Commitment 4: Accountability Public Services: Update (April 2019)

Dear All,

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.

Best Wishes,

Saskia Kearns
Scottish Government OGP Commitment 4 Lead

Consumer Policy - Open Government Partnership - CWG Meeting 1 - Agenda.pdf (219.8 KB)

Consumer Policy - Open Government Partnership - CWG Meeting 1 - Paper 1 - Setting the Scene.pdf (301.5 KB)

Consumer Policy - Open Government Partnership - CWG Meeting 1 - Paper 2 - Our Charter.pdf (248.4 KB)

Consumer Policy - Open Government Partnership - CWG Meeting 1 - Paper 3 - EKOS Summary of Research.pdf (260.0 KB)

Consumer Policy - Open Government Partnership - CWG Meeting 1 - Paper 4 - Year 1 Programme of Delivery.pdf (126.5 KB)

Consumer Policy - Open Government Partnership - CWG - Confirmed Partners 2018-20.pdf (247.5 KB)

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The first meeting of the new Commitment 4 Collaborative Working Group was held on 17 April 2019 at Audit Scotland’s offices in Edinburgh.

The meeting was well attended and brought together for the first time all of the Partners who have agreed to support delivery of the Commitment from across State and civic society organisations. The diversity of interests and experience of participants was commented on as being valuable to inform the work moving forward.

Partners agreed to a Charter for the group, which sets out how we all aim to work together in the spirit of collaboration and partnerning, as well as indicating the focus of work for the group. A Year 1 Work-Plan was also agreed - the aim is to use the first 12 months to define the problem and generate potential solutions we will then look to pilot in 2020. The first significant piece of work we will now be getting stuck into is to design and organise a series of citizen-based engagements over the Summer - this will allow us to explore, identify and then prioritise what the key challenges are to accessing accountability of public services, according to those who have used such services or may have need to but face barriers to access. At the same time we will engage with the wider scrutiny and regulatory landscape, and public service providers, in order to understand their perspective of the challenges posed and feasibility of potential solutions. The group will be meeting again in early June to work through some of these considerations.

If you are interested in being involved in some of this engagement work, and in particular are involved directly or have contact with relevant networks or citizen-based groups that you think would want to participate, please get in touch with me by replying to this post or emailing .

There is a lot of work ahead for us but Partners seemed genuinely enthused by the opportunities the Commitment presents for us to effect real change, and deliver benefits for people living in Scotland.

I have attached some photos of our first meeting of the CWG and am happy to discuss anything of interest!

Saskia Kearns
Scottish Government OGP Commitment 4 Lead

IMG_2811 IMG_2817 IMG_2829 IMG_2831


Thanks very much for writing this up and posting to the OGN site. There is now another way to encourage people to get involved. Two people from Argyll and Highland have made enquiries about how they might participate, and this would be helpful to bring a rural perspective.

Thanks for sharing this Saskia - pleasing to hear it was such a constructive meeting, and look forward to seeing the work progress. Please keep us updated :slight_smile:

I’d be particularly interested in the local scrutiny of Police and Fire and other partnerships such as Community Planning Partnerships. Happy to be involved so please catch me here if you want. Thanks, Hannah

Hi Hannah,

Thanks for getting in touch! It’s really encouraging when people actively come forward looking to support and co-develop this work.

We are currently in the early stages of planning a series of citizen engagement activities over the Summer period – the aim of these engagements will be to explore and develop a strong evidence base of understanding of current challenges
and barriers people experience in accessing accountability of public services, and potential solutions and means for improvement. This will all inform thinking of our Collaborative Working Group to this Commitment – made up of both State and Civic Society
Partner organisations – to develop recommendations for piloting next year.

There will be many opportunities throughout this process for direct participation from across a range of interested parties. To help inform this planning, it would be really helpful if you could let me know of any citizens-based
or led groups and networks that the Scottish Community Safety Network has contact with, or manages, and which you think would offer a good channel of engagement with people. I attach an engagement planner that I would appreciate if you could drop any relevant
info into, if content?

In the meantime, it would also be really interesting to hear a little more about recent examples or experience of people seeking accountability of public services, which SCSN is aware of. It’s always helpful to have on-going conversations
like this with wider civic society organisations as we develop the work, because it can help everyone to touch base and keep a focus on achieving best outcomes for people. If you’re happy to, I’d welcome any comments to this email. Many thanks.

Best Wishes,

Saskia Kearns

Senior Policy Advisor | Consumer Policy & Interventions Team | Consumer & Competition Policy Unit

Consumers & Low Carbon Division | Directorate for Energy & Climate Change | Scottish Government

Tel: 0300 244 4326 | Email:





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Hi John from Highland here,

Really worried about the legal structure of CPP’s as they seem to be avoiding EQUI’s, PSED’s, CRWIA’s, and Fairer Scotland Duty…