At our last Meetup it was mentioned that we were looking to have our first Multistakeholder Forum (MSF) with the government this year.
Whilst we have been assured the Minister (Julia Lopez) is keen to champion Open Government, she could not make the meeting scheduled this year.
So instead it will be a Pre-MSF Strategic Engagement meeting as we felt strongly that it could not be a formal MSF without a Minister in attendance.
At this meeting senior civil servants will meet with representatives of this committee and some invited voices to talk about a number of themes. These are themes identified by both government and civil society.
It is likely these themes will be the basis of working groups / workshops next year that would involve a wider cross-section of civil society.
These are the themes identified so far:
Open Contracting / Procurement;
Data Ethics, Bias, Diversity;
Health Data (Coronavirus-related);
Democracy / Democratic processes.
What do you think of these themes? Are they the right areas? Would you like to suggest more?
If so please reply to this message as soon as possible (ideally in the next 24 hours) and we will take them to our meeting with civil servants for discussion.
I am conscious that at the last Meetup we mentioned directly involving the wider network in the MSF and we will get there, particularly as now we have more time, but until then your thoughts on themes would be really welcome.
Another theme could be Global Britain - information on the UK’s interactions with other countries.
There are many gaps in the information available about the UK’s interactions with other countries - such as arms exports, loans, investment data, asset recovery, environmental / HR impact of MNEs etc. The UK can’t hope to achieve its international objectives, and civil society can’t hold government to account for those without that data. Also see FCDO launch offers opportunity for more coherent policy – Development Monitor . This is particularly, but not only, an issue for its interactions with developing countries.
The narrower and more specific the list the better in my experience: too many fronts leaves space for Government to focus on the easy options and ignore the more difficult.
In that vein, I would suggest Open Contracting has to be a priority right now: as reforms won through OGP process risk being forever undermined by current procurement scandals.
I might suggest adding (though colleagues at Publish What You Fund might have better sense) Aid Transparency to the list - particularly given this was previously also an area where we had earlier commitments and progress through OGP - but where current cuts to DFID/FCO put progress and UK leadership on the issue at threat.
I’d place less emphasis in forum on topics where we’ve not got a specific worked up reform to propose.
Thanks again to all doing the detailed work on this right now,
Hi Kevin, can we share here the full list of names of all the people on the civil society side that have been invited by the steering group to join today’s strategic meeting with government. It’s important the OGN is aware who is speaking on their behalf. Thanks.
Some thoughts and reflections on the environment and Freedom of information strands to inform the strategic MSF discussion today. @Gavin_Freeguard@MichelleBrook
• Lots of data flows between agencies, governments and commissioned bodies – danger that info will be in a closed loop
• Open data and transparency will be key to the credibility of the concepts and proposals adopted, given the amount of misinformation flying around.
• International agencies will be seeking credibility in any platforms given to energy companies (who are the UK Gov’s principal partners) and other contracted bodies. Many can civil society will be watching closely for any green washing by extractive industries.
• Devolved government will be scrutinising the approach taken, given hosting in Glasgow, and Scotland being in the spotlight.
• Footprint transparency will also be under the spotlight, especially if a hybrid conference with online is held.
• Information circulating in the social media sphere may be very different to information within the conference loop, but will play just as important a part in public support for any proposals. Opengov and participation in particular, can help with this.
• Important to note aspects of FOI devolved such as public bodies, and increasingly extended to public services pertaining to devolved functions. So important to be mindful of this in the scope of any commitments.
• No FOI objectives in previous NAP, yet FOI is seen as one of the most important opengov markers by OGP internationally. Any absence here would be noted, especially if it is in the Scottish and NI action plans.
• Aim should be for proactive publishing rather than reactive publishing and a shared four nations message on this would be ideal.
• Covid delays in place must not become normalised. IRM recommendations here will be important to ensure credibility of FOI, and by extension the UK’s open government action plan more generally given the importance placed on FOI internationally.