenges that face us as a country and progress open government reform in the UK and globally.

Yours sincerely,

Andy Williamson, Democratise
Anthony Zacharzewski, The Democratic Society
Claire Schouten, International Budget Partnership
Colm Burns, NI Open Government Network
Lucy McTernan, SCVO and Scotland Open Government Network
Rachel Davies, Transparency International UK
Simon Burall, Involve
Tim Davies, Practical Participation
Tim Hughes, UK Open Government Network coordinator

See the full letter with annexes below: