Open Government Steering Group - First meeting - Notes

The Steering Group, made up of civil society and government members, met for the first time on Thurs 21st June in Edinburgh. Please see the below notes for a record of what was said. Comments welcome.

This note will be published on the Scottish Government site shortly - currently waiting on a new page being created for this new governance sturcture. This will be an official place for publications and information on the steering group as the next action plan progresses.

General Medical Council Boardroom, Gentle’s Entry, Edinburgh EH8 8PJ
21 June 2018 9.30 – 11.00


Welcome and Introductions

Co-chairs Minister for Parliamentary Business, Joe Fitzpatrick MSP, and Lucy McTernan, representing the OGP Civil Society network, welcomed members to the refreshed OGP steering for Scotland.

After introductions, the group was asked to share what interests them most about open government. These interests from the group included:

  • increasing trust in government;
  • opening up systems and organisations so people can influence design and delivery of public services and procurement;
  • showing how government works and how decisions are made;
  • engaging the public in decisions that matter to them;
  • data literacy and transforming relationships between citizen and the state.

Open Government Strategic Framing

Lucy McTernan set out the framing from civil society, noting that open government is about moving towards progressive openness in government at all levels, and an ambition to widen OGP by showing how its relevant to others agendas in civil society and beyond.

Doreen Grove outlined the government’s perspective on strategic framing, recognising Scotland’s progress from Pioneer status to being recognised on a global level now for innovative progress, and the importance of going beyond just a number of commitments in a plan to actually being an open government.

Emma Harvey from the Secretariat reflected on the recent report from the IRM noting areas for improvement for the next plan (namely governance structures, wider public engagement in developing the commitments), and updated the group on the current timeline:

Current Timeline:

  • Action Plan to be submitted by end September 2018
  • Engagement process on-going (2 public events already held, with more upcoming end July/August, and online ideas site here:
  • Final public engagement event to be held in Edinburgh in August (21st Aug tbc)

Strategic Priorities and working model

The group was asked to consider the strategic priorities for Open Government in Scotland over the next two years and how they wished to work to support those ambitions.

Key points made:

  • The importance of partnership between government and civil society was emphasised heavily, with a real feeling in the room of wanting to be like a team. They expressed interest in building relationships between members which will help them to have honest conversations later down the line when things may be more tricky in developing the action plan.
  • There was recognition that there is a broader open government agenda than the action plan. The group intend to work collectively towards a broader vision of moving to a culture of openness and changing how government is done, which means going beyond the 3-5 commitments in the action plan.
  • With this bigger ambition in mind, the group recognised that they may need to distil these down to what’s practical for the action plan.
  • The group felt there was a need to develop language to talk about open government because it sometimes needs translated to make it relevant to individuals in real terms.
  • It was noted that the Steering Group is all about partnership and working together, and while the members might be familiar with this, it will be a very different mind-set for many people, and the group should be aware of this if actively pushing out beyond usual networks to further open government.
  • There was some concern from the group about challenges, and making sure the group is not naïve to the lived reality of the political system they are operating in and what it could take to get cross-party support, which can make pushing this agenda difficult.

The group also welcomed observers at this first meeting, recognising the value in others contributions, and formally welcomes observers to attend future meetings.

Next steps

The secretariat will share some options for collaborative working going forward for decision, but some options mentioned at the meeting included: Google doc for collaborative drafting in the open, a forum for discussion or Trello to see progress, timeline and milestones.

Having reviewed the actions and notes, the Secretariat propose the following topics for the agenda at the next meeting:

  • Defining roles and responsibilities
  • Clarifying how Steering Group will operate


Date for next meeting to review commitments (August) – possible dates to be circulated by Secretariat


Joe Fitzpatrick – Minister for Parliamentary Business
Stephen Gallagher – Interim Director Communities and Local Government
Barbara Allison - Director Communications, Ministerial Support & Facilities
Doreen Grove – Head of Open Government
Scott Bell - Head of Procurement Development and Construction Review Division
Douglas McLaren – Deputy Director Public Service Reform Division
Emma Harvey – Secretariat
Niamh Webster – Secretariat

Civil Society
Lucy McTernan - Co-Chair
Shaben Begum – Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance
Eddy Borges-Rey – The University of Stirling
Elric Honore – Fife Centre for Equalities
Kaela Scott – Involve
Alex Stobart - MyDex

Paul Bradley – Open Government Network Coordinator, SCVO
Simon Cameron – Participatory Budgeting Development, COSLA
Daren Fitzhenry – Information Commissioner

Catherine Gee – Keep Scotland Beautiful
Audrey MacDougall - Deputy Director: Communities Analysis Division and Chief Social Researcher
Colin Cook - Director Digital
Roger Halliday – Chief Statistician and Head of Performance

Note prepared by Secretariat, Ingage, Scottish Government
25 June 2018