Open Government in Scotland

Thanks for your interest in open government. We’ve brought together below all the information you need to understand what open government is, the impact it can have, and how you can get involved. If you’d like to discuss open government further, you can contact Open Government Scotland Civil Society Group secretariat: [email protected].

Read the reflections of the outgoing Civil Society Group Chair Lucy McTernan and new Civil Society Group chair Juliet Swann

What is open government?

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a global partnership that brings together government and civil society reformers to create Action Plans that change how people’s voices are heard in decision making.

OGP includes 75 member countries and 104 local governments – representing more than two billion people and thousands of civil society organisations.

Scotland has been an active and reforming member of the Open Government Partnership since 2016, delivering action plans in partnership with Scotland’s Open Government Civil Society Network.

Open Government is about opening the door into how Government works. It functions so that members of the public can explore and better understand what decisions are made and why, ask questions and hold power to account.

It does this through people within government and people outside government working together to deliver commitments as part of an Open Government action plan.

The main aim of these Open Government initiatives are to make government and decision making processes more accessible, transparent, effective and inclusive by involving civil society every step of the way.


Open Government Action Plan 2021 to 2025 commitments

Scotland is an OGP Local member. We are limited to five commitments in each of our Action Plans.

We co-created our action plan with civil society and members of the public in 2021. Commitments in the plan are all areas in which the ongoing promotion of transparency, participation, inclusivity and accountability was important to them.

Click each commitment to download more information.

  1. Fiscal Oppenness and Transparency: working to make the Scottish budget accessible to all to understand how our money is raised and used.
  2. Health and Social Care: improving and increasing service users and service delivery staff in the development, design and improvement of health and care services.
  3. Data and Digital: improving the use, accessibility & quality of Open Data across the public sector.
  4. Climate Change: establishing an Open Government stakeholder network to increase participation and engagement in the implementation of key climate change policies.
  5. Participation: establishing skills, standards and inclusive practice to improve and expand government’s participation offer to ensure people are involved in shaping policy and decision making that will affect them.

Find out more about Scotland’s Open Government commitments and milestones.

Roles and responsibilities/who’s involved

The Open Government Steering Group oversees the development and delivery of each Action Plan. It is jointly chaired by the Minister responsible for Open Government and the Civil Society Network Chair.

The committee is comprised of equal numbers of Civil Society representatives (elected from the Open Government Civil Society Network), and government colleagues from Scottish Government and COSLA.

Active Civil Society reformers are fundamental to the Open Government model. Civil society collaborates with and challenges government to develop and implement ambitious open government reforms and initiatives to improve outcomes and raise standards for all.

 Scottish Government works in partnership with civil society and seeks advice, collaboration and constructive challenge to deliver Scotland’s Open Government action plan. Government officials will share information publicly about action plan creation, delivery and implementation.

The Independent Reporting Mechanism provides external, objective and evidence-based reporting to hold OGP members accountable. All OGP members are required to subject their work to an Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM).

The IRM produces reports that assess the design and implementation of the commitments adopted by OGP participating governments in their country action plans.

The IRM also looks at how commitments can become more ambitious, impactful and collaborative throughout the process.

Scotland’s IRM 2018 to 2020: Andy McDevitt

Scotland’s IRM 2021 to 2025 (co-creation report): Andy McDevitt

How you can get involved

Do you want to help create opportunities for people to influence and have ownership over decisions that will impact them?

Using an open government approach has shown to make governments more responsive and accountable to commitments they have agreed to.

You can get involved in a number of different ways:

You can support in the direction and delivery of the action plan by becoming a member of Scotland’s Civil Society committee.

What does this look like? You will regularly meet with the committee to discuss where the action plan could improve and these ideas and reflections will be fed into the Scotland’s Open Government Steering group committee. Here they will be discussed, considered and, if agreed, implemented.

You can support in delivering the action plan by becoming a Commitment Lead or member.

What does this look like? You will directly support in overseeing and steering the direction of an Open Government Commitment. You will work closely with a team at Scottish Government to deliver a commitment you are interested or have expertise in. You will work in collaboration to deliver a set of activities that are outlined under a Commitment in the Action Plan.

You can engage and be an interested, active member of the network.

What does this look like? Scotland’s Open Government network is a space to share your ideas, and for others to support in debating, deliberating and co-creating solutions around open government themes of transparency, accountability, inclusivity and public participation.

You can directly query governmental processes, comment on the progress and direction of Scotland’s Open Government Action Plan, or post your ideas on what you would like to see or how you think things could be done differently.

Or you can simply like other posts you agree with, or follow updates or attend events shared on the network.

Your engagement will impact and strengthen Scotland’s approach to decision making, and support in making policy and services right the first time round.

Find out more and keep up to date about progress of Open Government Action plans in Scotland

OGP Global Summit 2023 – Telliskivi Creative City, Tallinn, Estonia

As the OGP forum and movement is driven by international learning, knowledge sharing and open dialogue across countries and localities, OGP holds regular Summits to bring together member governments and civil society representatives at a large scale event.

The theme for the Global Summit 2023 was to promote how cutting-edge digital governance, combined with the open government values of transparency, accountability, and participation, can renew democracy, build more trusted governance and fight back against autocratic threats.

Over 2,000 attendees participated at the Global Summit 2023 from 83 national delegations along with local delegations from 39 countries.

The Scottish delegation involved government and civil society representatives attending the two day event. The Summits provide an opportunity for attendees to exchange and learn from experiences, good practice, and progress on open government initiatives and implementation globally.

Summit Day 1

  • Opening plenary
  • Digital Governance: The Way Forward Towards Trust and Openness (2:09:02)
  • The Role of Open Government for Ukraine’s Democratic Resilience and Reconstruction (3:27:40)
  • People-Centered Justice in a Time of Intersecting Crises: From Commitment to Action (5:02:37)
  • Shaping Tomorrow’s Citizens: The Role of Infotechnology and Education in Promoting Democratic Values (6:30:04)
  • Building Resilience Through Open Government Partnership – a Dream or a Reality? (8:00:51)

Summit Day 2

  • Strengthening Environmental Democracy Through Protection and Participation of Environmental Defenders (Scottish Government’s Minister for Community Wealth and Public Finance was a speaker on this panel event)
  • Building and Protecting Civil Society Resilience in Times of Democratic Transition (1:51:24)
  • Openness and Oversight Under Pressure: Lessons for National Security and Democratic Resilience (3:18:18)
  • Connecting Global to Country Action to Fight Transnational Corruption: How Can Beneficial Ownership Transparency Drive Change? (4:49:23)
  • State in a Smartphone: The Future of Digital Government (6:18:47)
  • Closing plenary (7:54:03)