Published on January 5, 2014

Open Government Guide: Citizen Engagement & Public Services

Open Government Partnership

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.

Open Government Guide, Cabinet Office

People all around the world are demanding more openness in government. They are seeking ways for citizens to be able to participate in the decisions that effect them, and for governments to be more transparent, responsive, accountable, and effective. What are the steps that governments can take?

The Open Government Guide

The Open Government Guide highlights practical, measurable, specific and actionable steps that governments can, and are taking across a range of cross-cutting and focused areas. The topics currently covered are listed below, and more will be added in future:

Cross cutting topics

Focused topics

The Open Government Guide has been developed by the Transparency and Accountability Initiative, with each topic having been developed by an expert organisation, to support government and civil society organisations in their ongoing dialogues to develop, update and implement Open Government Action Plans, particularly as part of the Open Government Partnership.

Involve was lead author of the Citizen Engagement and co-author of the Public Services topics of the Open Government Guide. 

Each Topic within the guide offers a flexible menu of  ‘illustrative commitments’.

  • Initial steps – steps that a country can take starting from a relatively low baseline.
  • Intermediate steps – actions that countries can take once they have already made moderate progress
  • Advanced steps – established best practice demonstrated by the most advance performers
  • Innovative steps – new approaches which countries are trying out

For each step the Guide lists relevant standards and guidance, and examples in practice.

  • Recommendations – detailed guidance from expert networks
  • Standards and guidance – key principles, guidance, reports, rankings and tools
  • Country examples – examples in practice from around the world.

The guide is intended to be used in a number of different ways:

  • As an overview of what open government means across a broad range of topics (and which topics might be currently overlooked). Look at the overview page to see all the illustrative commitments across all the topics, or look at the summary pdf for a quick introduction.
  • As a deep dive into a particular topic. Go to an individual topic pages to find an introduction to the topic, and more detailed recommendations, including case examples and standards and guidance.
  • As an initial assessment of actions already taken, and a way to frame the conversation about potential next steps. Use the framework of illustrative commitments in each topic
  • As a hub to share resources. Is there a resource or a case study missing, or an idea for an ‘innovative step’ that hasn’t been captured. Let T/AI know.

Image credit: Cabinet Office

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