Published on November 25, 2013

Lessons in transparency for the UK Government | Guardian Public Leaders livechat roundup

Open Government Partnership UK Open Government Network

By Tim Hughes

Tim is Involve's incoming director, taking over from 21st January 2017. Tim has led campaigns and advocacy on open government; advised national, devolved and local governments, civil society organisations and multilateral institutions; and researched and written on topics including public participation, open government, democratic reform, civil society advocacy and public administration.

On Friday I took part in a Guardian Public Leaders Network livechat on open government and the Open Government Partnership in the UK. The full discussion is available here. But if you haven’t got the time to go through the full 115 comments, Tamsin Rutter at the Guardian has put together a roundup of the discussion here.

And to help you even further, here’s my pick of the best bits from the Guardian’s best bits:

Joe Powell is the deputy director of the Open Government Partnership support unit:

We need to build an ongoing dialogue between government and civil society: That was one of the big successes of the UK’s OGP experience. Not every country will be ready for that kind of co-creation exercise but there are intermediate steps that can be taken to improve engagement.

Tim Hughes is a researcher at Involve and coordinator of the UK’s OGP civil society network:

Data is prone to misuse by politicians: Ministers are often very happy to talk about transparency when it’s in relation to the work of others, but not so keen when it means something for how they operate.

David Branch is director of public sector analytics for Deloitte:

Role of intermediaries in the open data movement: Increasingly the role of intermediary organisations that collate, combine, analyse and present government open data, will be critical to stimulate the open data market.

Shonali Routray is the legal director of Public Concern at Work:

Open government means more than just open data: It also means ensuring basic democratic concepts such as freedom of speech and speaking truth to power.

Javier Ruiz is a campaigner at Open Rights Group:

When we talk of accountability we need to be clearer: Many open data programmes are putting the spot on the middle managers, while removing the accountability of the officials who set up the framework. So if a department under-performs because its funding has been massively cut, who should be accountable?

Irina Bolychevsky is government open data specialist and CKAN.org lead at the Open Knowledge Foundation:

Open data in and of itself is not transformational: We need open processes to understand the meaning and provenance of data. Further, we then need citizen engagement and participation, and more scrutiny and publication of processes within government.

Elke Loeffler is chief executive of Governance International:

We need to be aware that not all citizens are ‘techy’: There are some great initiatives across the UK to give more marginalised citizens a voice are the social media surgeries. The surgeries give citizens from all walks of life a space to share and learn.

Claudia Megele is vice chair of Tower Hamlets police and community safety board and senior lecturer at Middlesex University:

Transparency does not always lead to greater accountability: Some think of transparency as a panacea for all kinds of governance “ill” in the public sector such as poor citizen trust, corruption, bad performance, low accountability and power abuse by public officials. Transparency is a powerful tool but the link between transparency and accountability is not always in place.

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