I wanted to share a short update on work to date on Commitment 4 under Scotland’s second Open Government National Action Plan, focused on “Improving the accountability of public services”. I lead on delivery of this Commitment on behalf of Scottish Government, supported by Alex Stobart and Shaben Begum who are the Commitment Leads on the Scottish OGP Steering Group. Together, we have already taken the first steps in driving delivery of this work, and ensuring good communication and coordination between Scottish Government and civic society stakeholders.
On Wednesday 17 April we held our first meeting of a new Collaborative Working Group, which will act as a sounding board, critical friend and discussion platform between State and civic society Partners to help shape and drive forward delivery over the next 2 years. A diverse range of Partners have come together for this purpose, from across third sector charities, networks, associations and other expert advisory organisations, as well as interested citizens with direct experience of engaging with public service providers. Partner organisations were identified through online research and discussions between myself, Alex, Shaben and the original signatories to Commitment 4 (which includes both State and civic society organisations). We collectively sought to identify individual citizens and organisations we thought would share an interest in this work, who may have specific expertise in issues of good governance and accountability research, or who would be able to represent the voice of a range of groups who regularly use public services.
I have included a full list of Partner organisations alongside this post.
The meeting was a success, providing a great chance for everyone to get together for the first time in a spirit of civic participation, and hear from a range of interested parties on why accountability of public services in Scotland matters. A number of different relevant ideas have been discussed by Partners, including: the PANEL principles of a human-rights based approach to policy and practice development; the complicated nature of "accountability" and "public services" and what these mean to different groups, operating at different levels of governance in a society; the scale and complexity of existing public service accountability frameworks; and the importance of demonstrating impact, which may be strengthened by bringing public service providers, and the wider community of scrutiny and regulatory bodies operating in Scotland, into the conversation at an early stage to ensure buy-in.
The meeting was constructive - Partners have agreed a way forward for the next 10-12 months. We will use Year 1 to define the problem we are seeking to address, through conducting a series of citizen and scrutiny / regulatory bodies engagements to identify and prioritise current challenges and opportunities for person centred solutions.
We will look to Year 2 to begin piloting and learning from potential solutions, in order to build a robust package of tried and tested solutions that can be endorsed by the OGP community, and advocated across relevant organisations. We are committed to delivering real, tangible outputs and achieving positive outcomes for people living in Scotland through this work, and hope that whatever solutions we arrive at as a group can pave the way for longer term improvements.
The Agenda and Papers that circulated for the first meeting of the group are all also included here for reference. I’m happy to discuss anything of interest with OGP Forum members.
Scottish Government OGP Commitment 4 Lead