Feedback on the process to develop the 6th National Action Plan for Open Government

Hi all

I hope you are well.

Below, and via this link, are the steps that were undertaken to develop the recently published 6th National Action Plan for Open Government.

Resources were a challenge throughout, which limited activity to an extent, but it would be great to know what you think of this process, and to hear your ideas as to how it could be improved going forward.

Ultimately a better process leads to a better plan which leads to better outcomes and more lives improved as a result, so your thoughts would be really appreciated.

Kevin

Developing the 6th National Action Plan for Open Government (2024 – 2025)

As a national member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), the UK is required to publish a National Action Plan for Open Government (NAP) regularly.

The process of developing the NAP was coordinated by the Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO), part of the Cabinet Office. It was co-created by government and civil society, the latter coordinated by the UK Open Government Civil Society Network (UK OGN).

Below is further details about the process of developing the sixth NAP, which was published on Monday 18th December 2023 on GOV.UK here.

Governance

The UK Multi-stakeholder Forum (MSF)

The UK MSF oversees co-creation and implementation of the UK’s NAP.

It met quarterly to oversee the development of the 6th NAP.

Attendees included civil servants from multiple government departments, members of the steering committee of the UK Open Government Network, and any subject matter specialists or network leaders of relevance to the development of the plan.

MSFs were co-chaired by the relevant government minister or senior civil servant, and the chair of the UK Open Government Network. From the government, Alex Burghart MP co-chaired one meeting with Sue Bateman, Chief Data Officer at the Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO) in the Cabinet Office co-chairing the rest. Kevin Keith, Chair of the UK Open Government Network, co-chaired on behalf of civil society.

Meetings are under Chatham House Rule. The Central Digital and Data Office in the Cabinet Office (as with the previous National Action Plan) were the secretariat.

Co-creation: The National Action Plan process

The process of civil society-government co-creation occurs over the following stages:

STAGE ONE: Planning for the process

Early planning is designed to ensure objectives are clear, stakeholders and their roles are defined, available resources are identified, and the timeline to completion is accurate. Research shows that a strong and inclusive co-creation process leads to well-designed and more ambitious commitments, but this requires sufficient resources.

What happened:

  • 18/01/2023: Planning for the 6th NAP was discussed and co-creation was also highlighted as a resource-intensive exercise for civil society at the January MSF.
  • 21/02/2023: The Open Government Partnership publish the UK Co-Creation Brief. This serves to support the co-creation process and design of the UK’s 6th NAP. It made the following recommendations:

Design a co-creation process that enables meaningful dialogue, while also being realistic and accounting for resource constraints; Develop a mechanism to gather input from a range of stakeholders, such as an open call for proposals from the public; Ensure that stakeholders have a clear understanding of the aims of each step of the co-creation process; Engage ministers throughout the co-creation process and ensure ministerial awareness of commitment proposals prior to the approval of the final action plan; Prior to adopting the final action plan, report back to stakeholders on how their contributions from the co-creation process were considered.

  • 27/04/2023: The 2023-2024 co-creation timetable was discussed and the issue of resources was again highlighted at the April MSF

STAGE TWO: Outreach

Meaningful civil society-government participation relies on awareness of open government, the co-creation process and how to get involved. It is particularly important to consider the barriers to the inclusion of marginalised and habitually excluded groups when conducting outreach activities to ensure as diverse a set of stakeholders as possible.

What happened:

STAGE THREE: Action plan development – Analysing Inputs

Action plan development focuses on identifying commitments that will be included in the action plan, from analysing inputs, defining the problem, and identifying solutions, to reasoned response and finalisation.

  • 16/06/23: Initial analysis from the CDDO of submitted ideas was produced to support discussion at the June MSF. It recommended: Open Contracting (Anti-corruption and integrity) and Budget Transparency focused on Aid Transparency be taken forward; ‘General’ anti-corruption and integrity, Beneficial Ownership (Anti-corruption and integrity), Digital Governance, Inclusion, Justice, and Right to Information to be discussed further; Political Integrity (Anti-corruption and integrity), Civic Space, Natural Resources, Open Parliament, and Public Service Delivery (including health) not to be taken forward.
  • 22/06/23: A robust discussion of initial ideas collected during NAP6 outreach took place between government and civil society representatives at the June MSF. Alex Burghart MP, Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office co-chaired part of this meeting.
  • 20/07/23: All respondents to the Call for Ideas were written to by the Chair of the UK Open Government Network informing them of the outcome of the June MSF and which ideas would be progressed and notified of an Open Gov Meetup event to hear from the government.
  • 03/08/23: Open Gov Meetup Almost 50 representatives from civil society were in attendance to better understand which commitments were progressing and why.
  • 11/10/23: Draft NAP6 commitments circulated with MSF attendees ahead of October MSF.
  • 18/10/23: Readout from the October MSF. A robust discussion took place in this meeting with regards to the publication date of the 6th NAP. It was resolved that it would be published in December 2023 in accordance with the OGP process.

STAGE FOUR: FEEDBACK AND REASONED RESPONSE

A reasoned response is the government’s (or MSF’s) reply to stakeholders who contributed to the action plan and to the public in general, which contains the reasoning behind decisions made on their contributions.

Once the plan is finalised, it will be published and submitted to OGP.

What happened:

CURRENT STATUS: Reasoned response and finalisation

Following the publication of the UK NAP6, the next MSF will take place on Wednesday 24th January.

The meeting will cover the final oversight of the delivery of the fifth National Action Plan (NAP5) and review NAP6 co-creation process.

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Hi Kevin and Happy New Year,

Thanks so much for the history of the UK approach to designing an NAP. You really do have the patience of Job. Youse kin rite gud 2.

It was such a surprise to see that it’s left up to the civil designers outside government to provide the secretarial services. I hadn’t seen this before. No civil servant keeps minutes. So the MSF meetings don’t officially exist. You might ask your friends at the CDDO if they could at least get their singular report page in a readable order.

I’m comparing the UK approach to the Aussie one, primarily as they shared the same NAP cycle (and I’m a dual Nat). These National governments seem to share the same problems. At least at the UK end you have a wise man who can write a report that explains the reasons for their closed culture. They focus on making policies rather than designing an (increasingly) inclusive process.

The Scots, on the other hand, are the tail that could wag the UK National dog :guide_dog: if their open habits :clap: :clap: :+1: are focussed on, and are used to bring the GDS design teams into their Framework Agreement’s co-design. One day that "Record Your Interest Button on that page is going to lead to an shared MSF learning space. i.e. before it gets to the marketplace.

Chris Smith has already made the primary point (number 3 on the list) during the NAP6 ideas gathering stage. Also, that 2016 Commitment 13 is never going to go away. We learn by watching others, or not.

Forgive me. The problem with bottling things up over 12 years is it all comes out at once. But we are at the post-mortem stage again, between the OGP “Feedback” and “Planning the Process” stages. So could we give ourselves a bit of time to consider the (shared) infrastructure we - the civil unwashed AND CDDO policy makers, AND GDS service designers - need to move our inclusive, deliberative, participatory and shared learning along.

Two recommendations. Firstly, ask Lord Maude is he’d like to be patron of the OGP UK process. I’d happily contribute to the letter.

Secondly, could we get a focus on PeoplePowered’s communities, especially the audiences they are focussing on with their Guide to Participation Platforms. I do mean the whole Guide, as it’s a way to include every government service designer and policy maker in a design process. But I’ve pointed you, specifically, at a page with a para on User Authentication, where it says " user-authentication features are often preferred by governments or other hosts when significant budgets or binding votes are involved.

Well. NO, they are not “preferred”, and “user authentication” is not a feature. It is a mandatory prerequisite of ANY civil online space/service, particularly the international ones.

Until then. This is Mickey Mouse, signing off.
BTW, It would be nice to have a copy of this shared calender on your site.

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Simon, thank you for sharing a link to Scotland’s call for expressions of interest in our Procurement Framework for Participation (still open for those with an interest please do register) - it is perhaps worth reminding us all that OGP is about shared learning - and each member must agree the focus for its priorities to be taken forward as commitments with our civil society partners. We try to focus on those that will make the biggest inroads to increasing openness, accountability and providing improved access and involvement of stakeholders and the public. It fits with the Scottish Government’s aim of improving outcomes for people living in Scotland and is part of a wider reform programme I suggest you might want to take a look at some of the OECD guidance on trust which has helped to focus some of our work in Scotland.
An updated OECD framework on drivers of trust in public institutions to meet current and future challenges | en | OECD

Doreen,

You’re welcome. Someone should blow your, and Neisha’s, trumpets. You Scuuts are opening things up and sharing the learning nicely. I’m not doing much by blowing your Open credentials around this little UK echo chamber. Our audience here already knows :wink: Is there a dgroups for government ?

I also liked the other report you did with your OECD mates. Your OGP, and IPDD, groups’ secretariat has instilled more trust with their audiences than any OECD flyer.Any experienced observer can see where the secretariats of your teams/groups/committees/etc are moving towards.

Its the implementation of all the theory/talk/reports which you Scots have done better than most others. That’s the hard bit in any government. OK, the User Experience is rudimentary. e.g.You have still to link between the formation of groups, their workings, and publishing their recommendations. i.e. publishing so a newbie can understand the (work) flow. But, with a few more iterations, you’ll give Kevin a Framework that he can point at during the next meet with the UK.gov secretariats and say, “This is how open government could work”.

I’ve read and reread your PIN, or is that EOI? Regardless, it’s pretty hard to be sure whether the Scottish Government is after a mechanism, some activities, or just a Specification. Now I’m a post-production engineer by habit. One doesn’t finish defining a specification, particularly for a new public institution of learning, until all the elements have been agreed upon by the necessary skill-sets.

I just hope you can have a conversation with your Dutch peers and their National Research and Education Networks before you make any decisions about a Framework for shared learning on a Local, National and International scale.

Hello @simonfj,

As the lead civil servant in CDDO for NAP6 I wanted to respond to some of your comments in relation to the NAP6 co-creation process.

My perception is that we currently have a positive, robust and collaborative working relationship between civil society and government, both at a coordination level and in developing individual commitments for NAP6 over the past few months. My approach has been to engage openly with government colleagues and with civil society counterparts, and hopefully that intention has been evident to those we’ve worked with.

Regarding the secretariat function, our small team within CDDO carries out a substantial part of the work to facilitate the MSF and coordinate NAP6 co-creation, in close cooperation with the chair of UK OGN. We have worked with @KevinKeith to collate the information posted as the introduction to this thread. It seemed only right that UK OGN asks its own membership for feedback on the process that it works with the government to enable.

We know that the Open Government collection on GOV.UK could be significantly improved and we had hoped to publish a significant rework to this alongside NAP6. Rather than do a rushed job alongside NAP6 publication, we decided to spend more time to ensure we can provide a much more useful resource. Work to complete this update is currently underway.

Regular reporting on NAP progress resumed during 2023, with half yearly written updates and quarterly verbal updates at the MSF. Feedback from the format of this reporting is being used to improve the usefulness of those progress reports for monitoring NAP6 implementation.

We are learning lessons from past and recent co-creation, and we are speaking with our counterparts in the devolved administrations, local government and abroad to share experiences. This is noted in the building capability section section of NAP6 on ‘open government collaboration’. This work is informing our approach so that future open government efforts are as effective as possible.

There are elements on NAP6 that I would approach differently in future, but I do think we have a healthy set of working relationships, have developed a clear structure to the process, and a willingness for open discussion to drive future improvement.

We are eager to hear from anyone involved in the process about their experience, perceptions and ideas to help improve it in future.

Thanks

Matt

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Hi Matt, given that the UK Government came to the brink of being kicked out of OGP during the Boris Johnson administration, I hope you can appreciate why people have a healthy dose of skepticism. However, if things have improved since then, that’s great to hear.

Hi Ruchir, and others in the thread

Whilst recent UK OGN work has been difficult, Matt and the team have worked hard under challenging circumstances to get NAP6 to publication before Christmas. I wouldn’t want their commitment to delivery and the collaborative process to be tainted by a previous administration and unsettled times.

As it stands, we hope to move forward in a spirit of positivity and collaboration, and look forward to being able to deliver on the agreed commitments. There is always room for improvement, but from my perspective good progress is being made at the UK level.

As the Scotland civil society chair I feel that from a Scottish perspective, we can both share our successes with our UK colleagues, but also empathise with the challenges recent years have presented, and learn from how the network has worked through those challenges.

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Not a completely unconnected administration, but it’s great to hear that things have improved, and officials are being supported to make positive advances on this agenda.

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Many thanks @matdon,

That was so nice. Could I make one point as we begin this journey. It relates to what Lord Maude said in his November report.

I am conscious that some of what I say sounds critical of the Civil Service…

My criticism is of the Civil Service as an institution, not of civil servants. Indeed, I have found that much of the strongest criticism of the institution comes from civil servants themselves.

If I get 20 likes to this comment from people in “devolved administrations” then I’ll know things have moved on since Mike Bracken and the Guardian guys introduced the UK government’s London office to the idea of gov.uk.

You’re lucky Matt. There’s so much goodwill flowing between the various levels of OGP secretariats in various countries now. The fun bit is that, in the English-speaking world, we are seeing the “intermediates” (tails) starting to wag their National dogs. In Australia, its the “States”. In the UK, its the “Nations”. (damn those Scots :guide_dog:

If we treat this as a change in the way different opening.govs.uk handle their media, we should have some fun with the GDS.gov.uk designers and their international mates. But we do need to change our UK language now.

There are no “devolved administrations”. (that’s just UK civil-service speak for “Nations”). There are only International, National, Intermediate and Local secretariats. The challenge now is to establish/institute a new “framework” by which each secretariat can share their learning. (I take it you are using the same CMS as the other UK secretariat’s admins)

You won’t know. When you give this kind of a challenge to publicly-minded inter-network (R&E) engineers, they run well ahead of their governments’ departments. So there’s a fair amount of understanding to be established between the professional silos. Should be fun.

Hi Simon,

I’m coming back to you on your questions around the Participation Framework Agreement to help clarify some points you raised in your post.

The Scottish Government uses Framework Agreements as a way to efficiently procure goods or services. Suppliers who are successfully appointed to the Framework act like preferred suppliers for carrying out participation work on behalf of the Scottish Government.

The purpose of this Framework Agreement is to support a co-ordinated approach to commissioning participatory work at the Scottish Government. The Framework will act as a mechanism and resource to support staff who are looking to commission participatory engagements with adults. Suppliers who successfully bid to be on the Framework will have been assessed as having the skills and expertise to design and deliver high quality and inclusive engagements with a wide range of people, particularly those identified as being seldom heard and furthest from decision making.

The Framework will therefore support officials to efficiently commission suppliers who have been assessed as having knowledge and experience in this field.

The Prior Information Notice (PIN) works in a way like an expression of interest (EOI). It provides information about our plans to establish this Framework, so that any interested parties are aware. It also enables organisations or suppliers in the sector to register their interest ensuring they receive notifications about Framework deadlines and engagement opportunities that the Scottish Government will be running.

The Prior Information Notice also includes a link to our request for information survey. This survey asks some initial questions to the sector around the proposed Framework Agreement, and responses will help to inform our next steps in terms of engagement with the market on the development of the Framework’s specification. This specification along with all Invitation to Tender (ITT) documents will be issued later this year and will set out the criteria against which suppliers will be assessed if they apply to be listed on the Framework.

The Scottish Government will engage with internal policy areas and the market to finalise this.

Many thanks for this Neisha,
That was so useful.

I’ll make a note of the Scots tender for young people participation here to keep them both on the same thread. You’d understand my focus is on “the infrastructure”. There’s little difference in digital participation platforms (DPP) for different age groups.

I’ll point you at a conversation that Clara from people powered (PP) started about their 2024 platform survey (I can’t point directly at her first entry so please scroll to top). You’ll see they did two surveys. One was for users/suppliers of existing platforms. Each of your potential suppliers will probably have their preference. PP would probably have a list if you want to spread the word about your Framework, and get a feel for different approaches.

BTW, There’s little difference between a DPP and a LMS (Learning Management System). Its just marketing. But important if you’re approaching/marketing to schools.

The other survey was for developers, which takes the longer-term perspective, and usually leads to an enlarged opensource/international approach to co-creating participation platforms. The Dutch, like the Scandinavians, are about 5 years ahead of most OGP members here. They don’t waffle when it comes to writing a spec(ification).

Mind you, they don’t write better than you.