OGN Papers 3rd May 2018

UK consultation ideas from Discuto platform

45. Regular transparency data for ambassador meetings

There are occassionally reports of UK officials lobbying on behalf of UK companies in developing countries, in ways that appear to work against the interests of people in those countries, for example https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/sep/09/british-diplomat-lobbied-big-tobacco-bat-bangladesh-unpaid-vat. These may be the same people that the UK is trying to assist through its aid policies. However, it is hard to know how prevalent this issue is as data on meetings of UK ambassadors / high commissioners is not routinely published, and so issues only tend to be uncovered through targeted FOI requests (which assumes there is some knowledge of the issue to be targeted).

A solution to this would be for regular transparency data to be reported for these meetings, in a similar way as is done for ministerial meetings. The scope of regular reporting could potentially be limited to certain countries and/or to meetings with representatives of UK controlled companies.

Additional Comments: Any even then some recent requests have been refused based on a number of exemptions

44. Search inside government datasets

The Government publishes its datasets on data.gov.uk. However, one current major limitation is that this service does not allow you to search inside datasets (i.e. CSV or XLSX files). For example, if you wanted to find all datasets that contained the text “Deloitte” or “Nigeria”, then there is no simple way of doing this unless you know the specific datasets you are after. The response I got from GDS when I asked about this last year was.

“the search on data.gov.uk only looks at the title and descriptions of datasets, and not inside the actual data file itself. …This is obviously a limitation to our current search function – but not one that would be simple to fix, since data.gov.uk doesn’t actually host data files, just links to them…. I’m afraid it’s not something that’s on our roadmap at the moment as it’s technically quite complex. ”

However, I am not sure that it is *that* complex to build such a search function to do this (I have been told it is quite easy to write a python script to do something similar) and it would be of significant benefit in uncovering useful information, particularly if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for.

43. Enacting section 106 of the Equality Act 2010: publishing data on the diversity of candidates and elected representatives.

There is a lack of information published around the diversity of candidates and elected representatives. It is vitally important that this information is publicly available to allow us to monitor progress and identify areas where representation needs to be improved.

As such we would like to see a Government commitment to the enactment of section 106 of the Equality Act 2010.

This would cover the publication of information pertaining to candidates selected for an election by each political party, candidates successfully elected and those that fail to be elected. This should include elections to the UK Parliament as well as to devolved administrations across the UK.

We would further urge UK Government to consider extending the requirement for information on selection and election to local government elections (including combined authority mayoral candidates) and putting a duty on local authorities to publish this information, ideally by the local elections in 2019.

Electoral Reform Society
Fawcett Society
Helen Pankhurst

42. A national register of corporate convictions and fines

A national register of corporate convictions and regulatory fines

What is your idea?
In order to improve information available to public authorities, helping them to make informed and accurate decisions about how to contract with responsible companies, the government should create a publicly accessible national register of companies that have received a conviction, regulatory fine, ruling, remedial order or other relevant adverse finding in relation to economic crimes, social, labour and environmental laws and professional conduct. This would support the development of consistent practice across the public sector and support contracting authorities in their interpretation and application of Reg. 57 of the 2015 Public Contracts Regulations.

Why is it important?
Currently, there is no centralised information about companies that have been convicted, subject to regulatory action in the UK, or that have been excluded by other public authorities. Under thePublic Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCR 2015), companies must be debarred from bidding for public contracts if they have been found guilty of corruption, fraud, money laundering, modern slavery, tax evasion, terrorist offences, child labour or human trafficking (reg.57(1) PCR 2015) subject to self-cleaning provisions (reg.57 (13) PCR 2015). Additionally, companies may be excluded from bidding for public contracts where they have violated environmental, social and labour laws, engaged in anti-competitive behaviour, grave professional misconduct or conflicts of interest, as well as if they have failed to meet previous contractual obligations (reg.57(8) PCR 2015). Contracting authorities are also under an obligation to terminate any contracts with companies that should have been debarred due to a mandatory exclusion ground (reg.73(1)(b) in relation to reg 57(1) PCR 2015). It is thus crucial for contracting authorities not to enter into contracts with debarred suppliers.

However, it is often impossible for contracting authorities to know and verify whether companies have engaged in any of these activities because of the absence of centralised information. Individual public bodies that have put out a contract for tender must expend considerable time and effort to check whether or not bidding companies have past, relevant adverse findings against them, including convictions and there is no guarantee that this process will yield accurate results. For instance, conviction records in the Police National Computer do not automatically include convictions secured by the UK Serious Fraud Office, which prosecutes the largest and most complex economic crime cases. While this could be fixed relatively easily, a public register that encompasses more than convictions is necessary to ensure consistency in the application of the PCR 2015, and enables public authorities to access a wide range of information quickly and easily.
A centralised register would make procurement decisions more efficient thus saving resources. Additionally, the register would help meet the UK Anti-Corruption Summit commitment of excluding corrupt bidders from public procurement.

How would it work?
The proposal is relatively straightforward, and could be implemented with minimal cost. The database would be maintained by a central authority. Public prosecutors in the UK, including the Crown Prosecution Service, Serious Fraud Office, Financial Conduct Authority, HMRC, the Health and Safety Executive, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and all other industry regulators, would be obliged to send the central body details of any action, regulatory or criminal taken against companies in the past five years for relevant behaviour under article 57 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015. Additionally, public authorities that have excluded companies based on any of the grounds under article 57 of the PCR would be required to notify the central authority and the exclusion would be registered in the database. This would help to ensure consistency across public authorities.

It should be noted that in the US a national register of convicted companies is already in place, and Germany is looking to introduce a similar system.

In March 2012 the OECD’s Working Group on Bribery recommended that the UK establish a national debarment register in order to allow a systematic approach to excluding corrupt companies from public procurement. The recommendation remains unimplemented

41. Ensuring open justice in the digital age

1. What is your idea?
UK authorities should ensure that more court data, including court documents and court lists, are available to the public online.

2. Why is it important?
Open justice, the general rule that the administration of justice should be done in public, is uncontroversial and widely supported. It brings a number of significant benefits, including: public scrutiny and accountability of courts and judges; public confidence in the justice system; and increases the deterrent effect of court sanctions. An open court system also puts pressure on witnesses to tell the truth and allows the public to find out about instances of major corruption, fraud and wrongdoing.

However, despite this, the court system of England and Wales can feel opaque and bureaucratic even for experienced investigative journalists.

Court lists, which detail when and where hearings take place, generally contain so few details that some key cases of significant public interest, including entire trials, are going largely unnoticed by the public and media. Court documents, which are necessary for members of the public to understand complex legal proceedings, are also very difficult to access without the payment of fees, multiple trips to the court, and in many cases litigation. To add, court transcription services are prohibitively expensive, costing upwards of £20,000 for a three-week trial.

3. How would it work?
The government is currently undertaking £1 billion reform programme to modernise the court system, largely through the introduction of new digital technologies. This digital modernisation programme offers a number of opportunities for open justice:

a. The government should make it mandatory for courts to publish judgments online unless there are strong countervailing reasons against doing so. This is particularly important as much of the case law, which lies at the heart of our common law system, is currently inaccessible without the payment of a prohibitively expensive transcription fee.

b. HMCTS should ensure that key court documents are readily and publicly accessible online. As a general rule, this should include in civil cases: skeleton arguments and ‘statements of case’, such as the claim form, particulars of claim and defence. In criminal cases, this should include: opening statements, a copy of the judge’s summing up, sentencing remarks and basis of plea. It should be noted that an online system for court document access is already available for the Rolls Building in London, but similar provisions are not available for the rest of the court system.

c. The provision of public online listings for all courts (at present, there are no online lists for magistrates’ courts). Online lists should be published well in advance of hearings (at present, court lists are provided less than 24 hours before a given hearing/trial). Lists should give more detail than presently provided so that members of the public can make an informed decision about whether to attend a hearing, including the names of both parties and charges in a given case.

d. If a court transcript is purchased, then this should subsequently be published online and made publicly available. This system is already in use in the US where transcripts from district and bankruptcy courts are published online following purchase. More broadly, the government should carry out a review of the current costly court transcription system, which is provided by six private companies that claim copyright over transcripts. The review should look at the possibility of relaxing rules preventing recording devices being used by members of the public in court.

Additional Comments:
Margot Gibbs – The lack of information and high cost of court documents is a key challenge in my job as an investigative reporter. An improved system would transform my ability to report corruption.
Rahul Rose – This proposal draws from civil society organisation Corruption Watch’s experience monitoring civil and criminal hearings and trials in England. https://www.cw-uk.org/

40. Ensuring loans given under UK law to other governments are transparent

Jubilee Debt Campaign has been developing proposals to incentivise transparency of loans to governments. This follows recent revelations, including in Mozambique and the Republic of Congo, of loans with government guarantees that were largely kept secret. We hope that incentivizing transparency of loans to governments would be useful both for market participants and the parliaments, media and people of the country concerned, and support in the wider effort to make governments more open. A motion in support of measures to increase transparency has been signed by 99 MPs in the UK parliament, and we are also discussing this with colleagues in New York. Almost 100% of government debts contracted under a law other than that of the borrowing state are in UK or New York law, so these are the two key jurisdictions.

Our proposal is that for a debt contract to be enforced under UK (or New York) law it would have to be publicly disclosed on a register at the time it is given. This would incentivise disclosure because the debt would be worth less, and less easy to be sold on, if it could not be enforced in the case of a debt default.

Intermediate steps towards this desired outcome would be the creation of a registry of loans to governments in an international body such as the IMF or UNCTAD, and a commitment by the G20 and/or UN Financing for Development process to work towards increasing transparency of loans to, and borrowing by, governments.

39. Making UK aid transparent (effective and accountable) across Government

The UK Government committed that all government departments should score ’good’ or ‘very good’ in the Aid Transparency Index (the Index) by 2020 (UK Aid Strategy, 2015). Publish What You Fund has produced the Index since 2011 to monitor and encourage progress in aid transparency.

Transparency enables the assessment of and accountability for how well DFID, other government departments (OGDs) and cross-government funds target Overseas Development Aid (ODA). Moreover, transparency in how aid is allocated and spent is the first step to ensuring that aid is publicly accountable and its effectiveness can be evaluated.

For ODA information to be transparent, departments allocating or disbursing aid must publish timely, comprehensive, disaggregated, forward-looking aid and development information in an open and comparable format.

In light of the increasing proportion of ODA disbursements being channelled through OGDs, this is a welcome commitment. In the fourth NAP, therefore, we would like to see this commitment to improve aid transparency by 2020 reinforced.

Moreover, if the UK Government is to meet this commitment, all OGDs must take steps to make their aid more transparent:

Where transparency has been measured previously, notably the Foreign & Commonwealth office (FCO) and Ministry of Defence (MOD) featured in the 2014 Index, the results were disappointing. The remaining OGDs and cross-government funds that UK government departments operate, such as the Prosperity Fund and the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF), have disclosed very little information on their operations to date.

All OGDs should be called upon to publish strategies as soon as possible setting out how their departments and, where relevant, any cross government funds they operate will achieve ’good’ or ’very good’ transparency rankings. These could be linked to broader disclosure policies and should contain specific timelines and delivery targets.
Inclusion of this commitment in the fourth NAP will help to ensure that all government departments prioritise the action needed to meet this commitment.

38. Ending Modern Slavery & Exploitation in UK Public Body Supply Chains

The small print on this idea is: Empowering Civil Society & Civil Economy Data Custodians to increase transparency in UK Public Body Supply Chains

As an open data b-corp social enterprise, we’ve found it challenging to deliver on our promise to administer supply chain transparency provision in the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 (section 54) because there is no easy way for Government departments to engage with non-government open data registers like ours (https://tiscreport.org). This is not an uncommon problem and has been encountered by many other open data initiatives. In order to accelerate progress and amplify impact on public-private-NFP data collaborations it would be good to find a way to certify trusted non-government data sources. This would give the market confidence to engage and would reduce the need to Government intervention. I just wish I could think of a catchier title…

37. Government to share all grants made by central departments and local authorities as open data

The third UK National Action Plan included a commitment to collect more granular data on grantmaking in line with the 360Giving Standard and to share more granular data at scheme and award level (commitment 6). As of March 2018, two departments have started publishing their grants in line with the 360Giving Standard – the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Transport.

In the fourth NAP, we would like to see a commitment that all the data that was collected in line with the 360Giving Standard is now released for all central government departments. This data should include the recipient organisation – so its possible for citizens to see which organisations have received government grants, when, how much and what for. By releasing this data in the 360Giving Standard, it will be possible to compare the data with that from other grantmakers, including the lottery funders, charitable trusts and foundations and local authorities. This will allow people to see the grantmaking chain from end to end.

In addition, we would expect to see unique identifiers included in this data, as per the goverment’s Anti-Corruption Strategy 2017-2022 (see para 4.6): https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/667221/6_3323_Anti-Corruption_Strategy_WEB.pdf

36. Maintain natural resource transparency momentum

What is the idea?
The UK will maintain momentum on natural resource transparency at home and abroad by: (1) developing a requirement for extractive and trading companies to report payments to governments for the sale of oil, gas and minerals (commodity trading) as part of the UK mandatory reporting regime; (2) clarifying the content and format of mandatory payments to governments reporting required from UK-incorporated and UK-listed extractive companies; (3) creating a single open data repository for mandatory payments reports by UK-incorporated and UK-listed extractive companies; (4) extending the mandatory reporting regime to extractive companies traded on the AIM market; and (5) arranging for the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies to introduce equivalent mandatory reporting standards.

Why is this important?
Corruption and fiscal mismanagement in the international natural resources (oil, gas and mining) sector have long been a major concern for governments, extractive companies, investors and civil society. The UK and other countries have achieved good progress in promoting natural resource transparency and accountability over the last 15 years, through both voluntary reporting under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and mandatory reporting rules now in force in the UK, across the EU, in Canada and in Norway, and awaiting implementation in the United States. But significant gaps remain in the scope and coverage of extractive companies’ disclosures of payments to governments and in the clarity and accessibility of the disclosed data.

This proposal would address five key weaknesses of the current mandatory payments reporting regime:
(1) The largest payment stream missing from mandatory disclosure is payments to governments for the sale of oil, gas and minerals (commodity trading), an area where corruption risk is acute. Governments’ and state owned enterprises’ sales of the state’s production share in the extractive industries are huge, typically US$ billions per year, and vulnerable to large-scale abuse. From 2011 to 2013, for example, the total value of sales by the national oil companies of Africa’s 10 top oil producers was equal to 56% of their combined government revenues and more than 10 times international aid to these countries. At company level, total payments to governments for oil and gas by Trafigura – the only company that currently voluntarily discloses commodity trading payments – amounted to US$21.2 billion in 2016, significantly more than the US$15.1 billion disclosed by Royal Dutch Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, as total payments for its oil and gas extraction around the world in the same year.

(2) Extractive company reporting under UK transparency rules currently suffers from several deficiencies that clarification of the disclosures’ content and format of would ameliorate: (a) non-inclusion by at least 7 companies of their share of joint venture payments; (b) over-aggregation of projects by at least 7 companies; (c) non-identification of recipient government entities by at least 25 companies; (d) lack of volume data for, and over-aggregation of, in-kind payments by at least 4 companies; (e) failure of UK-listed extractive companies to report under revised requirements for financial year 2017 in both open machine-readable data and “human readable” format (the one company that has so far reported under the new requirements failed to provide open data).

(3) Accessibility issues impair stakeholders’ location and use of extractive companies’ UK disclosures. UK-incorporated companies report via a dedicated Companies House portal that provides no alphabetised index of reports. For UK-listed companies it can be even more difficult to find disclosures on the UK’s National Storage Mechanism (NSM), hosted by Morningstar. The NSM includes several hundred thousand company announcements on many subjects each year but has no dedicated index page for extractives disclosures and (unlike the Companies House portal) no Application Programming Interface (API) where users can gather disclosed data digitally.

(4) About 200 oil, gas and mining companies raise finance on the London Stock Exchange’s secondary AIM market, which is currently exempt from the UK payment disclosure rules. As a leading international growth market, AIM needs an appropriate level of payment transparency for its extractive companies.

(5) The UK together with its Overseas Territories (OTs) and Crown Dependencies (CDs) constitutes one of the world’s leading financial secrecy jurisdictions (see Tax Justice Network, Financial Secrecy Index 2018). Numerous extractive companies are incorporated in the OTs and CDs and currently not subject to payment disclosure rules in those jurisdictions. Similarly, the International Stock Exchange Group, based in the CDs, does not currently require listed extractive companies to report their payments to governments, creating a risk of “forum-shopping” by companies seeking to avoid application of the UK and EU rules.

How would it work?
The UK Government would take forward the five above elements individually and in parallel.

(1) Build on its commitment in the third National Action Plan, and on UK-led discussions at OECD level, by introducing a new mandatory reporting requirement for UK-incorporated and UK-listed extractive and trading companies to report payments to governments for the sale of oil, gas and minerals (commodity trading) under the Reports on Payments to Governments Regulations 2014.

(2) Introduce clarificatory guidance from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for the Reports on Payments to Governments Regulations 2014 requiring companies to: (a) report their proportionate share of joint venture payments made either directly or indirectly on their behalf by a joint venture operator or other entity, including any payments to state owned enterprises acting as joint venture operator; (b) aggregate two or more project agreements for reporting purposes only where these agreements (i) are both operationally and geographically integrated, (ii) have substantially similar terms and (iii) are signed with the same government; (c) identify by name each national or subnational government entity to which a payment has been made, rather than provide only the country name or only identify the level of government generically; (d) state both the value and the volume of each in-kind (non-cash) payment reported and avoid aggregating in a single figure cash and in-kind payments, or in-kind payments for different commodities. (e) For UK-listed extractive companies, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) would clarify under the Disclosure Guidance and Transparency Rules that transparency disclosures are required to be in both open machine-readable data format and “human readable” format.

(3) Companies House, the FCA and the NSM/Morningstar would create a single joint open data repository for mandatory payments reports by UK-incorporated and UK-listed extractive companies, equipped with an Application Programming Interface (API) where users can gather disclosed data digitally.

(4) The FCA would work with the London Stock Exchange to incorporatemandatory reporting of payments to governments as a requirement for AIM-traded extractive companies, updating AIM’s current Note for Mining, Oil and Gas Companies (2009) accordingly.

(5) The UK Government would open a dialogue with the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies about introducing mandatory public disclosure rules for their registered and publicly listed extractive companies, and if necessary after a reasonable passage of time introduce legislation requiring them to implement such rules.

Additional Comments:
This is a very important issue with minerals. Huge sums are being stolen from poor people through a variety of unfair arrangements. Mandatory reporting for the full supply chain is critical. Rahulbasu
We strongly support this action plans being commitment of UK in the OGP NAPs. Many oil and gas, and mineral companies which operated in Indonesia are listed in UK’s and also connected to trade market such us LME. Transparency in commodity trading of UK will links and valuable advance transparency and anti-corruption reform that pushing in Nat.Resources rich countries such us Indonesia and other host countries. And of course it would help local community and domestic stakeholder to using those data in advance level of disaggregations for meaningful transparency and accountability. In the globally, hope this UK NAPs will inspire other OGP member countries to do the same commitment. Maryati Abdullah, OGP Envoy; PWYP Indonesia National Coordinator.
PWYP Australia supports the actions outlined within this commitment, and would welcome the inclusion of this commitment within the next UK OGP NAP. In lieu of any similar reporting requirement in Australia, the UK disclosures are the sole place Australian civil society can access project level data by UK listed companies operating in Australia. Enhancing these disclosures with the inclusion of commodity trading, extending the requirement to AIM, and streamlining the disclosures into a central repository would assist Australia, and all civil society globally where UK listed extractives companies are operating, to make use of the data in their communities and increase transparency and accountability at the local level. Jessie Cato – PWYP Australia National Coordinator

35. Transparency over assets frozen, seized or confiscated

UK authorities should publish clear data on an annual basis about assets linked to grand corruption that have been frozen, seized or confiscated in the UK, and assets that have been repatriated. The UK should also consider developing a public national database of asset recovery relating to grand corruption

34. Improve the process of collecting, storing and publishing the Commons’ Register of Members’ Financial Interests (RMFI) so it can be accessed and analysed as structured open data

Why is it important?
MPs are required to publish the details of their financial interests in order to make transparent anything that “might reasonably be thought by others to influence a Members’ actions, speeches or votes in Parliament, or actions taken in his or her capacity as a Member of Parliament”. This transparency is intended to protect against conflicts of interest or undue influence that might result in members putting their private interests over those of the public’s.

At the moment the Commons’ Register of Members’ Financial Interests (RMFI) is not collected, stored or published as structured open data. This means:
• Members are at increased risk of technical non-compliance with the rules e.g. forgetting to include the dates for outside employment, because the process by which this information is collected allows them to omit these details.
• It is extremely time-consuming to collect and analyse potential conflicts of interest or undue influence, which is the intention of the register. For example, it could take weeks to collect and analyse trips paid for by a secretive lobby group connected to a hostile government over time. If this was collected, stored and published as structured open data this kind of question should be answerable in seconds.
• It is extremely time-consuming for constituents to understand anything regarding the aggregation of their MPs’ financial interests. This inhibits constituents’ ability to hold their MP to account. For example, it could take weeks for a constituent to collect and tally how much time their MP spends on outside employment, or how much they earn from second jobs. If this was collected, stored and published as structured open data this kind of question should be answerable in seconds.

How would it work?
This is about improving Parliament’s processes and data storage and would require no legislative change. Broadly, it would involve:
• Mapping-out a data model for the RMFI and checking it with the relevant clerks to ensure it accurately reflects the Code of Conduct for MPs
• Consulting users to understand their needs when entering MPs’ financial interests
• Developing and user-testing the new system
• Providing a programme of advice and guidance ahead of a full roll-out
• Full roll-out
• Post-implementation evaluation and improvement

33. Open Contracting for Local Government

This idea was developed by participants in the Bristol workshop. As it also relates closely to ideas on open contracting (ideas 31 and 6), these will be considered all together.

What is the idea?
-> Support expansion of Open Contracting rules to local government
-Scoping study support fund on local contracting (e.g. in 10 UK cities)
-Improved national metrics
-Empowering the Information Commissioner’s Office
-Extending FOI for contractors
-Improved model contract clauses

Why is it important?
To build on existing commitments related to open contracting from previous action plans.
There are more details here: http://www.timdavies.org.uk/2018/02/02/where-next-for-open-contracting-in-the-uk

Additional Comments:
John Kellas – Is there capacity for someone to synthesize the following ideas into one ‘idea’:
33 Open Contracting for Local Government
31 Opening up and improving local govt contracting
6 Promote Public Participation in contracting
?

32. Open Local Govt Budgets

This idea was developed by participants in Huddersfield workshop at #NotWestminster.

What is the idea?
– Create tools for local councils to produce budgets in transparent and comparable manner.
– More accessible budget (visualisations, jargon-less language)
– Budget meetings (in person meetings to explain budgets to citizens)
– Independent impact assessments, scrutiny reports

Why is it important?
It is hard to understand and engage with local council budgets. They are on pdfs, not in comparable across councils, there is little information about how budgets are spent, or where the money is dedicated (other than top line categories).

31. Opening up and improving local govt contracting

This idea was developed by participants in the Birmingham workshop. As it also relates closely to ideas on open contracting (ideas 33 and 6), these will be considered all together.

What is the idea?
-> Open by default contracting procedures
-> Develop Contracting Openness Measure and Ranking to gauge the transparency of a supplier therefore more transparent suppliers should be preferred.
-> Value the triple bottom line (Community & environment benefit / community / environment cost) (see: http://www.economist.com/node/14301663https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_bottom_line)
-> introduce citizen engagement to the contracting process.

Why is it important?
It is important that procurement processes have principles of data driven, open reporting, and open decision making at its core. As such they should be open by default, unless special reasons not to do so. Triple bottom line would ensure that the value of a contract is not only measured financially, but also according to local or community impact and environmental impact etc. This makes is a more rounded procurement process and better impact. Also need to ensure designing services so that the problem to be solved is actually solved effectively. Public contractor would adhere to open principles in public realm contracts- at both local and national level.

This will help to develop accountability.
It will increase the utilization of expenditure so it is not sucked out of local economies.
It will help to challenge poor practice.
It will ensure a more engaged system.
It will help to develop community and local economy.

Additional Comments:
Sjm – For reference: Open Contracting Data Standard (2014) – A global non-proprietary standard structured to reflect the complete contracting cycle

Home


http://standard.open-contracting.org/latest/en/
John Kellas – Is there capacity for someone to synthesize the following ideas into one ‘idea’:
33 Open Contracting for Local Government
31 Opening up and improving local govt contracting
6 Promote Public Participation in contracting
?

30. Justifications for classified documents

This idea was developed by participants in the Sheffield workshop.

What is the idea?
-> The classification of documents to restrict FOI publication must have detailed justifications.

Why is it important?
It needs to be easier for officials to publish information when requested without Ministerial interference. The aim is to reduce the scope for over-controlling the flow of data/information for political reasons, to the public sphere.

Additional Comments
Maurice Frankel – Classification has nothing to do with FOI disclosure.
The fact that a document is classified does not prevent disclosure under FOI. That depends on whether disclosure _at the time of the request_ would prejudice interests such as defence, international relations or law enforcement.
Classification only shows that _at the time of classification_ (which may have been decades earlier) a document contained some sensitive information. It does not meant that it is exempt at the time of a request, and the question of assessment is considered afresh at that time.

29. Transparency around public consultation data

This idea was developed by participants at the Leeds workshop.

What is the idea?
-> Demographic data of contributors to local consultation processes should be proactively published along with feedback. This would accompany government recommendations on how to improve next time.

Why is it important?
It is important there are alternative, critical voices present at consultation processes (not just the same faces). Local government should do more to demonstrate working with local communities, businesses, and citizens in general, in decision making processes. This will help ensure more effective engagement, and civic renewal. It should lead to better decision making overall.

28. FOI Act should cover Public Service Providers

This idea was developed by participants in the Manchester workshop

What is the idea?
-> Extend FOI rules to suppliers of procurement tenders.
-> Extend the model transparency clause

Why is it important?
It will make private contractors which deliver public services more accountable If private contractors are receiving public money for public service provision, they should be subject to the same transparency rules as a publically run public service. Transparency rules should be an obligation as part of their contracts and be a condition that private companies must accept.

Additional Comments:
Maurice Frankel – The language (‘FOI rules’, ‘procurement tenders’, ‘transparency rules’) needs a bit of tweaking.

27. Public Service Provider Accountability

This idea was developed by participants at the Manchester workshop.

What is the idea?
-> All outsourced services at local or national level should be easy to identify and should somewhere explain how they are delivering the service (goals/objectives of contract should be clearly communicated)
-> Mechanisms to enable citizen-service provider dialogue
-> There needs to be a register of service providers which has a clear identification system and data that is comparable.

Why is this important?
There needs to be clear accountability mechanisms in place, which start with transparency, for private contractors for the decisions they make which affect public service provision. All mechanisms for dialogue between private companies delivering public services, and the public should be clearly available and easy to engage in/use. There needs to be greater accountability over who is responsible for when contracts are not fully met.

26. Follow the money (budget and spending audit)

This idea was developed by participants in the Bristol workshop.

What is the idea?
-> Produce national budget-spend audit trail to follow the money spent by government
-> All budget spending should have a unique identifier that is transmitted to all objects relating to spending so that a complete trail can be made between budget commitment and amount spent.

Why is it important?
Government promises it spends millions on certain projects, but there is no way to follow this. This can help to show where national government projects are fed (or not) through to local government for implementation/spending of this money.

25. Open Local Council Meetings

This ideas was developed by participants in the Manchester and Leeds workshops.

What is the idea?
-> Local government meetings must be accessible and open

Why is it important?
Currently, local government meetings (Manchester Combined Authority) are held in secret/behind closed doors, so it is not possible to follow discussion or decision making. Meetings could be livestreamed. Meetings where decisions are made, should be open for the public and media to follow. Full transparency of those discussions. Meetings should be made accessible for the public – language, various channels of communication, proximity/geography of meetings to communities. Should increase use of technology.

24. Proactive publication of research being commissioned by govermnment

This idea was developed by participants in the Bristol workshop.

What is the idea?
Secure the publication of a register of all research being commissioned (internally or externally) by local/national government

Why is it important?
Reduce overlap, let the public decide what is valuable, hold the administration to account for research commissioned, and to it’s (in)action.

23. Consultations and feedback

This idea was developed by participants in the Leeds workshop

What is the idea?
-> Consultation feedback mechanism
-> Policy decisions must feature consultation (which enable informed contributions) and feedback

Why is it important?
People need to know exactly how their participation in consultation processes are valued. People should be given the context and clear information that can enable an informed contribution to consultations which are then of greater value to decision makers. Demonstrable evidence that local government have worked with local communities, business and citizens in decision making.

22. Community cohesion plans

This idea was developed by participants in the Sheffield workshop.

What is the idea?
-> Community cohesion plans organised by local community/ies
Enable people to own the agenda and the issues that affect them. They need to be meaningfully engaged and given the tools that can empower them so that they can participate and solve problems that affect them (in a bottom-up approach rather than top-down).

Why is it important?
Need to avoid top-down problem-solving of community problems, and instead instigate a system where local communities are empowered.
A critical requirement to ensure joined-up thinking and reduce wasting valuable time of volunteers.

21. Open Source Government / Open Source Civic Stack

This idea was developed by participants in the Birmingham and Bristol workshops.

What is the idea?
– Develop and enforce an Open Source standard for local and national government
– Produce an Open Source Civic Stack (a mechanism to check what already exists)
– Develop civic commons licensing framework

Why is it important?
To reduce the duplication of costs for softwares and systems that already exist in other areas of government. There should be a requirement that no new procurement is carried out if appropriate softwares/solutions already exist and are in use by government. New focus on Open Source softwares in order to reduce proprietary control over softwares used by government. This is particularly related to procurement of services and softwares by government.

Background info
Current Gov Open Standards policy: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/open-standards-for-government-data-and-technology
Current Open Source guidance: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/be-open-and-use-open-source
See ‘Public Money, Public Code’ campaign here, presenting the case for open source: https://publiccode.eu/ – this is current and active

20. Increase the transparency of surveillance

This idea was originally developed by civil society for the 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan, but did not result in a government commitment. It is being resubmitted for consideration for the 2018-2020 action plan.

Increase the transparency of surveillance activities to improve accountability and secure public trust.

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed
At all levels of government, surveillance tools are used without giving the public adequate information about the surveillance in place, the benefits it brings, and the rights of citizens with respect to it.

Main Objective
• Establishing principles for transparency when national security agencies, police forces, local authorities and other government bodies use surveillance tools;
• Promoting clear principles for both public and private sector transparency with respect to any activities that surveil, track and profile citizens (e.g. use of CCTV, online tracking, facial recognition tools);
• Increasing the open reporting of national security surveillance activity whenever doing so would not threaten ongoing operations;
• Re-examine the use of secret courts and proceedings, with a public debate about the balance of risks to safety, and risks to democratic freedoms, that these create;
• Improve the independent scrutiny of those aspects of the secret state which cannot be made transparent;
Relevance
• The UK is one of the most CCTV surveilled countries in the world. The surveillance commissioner has recently argued that we need greater transparency about the use of CCTV, including body worn CCTV cameras.
• Edward Snowden’s revelations have shown the extent of mass-surveillance by the UK Government and it’s allies.
• Secret courts processing surveillance gathered materials threaten to undermine basic principles of open justice.
• At the London Open Government Partnership Summit in 2013, Aruna Roy put the issue of Surveillance on the agenda with questions to William Hague and John Kerry: highlighting the need for us to not bracket out ‘issues of national security’, but to think about how surveillance also need to be critically examined within the open government landscape.
• Open government and democratic freedoms are threatened by the inbalance of power brought about by the widespread deployment of surveillance technologies. The OGP needs to address these issues, and a space is needed for a positive, constructive dialogue about getting a better line drawn between between secrecy for security, and transparency for accountability.
Ambition
• A commitment to debate and action on sensitively applying principles of openness to surveillance at all levels of government will directly address one of the most important countervailing pressures against openness in our state.
• It will help to set the right boundaries between openness and secrecy, recognising that legitimate surveillance functions better when citizens have trust in the systems, and demonstrating the applicability of openness to this sector.

19. Introduce citizen centric data usage reports

This idea was originally developed by civil society for the 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan, but did not result in a government commitment. It is being resubmitted for consideration for the 2018-2020 action plan.

Provide all citizens with a report on how their individual level data has been used by government services.

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed
No citizen currently knows how Government has used their data.

Main Objective
When a citizen requests, for the services requested by a citizen, Digital Services should provide the citizen with a report on how their individual level data has been used by those services. All uses and flows of a citizen’s individual level data within and out of a department/body should be securely and sensitively collated, and made available to a citizen in a secure and confidential digital manner.

Implementation details are important, to avoid this becoming a dossier on citizens:
https://medconfidential.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/gov-data-usage-report-april-2015.pdf

What is a data usage report?

Every citizen should be able to see an individual “data bank statement” of how/where Government has used their record and why.

If you don’t know where your data has gone, there’s no way to know whether your wishes are being respected. And when there is a problem, there’s no way to know whether you were personally affected.

To assuage concerns, citizens must be able to understand precisely where their data has gone, and why, through citizen centric data usage reports. This will give the citizen the tools to understand/question inappropriate flows, and Government the ability to communicate directly with a citizen when there is a data incident that may, or more likely may not, impact them.

Relevance
While Data Release Registers provide necessary insight into where some data flows within Government, and are a large step to solving the problem, they do not provide an individual with any detail on whether their data was included in any item in the register.

“Bulk Personal Datasets” have been defined by Parliament as “large databases containing personal information about a wide range of people”. Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee in its 2015 report, ‘Privacy and Security: A modern and transparent legal framework‘, also concluded that as a Dataset of this type “may be highly intrusive and impacts upon large numbers of people, it is essential that it is tightly regulated”. Currently, the existence of such datasets is highly opaque.

When data incidents occur, and they will continue to do so, there is no simple message that can be given to citizens about what happened, and what they should do about it, that is individualised to them.

Ambition
Over time, no citizen’s data should be used by Government without them being able to understand why.

18. Publish departmental data release registers

This idea was originally developed by civil society for the 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan, but did not result in a government commitment. It is being resubmitted for consideration for the 2018-2020 action plan.

Provide a complete Data Release Register, listing all data flows of individual level in/between departments and other public bodies and why, readable by the public.

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed
There is no transparency on how and where Departments share individual level data as part of sharing of bulk personal datasets.

Main Objective
Provide a complete Data Release Register, listing all data flows of individual level in/between departments and other public bodies, readable by the public.

While initial Registers will be incomplete, due to Departments themselves not being aware of all data flows (some are annual or less often), the Register should be a complete-as-known list.
Departments currently have an unknown number and range of “bulk personal datasets” covering individuals, and share them in ways which are opaque to both the department, other departments, and the public.

Moving towards a comprehensive register of all bulk personal datasets, and the flows thereof, is a necessary prerequisite to understanding those flows, and raising public confidence in their use.

Relevance
In meetings, civil servants often complain that the public think that Departments/projects (should) share data far more than they actually do. Irrespective of the accuracy of that position, the civil service has demonstrated a fundamental gap in the evidence base for a public debate:

How does Government share data between bodies/departments, and on what basis?

Absent a comprehensive list, the debate on data sharing will be characterised by “trust us” from Government, scepticism from the public, and an increasing data trust deficit ever made worse by Government mistakes. Comprehensive and complete data release registers will begin to provide a knowledge base which can be read and the situation known, rather than bureaucratic weasel words which require trust that is routinely broken. Over time, Departments should assure completeness for stated time periods, and for any new flows to be added. The HSCIC already regularly publishes such a register for flows of individual level medical records.

The Open/Data community can then build tools on top of such registers for notification/analysis purposes, such as the Data Disclosure Standard.

Ambition
It is widely accepted that “data sharing” will rise in importance and volume.

Following the care.data fiasco in the Department of Health and NHS England, the HSCIC has for over a year published a “data release register” of what data leaves the organisation, where it goes, and why.

Every Department should follow their lead, and publish such a register.

17. Open up the court system to public scrutiny

This idea was originally developed by civil society for the 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan, but did not result in a government commitment. It is being resubmitted for consideration for the 2018-2020 action plan.

Open data of the daily case flow schedule and outcomes of their courts and tribunals

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed
Courts are the basis of justice, and justice must be seen to be done. The current court process is opaque.

Main Objective
The UK judiciary, magistracy and courts and tribunal service should make available as open data the daily case flow schedule and outcomes of their courts and tribunals. This would greatly increase transparency of the courts for the general public whom they serve.

It has been an established principle since the 17th Century that the courts should be open except in special circumstances but 19th Century working practices in fact make them highly opaque. Publication will also improve the efficiency of the courts in the delivery and administration of justice – where poor information is well understood to contribute to inefficiency and poor outcomes.
Data about the justice system has some special attributes not found in other areas, such as issues around contempt of court where reporting restrictions apply or juveniles are involved, or the 1974 Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and its concept of ‘spent offences’. However, these issues could easily be handled in a system that operates with a set of internal data standards – very similar to the way in which a public internet and a private secure intranet work on the same open data standards, but one is published and one is held securely.

Relevance
Justice being seen to be done is the foundation of democracy and the power of the state. The UK’s rankings in the openness assessments are extremely poor.

Ambition
The count process is transparent to citizens and supported by good information.

16. Enshrine Parliamentary Openness

This idea was originally developed by civil society for the 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan, but did not result in a government commitment. It is being resubmitted for consideration for the 2018-2020 action plan.

Formally adopt The Declaration of Parliamentary Openness.

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed
Enshrining openness at the heart of our parliaments.

Main Objective
The UK Parliament, Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly should formally adopt The Declaration of Parliamentary Openness.
This sets out 44 principles for advancing parliamentary openness, grouped under four headings:

Promoting a Culture of Openness:
Parliamentary information belongs to the public. Parliamentary information shall be able to be reused or republished by citizens with any limited restrictions narrowly defined by law. To enable a culture of parliamentary openness, parliament must enact measures to ensure inclusive citizen participation and a free civil society, enable effective parliamentary monitoring, and vigorously protect these rights through its oversight role. Parliament shall also ensure that citizens have legal recourse to enforce their right to access parliamentary information. Parliament has an affirmative duty to promote citizen understanding of parliamentary functioning and share good practices with other parliaments to increase openness and transparency. Parliament shall work collaboratively with PMOs and citizens to ensure that parliamentary information is complete, accurate, and timely.

Making Parliamentary Information Transparent:
Parliament shall adopt policies that ensure proactive publication of parliamentary information, and shall review these policies periodically to take advantage of evolving good practices. Parliamentary information includes information about parliament’s roles and functions, and information generated throughout the legislative process, including the text of introduced legislation and amendments, votes, the parliamentary agenda and schedule, records of plenary and committee proceedings, historical information, and all other information that forms a part of the parliamentary record, such as reports created for or by parliament. Parliament shall provide information on the management and administration of parliament, parliamentary staff, and comprehensive and detailed parliamentary budget information. Parliament shall provide information about the backgrounds, activities and affairs of members, including sufficient information for citizens to make informed judgments regarding their integrity and probity, and potential conflicts of interest.

Easing Access to Parliamentary Information:
Parliament shall ensure that information is broadly accessible to all citizens on a non-discriminatory basis through multiple channels, including first-person observation, print media, radio, and live and on-demand broadcasts and streaming. Physical access to parliament shall be provided to all citizens, subject to space and safety limitations, with clearly defined and publicly available policies for ensuring access by media and observers. Parliamentary information must also be available free of charge, in multiple national and working languages, and through tools, such as plain language summaries, that help ensure that parliamentary information is understandable to a broad range of citizens.

Enabling Electronic Communication of Parliamentary Information:
Parliamentary information shall be released online in open and structured formats that allow citizens to analyze and reuse this information using the full range of technology tools. Parliamentary information shall be linked to related information and be easily searchable, as well as downloadable in bulk to encourage the development of new technologies for its exploration. Parliamentary websites enable communication with citizens even in societies with limited Internet penetration, by facilitating information access to intermediaries, which can further disseminate the information to citizens. Parliamentary websites shall seek to use interactive tools to engage citizens and offer alert or mobile services. Parliament shall give preference to the use of non-proprietary formats, and free and open-source software. Parliament has a duty to ensure technological usability of parliamentary information, while guaranteeing the privacy for those accessing the information.

Relevance
Signing the declaration is a commitment to openness and transparency and therefore is a way to hold the parliament to account for its actions (or non-actions)

Ambition
The Declaration is only a document but recognising the commitments within are important for driving a cultural change within legislatures are they move towards being more open and focussed on serving the wider public as well as members.

15. Increase citizen involvement in the legislative process

This idea was originally developed by civil society for the 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan, but did not result in a government commitment. It is being resubmitted for consideration for the 2018-2020 action plan.

Open up parliament so more people can contribute.

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed
Bring citizens closer to the parliamentary process

Main Objective
The parliaments and assemblies of the UK should be encouraged to experiment with new ways that enable the public to contribute to the different stages of the parliamentary process. This would range from putting questions to ministers, addressing and commenting on committees and within the pre-legislative, legislative cycles and during post-legislative scrutiny. This can include further opportunities for remote hearings and public access to committees and debates and also the the use of digital tools to make parliament more accessible to the public who would otherwise find it difficult to physically attend.

Relevance
Those who take part in the parliamentary process shape the future, but all too often this is a narrow subset of the population and unrepresentative of the wider population. Digital tools allows our legislatures to step out beyond the chamber or committee room in new ways, whether it’s taking the parliament out to the people or allowing people to come to parliament through new digital channels, this is about strengthening democratic participation and rebuilding trust as much as it is about enhancing public accountability.

Ambition
More people will be able to contribute to what happens in their parliament, this helps legislations better reflect people’s lives and makes parliaments more transparent and accessible.

14. Make all parliamentary data freely available

This idea was originally developed by civil society for the 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan, but did not result in a government commitment. It is being resubmitted for consideration for the 2018-2020 action plan.

All parliamentary data to be freely available for the public to download and/or re-use.

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed
Parliamentary data is inconsistently available or not available at all.

Main Objective
The UK Parliament, Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly should make their data freely available and openly accessible to the public so that the public can download, re-use and re-share. This includes all documents, data, audio and video content.

No material should have its usage restricted through any unreasonable copyright restrictions and it is expected that at most the constraints would be Parliamentary Copyright (which allows for sharing and re-use).

Relevance
This addresses issues of civic participation and public accountability.

13. Include local governance and engagement frameworks as part of devolution deals

This idea was originally developed by civil society for the 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan, but did not result in a government commitment. It is being resubmitted for consideration for the 2018-2020 action plan.

Include local governance and engagement frameworks as part of devolution deals.

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed
Devolution will have a significant impact on the lives of people throughout England, initially in combined authority areas and as devolution arrangements spread wider. They present significant governance and scrutiny challenges and opportunities. The speed of devolution, among other factors, means not all authorities are sufficiently considering how to engage the public and overcome these challenges.

Main Objective
The objective is for Government to develop a framework to support applicant councils and nascent combined authorities to think through the governance and public engagement and involvement challenges presented by devolution. Formed of key questions councils and combined authorities need to address, satisfactory completion of the framework document – and thereby demonstration of plans to overcome the relevant challenges – would be a condition of a devolution deal. The framework would not be prescriptive about how each area should tackle each challenge, leaving each council and combined authority to develop solutions appropriate to their specific situation.

The framework document could cover areas from public involvement, to policy development and performance (how policy would be developed by a combined authority, how performance would be monitored, and how non-executives could be involved in these processes), partnership working, and the structures and resources to support these systems and arrangements.

Relevance
This commitment advances transparency, accountability and involvement by ensuring these values are considered and prioritised by local authorities as part of devolution deals, by providing a framework for local authorities to work through.

Ambition
The impact of this commitment is to ensure local authorities consider and prioritise transparency, accountability and involvement as part of devolution deals, by providing a framework for local authorities to work through.

12. Establish an Open Local Government Partnership

This idea was originally developed by civil society for the 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan, but did not result in a government commitment. It is being resubmitted for consideration for the 2018-2020 action plan.

Work with local authorities and civil society to scope out and develop an local open government partnership.

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed
Local government has always played an important role in UK democracy and public service provision, and that role is only becoming more important as greater powers are being devolved from central to local government. Local government is therefore an increasingly important focus for open government reform.

Pockets of good open government practice already exist across the country, but they are scattered and often restricted to specific projects or small teams and departments. There is currently no mechanism or incentive for spreading existing or supporting new innovations in openness in local government.

By adopting an Open Government Partnership model, open government practice can be developed and spread across local government.

Main Objective
The features and principles of the Open Government Partnership can be adapted and applied to local government in the UK, to help develop and spread open government practice and tackle the challenges being faced by local governments and communities.

An Open Local Government Partnership would need to be developed in collaboration by a wide range of stakeholders, including local authorities, national government, civil society organisations and citizens. Its features could include:
• Open and inclusive – The project could start by identifying a number of local authorities already interested in and/or making progress on aspects of open government, but it would be open to any local authority to join on the condition that they agree to a high level statement and commit to developing their own open government action plan. As such, the membership of the partnership would grow organically over time.
• Peer support – The partnership would work on the basis that there is already distributed practice of open government in local government, with organisations excelling in different areas. Some work could be conducted up front to scope out the different aspects of openness for local government to develop a number of illustrative commitments and collect together useful resources and examples. However, the focus of the partnership would be on the sharing of practice between members – building up an ever more detailed picture of what open government can mean for local government.
• Race to the top – The partnership would seek to instigate a race-to-the-top whereby local public organisations would compete with one another to be more “open”. Local authorities would be encouraged to sign up to commitments already pioneered by others, but also to develop new stretching commitments that set them apart from the rest.
• High level cover for reformers – The Open Local Government Partnership would become something that politicians and senior officials want their organisation to be associated with, providing high level buy-in for reformers within those organisations to implement open government reforms.
• Involves public organisations, civil society and SMEs – The partnership could be governed at a national level by representatives from participating local authorities, civil society and SMEs. Members would be required to develop and agree their commitments in partnership with local civil society and SMEs, and include them in the assessment of their progress.
• Independent and non-partisan – The partnership sould be managed by organisations independent from national government and any political party. Local councils invited to pioneer the project will be selected to include a spread across the main political parties.

For an open local government partnership to be adopted and be effective, it needs to be established and owned by local authorities. The open local government partnership idea is not prescriptive and the shape it might take is dependant on the aims and aspirations of the participating local authorities.

National government would:
1. Support the initial scoping and development of the idea by helping to convene relevant stakeholders
2. Develop links with the Open Government Partnership community and other relevant sub-national OGP initiatives
3. Showcase innovative developments under the umbrella of the UK’s membership of the OGP.
Relevance

This commitment furthers OGP values by extending the principles and process underlying the OGP to local government. It is particularly relevant at a time when the OGP is grappling with how best to involve sub-national governments.

This initiative would mark a significant innovation in the OGP that could be adapted and adopted by other member countries.

Ambition
An Open Local Government Partnership would become a catalyst for increasing the openness, transparency, responsiveness and accountability of local government in the UK. It would develop a network of local authorities and reformers committed to the principles of open government, supporting them to develop, commit to & share actions designed to make local government more open. It would become recognised as a kitemark for good government and spread the principles and practice of open government across local government.

11. Ensure the integrity, usability and sustainability of government information

This idea was originally developed by civil society for the 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan, but did not result in a government commitment. It is being resubmitted for consideration for the 2018-2020 action plan.

Ensure a holistic approach to the management of government information of all kinds so as to facilitate openness now and in the future.

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed
Accountability requires access to information with integrity. Technical standards for information integrity exist, but must be applied consistently across government if openness initiatives are to be meaningful. In an increasingly digital environment, information integrity entails capturing and managing information from creation onwards, through interoperable systems and mechanisms. More needs to be done to develop an information management environment within government that enables information integrity and openness.

Main Objective
The main objective of this commitment is to strengthen government’s ability to establish and preserve the integrity of public sector information, so that it can be opened and trusted. Actions should include:
1. Enacting a new Public Records Act that would empower TNA to lead on information management.
The National Archives (TNA) should be a leader in developing, co-ordinating and implementing the necessary standards, systems and mechanisms, but the Public Records Act does not sufficiently empower TNA. Some of the recommendations of the 2014 records management review conducted by Sir Alex Allan highlight TNA’s inability to enforce compliance, under current legislation. In comparison, Scottish legislation of 2011 gives National Records of Scotland the sort of powers TNA needs. This will need to be addressed if TNA is to support good practice in the creation and management over time of records and data to deliver high quality information with integrity and reliability.
2. Delivering on commitments to address deficiencies in the management of public sector records.
The 2014 review of government records management by Sir Alex Allan resulted in recommendations that TNA has publicly committed to act on. The OGP National Action Plan should be used to reaffirm TNA’s commitment, and to encompass commitments resulting from the digital records management review Sir Alex is currently undertaking.
3. Identifying a strategy for introducing into open data initiatives the technical knowledge developed in the records management, data science, and digital preservation communities, to strengthen information integrity in support of meaningful openness.
As an example on one initiative: the Scottish Government’s Data Strategy for public sector information is governed by the ‘Data Linkage Framework’, which requires government departments and agencies to acknowledge the importance of data quality in facilitating the use of data to maximize its value. The aim is to strengthen data, for instance in terms of accuracy and the level of disaggregation required. Operating within this Framework, the Data Sharing and Linkage Service is being delivered through collaboration between NHS National Services Scotland and National Records of Scotland.
4. Ensuring the infrastructure is in place to enable government information to be, and remain, accessible and usable.
This should involve further developing or extending the TNA’s Digital Records Infrastructure (DRI), developing a transparent process by which decisions can be made about the present and future value of data, particularly as open data, to inform decisions on investment in their sustainability, and maintaining a cost-effective, holistic preservation strategy that includes datasets and other information published online (particularly reviewing the Web Archives’ frequency of captures to improve government accountability for the datasets it releases, and its functionality, considering enabling users to ‘watch’ pages and to be notified of changes).

Relevance
This commitment extends Commitment 5 in the UK Government’s 2013 National Action Plan. That commitment is important because it recognised that records management is an essential underpinning of open government. This continues to be important. An holistic approach to effective management of all types of government information, including records and data, is particularly important in a financial environment that is challenging for public bodies. Commitment 5 supported OGP Grand Challenges 2, 3 and 5, but we believe it can and should also support Grand Challenges 1 and 4. Furthermore, the UK IRM’s progress report for 2014/15 stated: ‘The IRM researcher would emphasize the importance of records preservation and management for the wider open data agenda. Future plans should ensure that the issue remains a central part—particularly awareness of problems raised by hybrid and digital records’.

Ambition
The ambition of this commitment is to establish an environment that ensures information integrity, so that information can be searched, retrieved and released efficiently with assurance that it is reliable and authentic.

10. Promote comprehensive freedom of information rules

This idea was originally developed by civil society for the 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan, but did not result in a government commitment. It is being resubmitted for consideration for the 2018-2020 action plan.

The Freedom of Information Act should be protected and its scope widened to achieve comprehensive coverage of public sector bodies and the companies they own or control.

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed
Freedom of Information is the foundation stone of open government which allows citizens to ask questions, and receive information, on the issues that matter to them. However, Freedom of Information does not currently apply to all public bodies, and often important information is inaccessible from bodies providing public services on the behalf of government.

Contractors providing public services are not themselves subject to the FOI Act. However, the FOI right does apply to information which a contractor holds on behalf of an authority. Deciding what information is held on the authority’s behalf is not easy and depends on what the contract itself says. This varies from contract to contract. Often, important information is considered to be held for the contractor’s purposes, not the authority’s, and is therefore inaccessible under FOI.

Main Objective
Where a service is provided on behalf of a public authority by another body, or is otherwise supported by public funds, information about the quality of the service and way in which it is provided should be available under FOI.

The Freedom of Information Act should be extended to all public bodies, unless powerful reasons for excluding a body are found during public consultation.

Relevance
Freedom of Information is the cornerstone of open government, as it allows citizens to request information about issues that are relevant to them.

Ambition
To achieve comprehensive FOI coverage of public authorities and bodies providing public services on their behalf.

9. Make the use of evidence in policy formulation and evaluation transparent

This idea was originally developed by civil society for the 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan, but did not result in a government commitment. It is being resubmitted for consideration for the 2018-2020 action plan.

Introduce an evidence transparency standard that shows how government has considered evidence in policy formulation and evaluation

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed
Citizens are unable to access the evidence behind government policy formulation and evaluation. If government is to be held properly to account for its decisions and actions, citizens need to be able to understand the way government has used evidence in making its decision and be able to access it readily.

Main Objective
Government should publish the data and evidence that underpin any new policies it announces, and should also commit to regular and long term evaluation of policies. As a first step, government departments and agencies should commit to an “evidence transparency standard” to “show the workings” behind government policy and decisions in a way that is easy for any interested citizen to access. This should include a commitment to reference published data that underpin policy and decisions, in accordance with the principle of equal access to statistics and underlying analysis.

The standard would break down into five key components, which follow a chain of reasoning from diagnosis to hypothesis to implementation to evaluation :
• Why does the government think action is necessary (its diagnosis of the issue)
• Why the government has chosen a specific intervention (the what question)
• Why the government has chosen a specific way of delivering the intervention (the how question)
• Why the government thinks this is worth doing (the value for money question)
• How the government proposes to tell whether its working (the testing and evaluation question)

Relevance
Citizens deserve to know the basis on which government is making the decisions that affect them. Making policy when resources are tight is difficult but this only makes it more important that policy makers are open about how they have taken into account the probable quantified consequences of alternatives. When we lack the data to inform choices between options in important policy areas, the government should invest in getting it.

Ambition
Open government should rely upon good quality data and statistics, and the first step in ensuring the public can judge the quality of evidence behind policy is to ensure citizens can access that evidence. An evidence transparency standard would allow citizens to judge the extent to which policies and evaluations are informed by evidence.

Additional Comments:
Senseaboutscience – Sense about Science strongly supports the inclusion of this in the 2018-2020 action plan.
Since first proposing that government should commit to a standard of transparency about evidence use in policy development, as described above, we – in partnership with the Institute for Government and Alliance for Useful Evidence – have twice assessed whether people outside government can tell what government is proposing to do, and why. The answer is, sometimes.
Our latest report was published in January and can be found here: http://senseaboutscience.org/activities/transparency-evidence-spot-check/. We observed some general improvements in practice since our first review, published in November 2016. Importantly, the latest results show that the standards we have set out in the evidence transparency framework used for our spot check are achievable, and in a range of policymaking scenarios. (NB: we have refined the framework since this idea was first put to the OGN – value for money is now wrapped up in the Proposal and Implementation sections of the framework.)

We have made considerable progress with government on departments’ evidence transparency. We have been engaging extensively around our published work, including evidence transparency workshops for policy professionals and analysts from across government, a methodology review with senior government analysts prior to our second assessment, invited presentations to cross-departmental groups including the Departmental Directors of Analysis Network and Cross-Government Evaluation Group, and upcoming presentations to parliamentary select committees.
The 2018 report has been well received and there is interest among the most senior civil servants. HM Treasury has also just updated the Green Book – government’s official guidance on policy appraisal – for the first time in 15 years. The first line of the foreword by Sir Tom Scholar emphasises transparency, and the guidance stipulates it throughout in relation to presenting calculations and evidence. In the previous edition there were no references to transparency about evidence.

8. Provide a single point of contact for public requests for evidence

This idea was originally developed by civil society for the 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan, but did not result in a government commitment. It is being resubmitted for consideration for the 2018-2020 action plan.

Each government department and agency should provide a single point of contact for public requests for evidence related to departmental policy.

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed
Government departments and agencies do not provide a clearly identified contact that the public can request evidence from.

Main Objective
Each government department and agency will provide a single point of contact for public requests for evidence related to the department’s policy.

A nominated individual in each department and agency will have responsibility for the contact point. At a minimum this will be a dedicated email address prominently advertised online and in communications.

This individual will monitor public requests for evidence; identify and collect appropriate information; respond to public requests promptly; and keep a public record of public requests received including the progress of ongoing requests.

Relevance
A single point of contact and an ongoing invitation for people to use it will increase civic participation. People sending a request to government for evidence underlying public policy, and getting an answer, is beneficial to public understanding. It will increase the public’s access to information. It will mean the public will be less prone to misunderstanding on issues such as vaccination, agricultural policies and screening programmes.

Institutionalising responding to public requests will be a sign that government accepts its accountability to people, as in the 1980s companies accepted accountability to consumers by introducing dedicated phone lines and addresses for customer services and as public bodies accept their responsibility to properly look after public data by providing a point of contact for enquiries under the Data Protection Act 1998 for example.services, and when public bodies accepted their responsibility to properly look after public data by providing a point of contact for enquiries under the Data Protection Act 1998 for example.

Ambition
A single point of contact for requests for evidence used to shape public policies answers the government’s commitment to empower and transform the relationship between citizens and governments, as set out in the UK National Action Plan 2013 – 2015. It also answers the government’s commitment to public engagement in policy making.

An open and ongoing invitation to people to ask the Government for its evidence will make government more open and will improve the relationship between citizens and the government. Obfuscation and delays in implementing easy ways for the public to engage in policy making until now has put departments in a bad light. An open invitation and a direct, clear route for citizen’s questions will address this.

An institutionalised single point of contact will reduce time delays. There will be no need for people to engage the Freedom of Information Act request process. A dedicated individual in place will reduce the passing around of public enquiries within and between departments to try to find someone to answer that frustrates people now. This will save government time and money too and enable government to provide other relevant resources and information that helps people to focus and refine future requests.

Additional Comments:
Maurice Frankel – A single point of contact already exists within each government dept or agency – the FOI officer.

7. Ensure the open and timely publication of government research

This idea was originally developed by civil society for the 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan, but did not result in a government commitment. It is being resubmitted for consideration for the 2018-2020 action plan.

Ensure the open and timely publication of government research, through a standardised public register of all commissioned studies.

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed
The public cannot easily see whether research conducted or commissioned by government has been published.

Main Objective
Every government department and arms-length public body should publish a standardised record of all research it carries out, whether conducted by civil servants or commissioned through independent academic experts. The record would include what the research is looking at, who is conducting the study, and any agreements around the publication of results.

Relevance
Government conducts a large amount of research, either directly through the civil service and arms-length public bodies, or through independent academic experts it commissions. There have been high-profile examples where such research was delayed, modified, and misrepresented – or dropped altogether – apparently because the results were politically inconvenient. Recent examples include research looking at the rising use of food banks, international comparisons of drugs policy, and the effect of immigration on the jobs market, but researchers have come forward with numerous cases under previous governments.

This non-publication happens even though there are numerous codes of practice and guidelines in place requiring the prompt release of all government social research. Where this happens it undermines public scrutiny of government policy. Because government points to research to justify policy, there should be a presumption of open publication so that citizens can look at what they’re being asked to accord authority to. And if taxpayers pay for research, they’re entitled to know the results and what the quality of the study was. The impression that challenging results will be delayed or suppressed risks damaging the trust between government and researchers.

Currently it is not possible to assess the scale or significance of the non-publication of government research, as departments aren’t required to hold or publish records of what research is being carried out, by whom, and any agreements around publication of results. Such a record would make it easier to hold government to account, allowing public scrutiny of cases where studies are delayed or suppressed.

Ambition
A standardised record of all government research would empower the public to scrutinise what research is being carried out, by whom, and what the results were. This transparency would make government more open, and help improve the trust between researchers and policymakers by making it harder for studies to be delayed or suppressed for political reasons.

6. Promote public participation in contracting

This idea was originally developed by civil society for the 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan, but did not result in a government commitment. It is being resubmitted for consideration for the 2018-2020 action plan.

As it also relates closely to newer ideas on open contracting (ideas 31 and 33), these will be considered all together.

Increase the opportunities for citizens to be involved in planning, tender and oversight processes

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed
Open Contracting principles call for citizens to be engaged in all stages of the contracting process, including design, planning and review.
Yet, there are few structured opportunities in the UK for citizens to participate: either in the planning for procurement, or in assessing whether goods and services delivered were of a high enough quality.

Main Objective
• Increase the opportunities for citizens to be involved in planning, tender and oversight processes – at both national and local level;
• Pilot digital tools that support citizens to engage in the planning, delivery and evaluation stages of contracting;
• Ensure there is a preferential option for those living in poverty and marginalised groups, so that public expenditure stimulates skills and entrepreneurship amongst these groups.

This may include creating visualisation and user-input tools that help citizens to discover aspects of the contracting pipeline relevant to them, and to provide their input and feedback on proposals, including those that will work for people who live in poverty and marginalised groups. Right now, the Contracts Finder platform is oriented solely towards suppliers: yet citizens often have key expertise on identifying precisely what the demands are in each local context as it changes over time, how to get the best value for money, and deliver the best services, for a planned procurement. Developing interfaces that can alert citizens to planned contracts affecting their local area, or their subject areas of interest, and then tools that help solicit input from citizens, could offer an important way to crowdsource insights and experiences.

Similarly, at the implementation stage of contracting, citizens have a key role to play in oversight. Creating visualisations that can indicate contract performance (drawing on information provided as part of the common baseline in Commitment 2) and that invite feedback from the beneficiaries of contracts, opens up a further space to ensure contracted out public services are delivering effectively.

Relevance
Participation is a central theme of Open Government, and contracting is a central way in which public services are now delivered.
Increasing openness, including transparency and participation, in contracting ensures greater accountability for public funds, and opens up opportunities for greater citizen control over those services.

Better oversight of contracting information allows government to understand its supply chain better, driving more efficient procurement and use of public resources, and reducing government exposure to supply chain risks.

Ambition
The UK has a leading role to play in connecting the disclosure and participation aspects of Open Contracting. Public procurement and contracting are a vital strand in the Prime Minister’s golden thread of conditions that enable countries to be successful the world over. It’s the biggest part of government spending and it’s the most at risk of corruption.

Government, the private sector, and civil society, will all have more information to engage effectively with public procurement.

Citizens will guide procurement processes to produce better outcomes. Civil society monitoring, for example, is transformational for service delivery, helping to halve the costs of textbooks in the Philippines and infrastructure such as roads, clinics and schools in various OGP countries.

Additional Comments:
John Kellas – Is there capacity for someone to synthesize the following ideas into one ‘idea’:
33 Open Contracting for Local Government
31 Opening up and improving local govt contracting
6 Promote Public Participation in contracting
?
Open Government Network – Good point! I will try to do this now! If not, then I will reference that the three entries be considered together.

5. Increase the transparency and accountability of tax incentives/reliefs

This idea was originally developed by civil society for the 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan, but did not result in a government commitment. It is being resubmitted for consideration for the 2018-2020 action plan.

Ensure all UK tax incentives/reliefs are annually costed and subject to periodic review to ensure they serve their purpose and provide value for money.

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed
Currently the UK undertakes a cost benefit analysis of tax incentives and reliefs prior to adoption, but does not systematically undertake continuous monitoring once passed into law.

This is a problem as there is general agreement among economists that tax incentives have the potential to be harmful, and as such should be treated with caution and subject to close monitoring, yet this is not happening. This is a global problem, in developing countries it is estimated that harmful tax incentives are costing developing countries around $130bn a year (Action Aid). There are also various EU inquiries into harmful tax competition currently being undertaken.

In the UK the Public Accounts Committee found that HMRC is deficient in its reporting of tax reliefs, of tracking performance against stated objectives, and also including the cost of tax reliefs into policy spending (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmpubacc/892/892.pdf). This commitment is consistent with the recommendations in the PAC report, as well as recommendations made by the OECD, UN, IMF and WB to the 2011 G20 (see http://www.oecd.org/ctp/48993634.pdf pg 23-24). Some other countries are more advanced than the UK in this regard – e.g. India does seek to attach an annual costing of reliefs to its budget http://www.indiabudget.nic.in/ub2015-16/statrevfor/annex12.pdf)

Main Objective
To extend the existing transparency of UK tax incentives and reliefs to enable greater monitoring and periodic assessment, ensuring parliamentary and public awareness and trust in the UK regime, and ensure value for money.

UK leadership in this area would also ensure the UK meets the recommendation of the UN/IMF/OECD and WB to the G20 in 2011 for G20 countries to show leadership in transparency and accountability of tax incentives, to drive the spread of best practice globally, especially to developing countries.

Relevance
This commitment would provide access to new information on how how the UK’s tax incentives and reliefs operate, information that is necessary to understand the impact and utility of the measures that have been implemented, and to assess the likelihood of success of new measures. Thus public accountability would be increased by providing the tools and information to hold the government accountable. It will also help increase understanding of how the UK tax system works, and so enable greater civic participation in discussions on the development of the UK tax system.

So long as the methodology used is shared and made open it should provide opportunities for greater use of technology and innovation in improving the monitoring and assessment of tax incentives globally.

Ambition
This improved transparency would ensure the government is both more open, through the provision of more information, and improved as tax incentives and reliefs would have to be regularly assessed and justified, ensuring that poor incentives are removed from legislation.

4. Lead on transparency, public participation and accountability in the budget process

This idea was originally developed by civil society for the 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan, but did not result in a government commitment. It is being resubmitted for consideration for the 2018-2020 action plan.

Increase transparency, public participation and accountability in the budget process at all levels domestically and internationally.

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed
Greater transparency and increased active public participation in the budget process at all levels to ensure more accountable, responsive governance and effective use of public funds in the UK and abroad. The UK government should be a leading performer on the Open Budget Survey.

Transformation and innovation in developing reformed public services is essential in the current fiscal climate, but we know that formal politics and our traditional democratic processes struggle to attract participation and engagement from the wider demographic of the UK. This proposal suggests a ‘test and learn’ approach to designing greater participation in the influencing stages of budget setting and spending, and opening up budgets to greater transparency and public participation.

Main Objective
There are two objectives for this commitment:
1. To increase transparency, public participation and accountability in the budget process at all levels by promoting the implementation of the GIFT High-Level Principles domestically and internationally and improving fiscal performance as per the transparency, participation and oversight indicators of the Open Budget Survey. Steps include increasing comprehensive of budget documents, legislative public hearings during the budget cycle where citizens can testify and provision of feedback by the executive and supreme audit institution on how public inputs are taken into account.
2. To implement the principles of participatory budgeting into a process that empowers the public to spend a percentage (0.25-1%) of public funds. A Citizen’s Jury will design the process and make recommendations in response to their question: What would it take to devolve 0.25- 1% of a public budget to a citizen participation process? Our objective would be to apply those recommendations in a ‘test and learn’ environment.

Relevance
On 28th March 2015 The United Nations passed a resolution that stated it is the “…responsibility of States to ensure that relevant national laws and policies are translated into transparent, participatory and accountable budgets and spending” The resolution follows UN Resolution 67/218 endorsing the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency High-Level Principles and calls upon States to make budgeting processes open, transparent, accessible and participatory.

The UK is in a strong position to deliver on this commitment domestically and internationally as per the transparency, participation and oversight indicators and practices of the Open Budget Survey and GIFT High-Level Principles. There is extensive evidence of how national and local governments have delivered on greater transparency, public participation and accountability in the budget process at all levels in a mainstreamed manner.

The UK should draw on tried and tested use of Participatory Budgeting in policing, health, local government and voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations, and extending that practice into the mainstream budgeting process of both national and local budgeting. This commitment has civic participation at its core and applies best practice principles of PB to ensure that civic participation becomes a strong and meaningful feature of open government when influencing public spending decisions.

The commitment can be measured by using the Open Budget Survey. The Open Budget Survey 2015, released on 9th September, provides specific recommendations for the UK and 101 other countries. Recommendations for the UK include increasing the comprehensiveness of the Executive Budget’s Proposal and Enacted Budget; establishing credible, effective participation mechanisms such as public hearings, surveys and focus groups during the budget process; holding legislative hearings on the budgets of ministries, departments and agencies; providing feedback on how public inputs have been used.

Ambition
By adopting a ‘test and learn’ approach to greater participation in budgeting processes, the learning from this commitment will inform how the UK could extend and develop their approach to mainstreaming citizen participation in public spending.

By developing and scaling up existing practices, the government can deliver greater assurances to the UK taxpayer that their funds are well spent, and greater dividends to governments and recipients of UK aid.

Implementation of the GIFT High Level Principles, the Participatory Budgeting principles, the learning from over 300 participatory budgeting processes in the UK, and the practices outlined in the Open Budget Survey can improve governance, trust and services that respond to citizens’ needs.

3. Open policy making pilot projects

This idea was originally developed by civil society for the 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan, but did not result in a government commitment. It is being resubmitted for consideration for the 2018-2020 action plan.

Explore and practice open policy-making and share learning

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed
Policy makers need to develop and trial a range of different approaches to open policy making and citizen engagement to understand what works best and when.

As citizen engagement is a continuously developing field, with new evidence of benefits and limitations of different techniques in different settings emerging on an ongoing basis, continued exploration needs to take place to understand the tools and opportunities available for national and local governments to hear from a wider range of citizens.

Following this up with evaluation and sharing this learning across Whitehall, local governments, and devolved regions can ensure the maximum benefit for this work, and enable greater uptake and understanding of open policy making across the UK.

Main Objective
The UK Government will explore opportunities for open policy making by trialling 10 different open-policy and participation projects for capturing citizen involvement and feedback into policy formation in different departments, focussing on different stages of policy development, such as at the very early stages of policy formation on a particular issue, during a formal consultation, and following publication of a draft Bill. This builds upon commitments made in the UK’s 2nd Open Government Partnership (OGP) National Action Plan to open up policy-making:
“The UK government will demonstrate the potential of open policy making by running at least five ‘test and demonstrate projects’ across different policy areas. These will inform how open policy making can be deployed across the civil service”

Consideration must be given to geographic diversity, and engagement with diverse audiences, and one of these pilot projects should include a participation project specifically focussed on engaging and ensuring the genuine participation of children.

These trials should be co-created in discussion with civil society organisations and built with an expectation of informing participants how their views have been heard, other competing insights, actions taken as a result (even if there is little), with feedback provided in language that participants can understand.

Subsequent to the completion of the 10 projects, a report should be created to share learning across Whitehall, comparing the different methodologies, value given, lessons learned, and how Government can learn from (and embed these ideas where appropriate) in future policy making. This evaluative report should also include recording the number of individuals engaged, the mechanisms by which they were engaged and how feedback was provided to those who engaged.

To better share learning outside of just Whitehall, and to raise the awareness of open policy making among local governments, devolved regions, and citizens, other dissemination activities should also take place – including 4 events taking place across the UK focussed specifically at engaging local government and devolved regions. Other dissemination activities could include blog posts or creation of a video.

Regular progress updates (every 6 months) of the progress made on this commitment should be provided to Parliament

Relevance
Open policy making is one means of civic participation. Citizen engagement, as part of that process, is a continuously developing field, with new evidence of benefits and limitations of different techniques in different settings emerging on an ongoing basis. There is no single “correct” model that should be adopted in any given scenario, but instead a range of possible approaches, the design of which can be tweaked to result in different outcomes.

It is therefore important that governments and civil society continue to explore the efficacy of different approaches to citizen engagement in different scenarios, but do so in an agile way that enables continued development of approaches, and encourages the sharing of best practice across both Whitehall and local government.

Ambition
This is an expansion upon a previous OGP commitment to open policy making with an increased number of projects, but also with very specific focus upon increasing inclusion, developing feedback mechanisms, and ensuring involvement at a variety of stages of policy formation.

There are also built in requirements to share learning across Whitehall and into local governments and devolved regions, helping to disseminate knowledge of open policy making and best practice among policy-makers and civil servants across the country.

2. Improve consultation practice

This idea was originally developed by civil society for the 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan, but did not result in a government commitment. It is being resubmitted for consideration for the 2018-2020 action plan.

Develop process and tools for more effective consultation practices.

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed
The principle that those affected by decisions should be given the opportunity to shape those decisions is central to open government. Outside periodically voting for elected representatives, citizens (in the broadest sense of term to mean all inhabitants of a country or local region) must be offered opportunities to provide their input into key policy decisions that affect them.

Consultation provides not only an opportunity to gather opinion and values, but also an opportunity to tap into the expertise of the public; crowdsourcing insights that government would not otherwise have access to. However, this process is often experienced, both by government and by citizens, as a tick-box exercise: more concerned with compliance than with conversation and dialogue.

Consultation principles and requirements on government to consult have been progressively weakened, with recommended and mandatory timelines removed. Many national and local government agencies have lost specialist staff capacity to deal with consultation, and early experiments by government with the use of social media for greater consultation and dialogue have not been followed up systematically. Furthermore, many consultations taking place in ways that limit the effective ability of citizens to engage, and too frequently the process of consultation is not transparent, and those who do respond are often left with little understanding about how their ideas have been considered and heard, or why their views may not be taken on board.

Research into civic engagement shows repeatedly that the consultation process itself is damaged and the public becomes apathetic if the time they invest in consultation is perceived to be wasted. If policy-makers do not respond to the findings of consultation, credibility, engagement and trust are severely impaired. Ministers, as elected representatives of members of the public, have ultimate authority in policy-making; their role in ensuring that consultation is carried out at the right time, heard, and responded to is paramount.
With Government self-monitoring consultation performance, there is little transparency about consultation performance, and little ability for citizens to raise concerns that decision making has not been sufficiently informed by the public voice.

Main Objectives
Government should work to create a stronger culture of responsive, accessible, and transparent consultation.

Building on the template of the Government Service Design Manual, which offers accessible guidance for civil servants in agile management of digital services, government should develop a Consultation Design Manual and toolkit, remixing existing resources to provide improved support for officials carrying out consultations, and should also include guidance on how findings of consultations should be processed to Ministers for consideration.

Work needs to be done to better understand what an effective response to consultation should look like and to develop the processes to enact this. While it is understood that government has to act on all most or even any of the findings of a consultation. However, those who have given their time and ideas in a consultation have the right to know that these ideas were considered, how. Furthermore, where popular or majority ideas were not incorporated into a policy, a response should explain the reasons for this.

Greater transparency should be provided about consultations, with a regular review published with information on consultations listed on GOV.UK, including details of their opening dates, duration, number of responses (alongside some data about demographics of respondents), and the number of days taken for a government response to be published.

Public sector consultation standards should not be monitored by government itself, and instead an external organisation, such at the National Audit Office, should be given responsibility for public sector consultation standards, and for ensuring compliance, with a clear complaints route to an Ombudsman. Introduce a system by which further checks and balances such as proper scrutiny of published summaries of data, feedback communications and submissions to decision-makers are added.

Civil society also has a responsibility here: to provide greater oversight of consultation as a whole, evaluating government progress, and providing constructive critical feedback on areas to improve.

Relevance
The right for citizens to participate in the decisions that affect their lives is a central element of open government and one of the key eligibility criteria for the OGP. Effective consultation processes that allow citizens to participate fully, including being heard, and the tools to enable civil servants to do this, are crucial.

This commitment seeks to develop better consultation process and tools, and to create opportunities to re-establish trust in the process of policy-making informed by consultation, requiring policy-makers to communicate their response in a way that demonstrates genuine consideration of public voices, and developing a process by which Government are not self-monitoring their own processes.

Transparent evidence, in the form of a published response to each consultation that details how the government have used the information from the public strengthens openness and accountability: how public voices have influenced policy and explaining where they have not strengthens accountability and openness.

An external body, in the form of the National Audit Office, should have responsibility for public sector consultation standards and ensuring compliance, with a clear complaints route provided. This would mark an end to unenforced standards, fewer judicial reviews, result in a greater confidence in consultative processes, as well as increasing government accountability.

Ambition
In an increasingly complex world, citizens’ input is a critical resource for policy-making, as good decision-making requires the knowledge, experiences, views and values of the public.

The process of consultation is typically opaque, with little built in requirement for engagement of a wide range of individuals. Institutionalising a minimum level of citizen engagement in the policy process is important for ensuring that the views of citizens and other stakeholders are present when decisions are made, and that decisions are better informed as a result.

With a lack of transparency about how decisions are reached from the input curated through consultation, too frequently citizens are left feeling disengaged and lacking in trust in the decisions. Creating a requirement for government to respond about how public voices have or have not been taken on board in the decision making process creates feedback loops and prevents this breakdown in trust.

Finally, there is need for greater accountability. Government should not self-monitor their own consultation standards, and instead this should be provided.

An external body, in the form of the National Audit Office, should have responsibility for public sector consultation standards and ensuring compliance, with a clear complaints route provided. This would mark an end to unenforced standards, fewer judicial reviews, result in a greater confidence in consultative processes, as well as increasing government accountability.

1. Increase lobbying transparency

This idea was originally developed by civil society for the 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan, but did not result in a government commitment. It is being resubmitted for consideration for the 2018-2020 action plan.

HMG should reform the statutory register of lobbyists so that it provides meaningful information about the scale and nature of lobbying in the UK.

Status quo or problem/issue to be addressed
Lobbying is a healthy part of democracy and can lead to better decisions and more effective policies. However, it can be done in a way that distorts the democratic process. In turn, this can adversely affect citizens’ trust in their representatives and the government.

According to Transparency International’s latest Global Corruption Barometer (2013), 59 per cent of respondents believed that the UK government is ‘entirely’ or ‘to a large extent’ run by a few big entities acting in their own best interests; 67 per cent thought that political parties in the UK are ‘corrupt’ or ‘extremely corrupt’; and 55 per cent thought that the UK parliament is ‘corrupt’ or ‘extremely corrupt’.

Despite recent reforms, there is still very little transparency about the scale and nature of lobbying activities in the UK and little disincentive to prevent corrupting behaviour by lobbyists. The statutory register only covers a fraction of those engaged in lobbying activities, it provides no information on the activities of lobbyists, or the amount of money being spent to promote certain policies or views and it only covers those engaging with senior government figures, such as Ministers and Permanent Secretaries – it does not cover influencing aimed at mid-level civil servants, or parliamentarians.

In its White Paper on lobbying, the government claimed that there was no need to widen the scope of the statutory register because details of interactions between government and in-house lobbyists was already made available through data containing information on meetings between Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Special Advisers and external organisations. However, this data has significant issues which means that it does not compensate for a comprehensive statutory register of lobbyists. Its issues include:
• Scope: they only cover meetings between lobbyists and senior government figures, when a lot of influencing work is aimed at mid-level civil servants and parliamentarians. They also do not provide information about how much is being spent by lobbyists on their influencing activities.
• Accessibility: the latest versions of this data cover April to June 2014 and only half of departments publish it as machine-readable open data.
• Meaningfulness: there is insufficient information in most of the data to give members of the public an idea of what was discussed in the meetings.
• Accuracy: questions have been raised about how complete these records are. For example, there have been a number of incidents where Ministers have not reported meetings with lobbyists.
• Intelligibility: the lack of structure in the data means it is hard for the public to easily analyse how many people are trying to influence government and who they are.

Main Objective
To expand the scope and requirements of the statutory register of lobbyists to provide greater transparency about who is trying to influence public policy and decisions within the current Parliament. The new register should include:
• in-house as well as consultant lobbyists
• lobbyists who are trying to influence UK Government Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Special Advisers, mid-level Civil Servants and UK Parliamentarians
• details of their registered address and company recognition number (if applicable)
• quarterly updates detailing their activities during that period, including:
• an honest and reasonable assessment of how much they spent on lobbying activities
• details of any staff they had seconded to a government department
• details of who lobbyists are trying to influence i.e. which government department of official
• details of the names of lobbyists who have lobbied on their behalf of within the previous quarter
• details of any public office held previously (during the past five years) by any employees who are engaged in lobbying
• details of what they are trying to influence i.e. the policy, legislation, contract, licence etc.

Relevance
Providing transparency about who is trying to influence public policy and decisions would make our democratic system more open and accountable to citizens.

Ambition
Providing more information about who is trying to influence public policy and decision-making would increase the openness of our political system. In turn this would help citizens hold their representatives and public officials to account for the decisions they make.

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