Dear Network Members,
We’re pleased to say we received 7 nominations for the Scottish Civil Society OGN Committee and as this is within the number of current vacant positions (9/11) we won’t require an election process to take place. We hope you’ll join us in welcoming our new committee members who will join our continuing members, Lucy McTernan and Alex Stobart. We’ll post updates on the work and progress of the committee here and expect you’ll be hearing from them directly in the coming weeks and months. By means of an introduction, we’ve created some biographies below and we’re sure you’ll get to know them more as they take up their positions.
Susan & Sam, SCDC
Host Secretariat for Scotland OGN Committee & OGP Civil Society Steering Group
You can read more about each new member:
Working across the third sector and education has given me a highly developed understanding of the issues that people face and how they can develop their voice and agency. I have also had the privilege of being able to think and write in the field of community development, writing a number of books and articles on the subject. This has given me an understanding of social justice, human rights, and the power of collective human action and how they are interlinked.
Over the past 20 years, I have trained hundreds of community workers, youth workers and adult educators who now support local democracy, participation, and community action across the country and beyond; all of which are the foundations for a healthy dynamic between government and wider civil society. I have extensive experience of working with organisations to develop community and social action. My roles have included board membership of the International Association for Community Development, the Federation for Community Development Learning and the Galgael Trust, Govan.
I have a foundational belief that people should have influence over the issues that impact on them and their communities, enabling both individuals and our society as a whole to flourish. This influence is facilitated by citizens having good access to information, learning for democracy, structures that enable genuine dialogue and a sincere commitment to transparency on all sides.
I am struck by the potential for a genuine partnership between government and people offered by this project, yet history points to the difficulty of achieving such an outcome. There is a crucial balance of values, principles, experience and theory required to deal with these complex processes and successfully develop dynamic, democratic processes. I believe I have something to add to that mix.
I work with the Third Sector Interface here in East Ayrshire. The position I hold works in strong partnership with the Health & Social Care Partnership and I have a good understanding of the impact that local government has on communities and how it ties into national strategies.
I am experienced in managing teams, chairing meetings and forums and most importantly getting people involved in their community.
I volunteer as secretary to my local Tenant & Resident Association however, I feel that my volunteer and work life experience is insignificant as first and foremost I am a citizen with a passion for my environment, helping people achieve their goals and developing strong connections with people around me.
I am genuinely interested in the work carried out by the group and would like to be part of an innovative, inclusive steering group. I fully endorse equality and inclusion in every aspect of my life (working and personal) and think that this group encapsulates this.
I would like to join Scotland’s OGP Steering Group to support in improving democratic participation, transparency and accountability for government. I work for an organisation called the Democratic Society, which is a non-profit organisation, network of people working to create a democracy that works for the 21st century. We undertake practical projects, conduct research and build new democratic infrastructure that lets people involve themselves in the decisions that shape their lives.
I feel there are current challenges with OG around communication and making OG clear, understandable and meaningful for people and also ensuring there is joined up working with decision making and engagement initiatives happening across Scotland through various strategies and organisations. Capturing and sharing learning from our successes and challenges- what works and what doesn’t (from Scotland and beyond) is also key and it would be fantastic to see more of this in a transparent, accountable way. I would also like to be a part of how dialogue and innovation is developed in open governance, bringing in more diversity and different voices into the mix, including young people and seldom heard or ‘easy to ignore’ groups to make OG more meaningful. I believe the more diverse people you have in a room to tackle challenges, the more impactful ideas and innovative solutions you can get out of it.
I have interests and work in and across inclusive, accessible communication, citizen engagement, digital, participatory budgeting (PB), co-design, deliberative democracy and am a circle member of the First Minister’s National Advisory Council for Women & Girls to tackle gender inequality in Scotland. In a nutshell, I would like to be a part of the OGP steering group to help bring about systems change and ensure it is meaningful for people.
For Scotland’s OGP, I could bring civic engagement expertise in engaging and working with the wider public, developing communications plans and explaining complex ideas into understandable concepts, network and stakeholder mapping, and considerations around accessible and inclusive design to bring in more voices into decision making and awareness to what open government means and is in Scotland. I could also bring in wider organisational expertise from Democratic Society where we have colleagues and networks across Europe and specialists in participatory democracy, research and design. We have a strong connection with the Open Governance Network for Europe, a joint initiative of Democratic Society and Open Government Partnership to connect and drive debate, learning, and innovation in open governance to improve democratic participation, transparency, and accountability in the EU.
My entire professional career has been spent looking at data, predominantly within public sector leisure services, learning and understanding about their challenges as they strive to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of the communities they serve in Scotland.
With the Scottish Government currently developing their third Open Government Action Plan for Scotland, where open data and digital technologies play an important role within this process, I feel that I have a skillset that would bring positive benefits to the Group.
I believe I would bring a multitude of skills from both a public and private sector approach to the table, that have been further refined by my direct experience of seeing the power of collaboration of different skill sets coming together, driven by a common interest for a better good for everyone.
Prior to this application, I had no awareness of the OGN Scotland and I am keen to learn more and participate with how the Civil Society Network through the OGP Scotland can help to effect change and accountability for the way Government works, so that Scotland’s citizen’s benefit from an approach that promotes transparency, engagement and accountability, which underpins their vision.
I believe that I would bring fresh ideas to the table, where I can often see viewpoints from ‘both sides of the fence’, where I am driven by what the outcome and value for those concerned would be and how best we get to and deliver that outcome.
I am from an IT background, that has spent the last 25 years + looking at and using data from leisure services in the public sector in Scotland to help these organisations use and understand their data better, to help drive their decision making and improve their performance.
As well as running my own data analytics and consultancy business, I am the Engagement and Operations Manager for the Scottish Leisure Network Group (SLNG), which is a voluntary-run organisation representing Scottish not-for-profit leisure operators across the local authority, charitable trust, university and education sectors.
I’m passionate about breaking down the barriers to accessing data and using data well, through collaboration and raising awareness of the advantages of this approach and providing evidence that data can be used better for everyone’s benefit.
Although I have no direct experience of open data, I have recently been introduced to the Scottish Cities Alliance, participating in a recent workshop and I am a member of Location Data Scotland, where I am keen to understand more about the landscape and where the challenges lie.
As a Senior Project Officer for Involve in Scotland I would value the opportunity to contribute to the OGP – especially as we begin a new Parliamentary Session and a new Action Plan. Involve’s vision is for a vibrant UK democracy with people at the heart of decision making, and our principles of Openness, Participation and Deliberation share much in common with the OGP. Membership of the Steering Group would enable me to share the knowledge and experience from the team at Involve and would also be a valuable tool to assist my work delivering Involve’s strategic outcomes in Scotland. I also consider that the OGP will be vital to ensuring the recovery from the Covid pandemic is fully transparent, participative and accountable.
I am an experienced project manager with a background in democracy, participation and human rights. I have a strong sense of strategic overview and value evidence based policy making that can deliver impact. I employ a collaborative approach and am committed to equity, diversity and inclusion in my work.
I have experience liaising with elected decision makers and senior civil servants, including analysing existing activity and advocating for change, as well as identifying opportunities for innovation. I have undertaken qualitative and quantitative research in relation to elections and improving the diversity of representation in public bodies. I ran the Electoral Reform Society Scotland’s ‘Democracy Max’ project. I have recently completed a report for the Scottish Government’s Digital Intelligence Network in relation to public engagement in understanding data collection, processing and use.
My work across the third sector has always included bringing people into decision making processes and ensuring they are able to influence decision making in an informed and confident manner. I have an excellent working knowledge of Scottish and UK Parliaments and Governments. I will also be able to draw on internal Involve experience of the OGN in the UK and Northern Ireland contexts.
I have been a member of the Leith Chooses Steering Group since 2010 just after it was started. I joined as a Community Councilor because it involved the Leith Community in deciding how part (now all) of the Community Grant Fund, given by City of Edinburgh Council, would be distributed to local charities who made an application for support. Although not aware of it at the time, I realised later this was PB in action. A philosophy I fully support. I hope this steering group will take this way of decision making forward. I Hope that over time a much greater proportion of annual council budgets will be spent based on decisions that directly involve the local community through a system of PB. This is not an easy option for local councilors to accept as it reduces their control over how local decisions are made by passing some of those powers to the community. This opens the way for greater openness in government at local and thereby meeting the objectives set at the national level in Scotland.
Before I retired and became involved in the local Leith Community Council and also as Secretary of a Friends Group interested in the Water of Leith I was a corporate senior manager in a large Scottish energy company. During this time I gained a postgraduate Masters in Business Administration. This together with my work that involved creating local and national working standards for the electricity industry needed the leadership skills that drew people from across the industry to work together as a team. This also required a knowledge of the existing working practices and how these, along with the experience of the team, could be updated to meet the changing requirements of health and safety legislation.
Being a community councillor and a member of a local pressure group has shown me the importance of having community involvement/support. This gives the community much greater influence over the decisions that were once the prerogative of a few local councillors. I advocate the need for greater openness and seen the benefit over the years of Leith Chooses. I feel I have skills and experience that with contribute to the work of delivering the greater openness, transparency and accountability that are currently the key objectives of the 2018 – 2020 OGP Action Plan and should continue to be for the future.
I have had a long-standing interest and involvement in open government and open data, with a particular focus on fiscal and corporate transparency.
I have spent the last few years working with governments and civil society to implement beneficial ownership transparency internationally. Much of that work has taken place through the Open Government Partnership, and I have seen how access to information and the involvement of a broad range of citizens can create better policy and lead to better outcomes. I am now keen to bring that experience to Scotland’s OGP Steering Group.
I am particularly keen to join the Steering Group now, at what feels like a pivotal moment for open government. The global commitment to transparency, openness and collaboration in government has been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenge for the recovery will be to demonstrate the value of open government in a way that secures its long term future and ensures that it can not be turned off or deprioritised in an emergency or for political expediency.
With that in mind, I would like to build on the momentum from previous National Action Plans and help develop an ambitious NAP that fits into a strategic vision of what open government could deliver for Scotland.
I have a lot of experience with open data, data standards and fiscal and corporate transparency. I am keen to use these skills to help Scotland build and implement a National Action Plan that has real impact and creates a long-term information infrastructure for open government.
I am a technical specialist in beneficial ownership transparency. Much of my work has been undertaken to fulfil commitments for the OGP. I have direct experience of supporting governments to implement National Action Plan commitments on beneficial ownership (including Ukraine, Nigeria and Kyrgyz Republic) and of working with civil society on effective advocacy and data literacy. This work has led to changes in laws, regulations and technical systems, and given me an insight into the complexities of implementing NAP commitments that I hope will be an asset to Scotland’s OGP Steering Group.
I also have wide-ranging experience in creating and using open data for transparency, including open data on procurement, grants and international aid. I am also interested in creating new data to improve service delivery and accountability, working for example with the University of Oxford’s Government Outcomes Lab on an openly licensed database of impact bonds, which make payments for government services based on outcomes.
I have spoken and written regularly about data and transparency, including at international events and webinars. I would be happy to do the same to promote the Open Government Network in Scotland.