From Open Government Pioneer Project


This is a space to openly establish and manage the Scotland Open Government Civil Society Network. It has been set up to build openness around the process of building the movement for individual people and civil society who want to make government work better for people through transparency, participation and accountability.

The Open Government Scotland civil society network currently consists of the following:

  • Scotland OGN Forum - a members forum where people can register to engage in the network, connect with others, and engage with feedback from other network members
  • A Steering 'space' - this page, where anyone can engage in the strategic direction of the network
  • A set of network members who have offered to take on a specific delegated role on behalf of this group, as facilitators, coordinators and communicators. We need your input on how best to formalise this (see below).
  • The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is supporting the development of this network with support from the Big Lottery UK as part of the Open Government Pioneers Project UK.
  • A Group based on an open invitation to the Scotland OGN forum and representatives from Scottish Government that met in May 2017 in the High Street, Edinburgh and the Meeting was livestreamed

Why there needs to be a Scotland Civil Society Network

A Scotland Civil Society Network provides the space for dialogue and co-creation within civil society in the area of open government. As stated in the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Participation & Co-Creation Standards, ‘civic participation is a core component of open government, and an essential element of the OGP cycle.’ Active engagement from people, communities and representatives of voluntary and community organisations in developing, securing and implementing lasting open government reforms is as basic expectation of the OGP process.

Current status

This page and the initial content has been set up by Paul Bradley (staff at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations - the network does not currently have a selected coordinator) on 7th April 2017 as a starting framework to prompt contributions to develop a Civil Society Network that can mobilise people around the issue of open government. This is an open wiki that anyone can edit and add or remove content.

Next steps

To ensure that an appropriate process is in place to establish and manage the Scotland Civil Society Network, a possible way forward would be to draw on the guidance and ideas for how to develop a multi-stakeholder forum from the OGP Support Unit. The Multistakeholder Forum Handbook is a publication based on research commissioned by the OGP Support Unit, the purpose of which was to capture different models of dialogue and collaboration and create practical, action oriented guidance and ideas for the OGP community. The following are proposed phases and next steps to establish and manage the Scotland Open Government Civil Society Network, based on the Multistakeholder Forum Handbook.

  • Phase One: Creation of the network
  • Phase Two: Managing the network
  • Phase Three: Network and plan implementation

Development Activity

Phase One: Creation of the Network

(April – May 2017)

Focus: on preparatory work to set up a more formalised Civil Society Network with clear guidelines around purpose, membership, structures using outputs from previous meetings and through open feedback mechanism.
Review of existing Forum meeting outputs to scope relevant feedback around formalising OGN

(April 2017)

Meetings of the forum have taken place since July 2015 and outputs have been recorded and circulated to the group. This work has been facilitated by SCVO and Involve UK, who are coordinating the UK wide Open Government Civil Society Network and supporting work in devolved nations.
Meeting of Forum to discuss next-steps

(April 2017)

A number of Forum members met on April 6th 2017 to discuss civil society engagement around open government in Scotland, and to share thoughts on where we go next in developing Scotland’s Civil Society OGN. Draft notes of the meeting can be found here.
Request for input in the creation of basic structures and operations of the Scotland Civil Society OGN

(April - May 2017)

An online open planning page has been set-up that draws on the discussions at the recent and historical meetings, as well as guidance from the OGP Support Unit. Feedback on the approach outlined on the planning page to formalise the role, purpose and operations of the Network was sought over a 3 week period and a number of forum members fed back either by email or on the page itself.
Draft proposals presented to Forum for discussion and feedback ahead of strategy session

(May 2017)

An initial set of proposals for formalising the Network have been developed. These draft terms of reference serve as a starter for ten and build on the idea of operating an Open Steering Space to encourage broad participation and new energy to open government in the early stages or our Network’s development.

Development Feedback

The prompt questions below have been based on the synopsis for forum/network design and management activities in the Multistakeholder Forum Handbook. They should be seen as a suggested starting point for contributors to support establishing and managing the Scotland Open Government Civil Society Network, but it is not an exhaustive list. Please insert your own questions or edit the current ones, and add your contributions. In particular, please focus on phase one.

Phase One: Creation of the network (How do we start the network?)

Prompt Question Contributions
How can we open up previous dialogues, decisions, meeting notes to ensure activities in the last two years are open to scrutiny in this process?
  • How were previous meetings/stakeholder events in 2015/2016 arranged and advertised? Who was at the table when agreeing Civil Society's suggested actions for the SG National Action Plan 2016? What can we learn from this process to help deliver a more structure, well governed network.
What network model could be used for Scotland’s Civil Society Network? What are the strengths and weaknesses of those models?
  • UK Model: Network seen as good practice for OGP. Steering group responsible for direction of Network. Has been in placed for three years. Steering Group consists of theme leads, for example Public Accountability (Parliament). One civil society, one government lead per theme.
  • Scotland could have similar system, with thematic facilitators that would, where appropriate, be paired with government (theme leads within government). Preference to not having something that's completely unstructured, but a steering group seen to be too restrictive. Need a model that's power with, not power over.
  • Facilitators must not just communicate out but come back to the network to feedback and build the capacity of the group to understand issues and make decisions.
Who at this stage considers themselves as part of Scotland’s Civil Society Network and why? What role do you see yourself playing?
  • More of a forum at present. No clear governance, structure, vision, purpose and defined membership.
  • SCVO will help to coordinate the development of an official Scotland Open Government Civil Society Network as openly as possible, using this platform for people to shape this development.
How can we communicate this process to ensure as many actors can take part in this initial set-up process? (mapping of routes to diverse audiences)
  • Mapping of expertise and other networks to reach out to is crucial at this stage. TSIs, Knowledge Hub, Scottish Data Hub, SCVO networks, Open Government Forum.
Will the chosen model require selection of people in some form (coordinator, core group etc.)? If so, what is the mechanism and is it fair and transparent.  
  • Consistency should be at forefront of mind - government must be able to work with a familiar face.
  • How do we decide who meets with the Scottish Government?
  • Rather than selection, people could volunteer to take on a facilitator role of some sorts (communicators that take on a role on behalf of the network, tasked with doing something).
What should the next steps be for establishing Scotland’s Civil Society Network?
********Please insert any other prompt questions**********

Phase Two: Managing the network (How should the network work?)

Prompt Question Contributions
What is the purpose / vision of the network?
Who should be permitted to be a member? On what basis?
What should be expected of members?
What roles does the network need (e.g. coordinator, chair, steering committee, spokespeople, thematic leads, etc.)? How should they be selected and rotated?
How should the network identify the information needs of networks participants? What are those needs?
How should information be shared within the network? What should the network’s communication system look like?
What should the frequency and format of meetings be? (Monthly, bimonthly, quarterly, additional, online, face to face etc.)
How should the network make decisions? What rules should be established?
How should the network coordinate with local government, national government? What will the coordination mechanism look like?    
How should the network coordinate with wider civil society that aren’t currently part of the network? What will the coordination mechanism look like?    
How should the network develop its assets, resources, capabilities, capacity etc.?
How will terms of reference be developed? UK OGN ToR for reference:
Who should be able to speak on the behalf of the network? On what basis?
********Please insert any other prompt questions**********

Phase Three: Network and plan implementation

Prompt Question Contributions
How will the network conduct awareness raising activities to boost civil society engagement in developing a future plan or engaging in current plans?
What should the network's method be for developing, securing and implementing lasting open government reforms in an OGP plan?
How will the network monitor and scrutinize progress on the current plan?
********Please insert any other prompt questions**********

Network Meetings

We would also like to set-up the next meeting of the OGN for the end of June 2017. Some suggested areas of focus for the meeting are:

Suggested area of focus Comment
Open budgeting (in view of the Budget Process Review Group)
Participatory Budgeting
Review of the National Performance Framework (Open Government themes)
Engagement with the NAPs (current NAP and crowdsourcing approach for future plans)

Network Structures (draft proposals)

As the Scotland Civil Society OGN grows and becomes more active, there will be a need to formalise the structure of the network to enable it to effectively co-ordinate action.

The Network has adopted the following loose structure in the early stages of development to encourage broad participation and new energy and commitment to open government and the OGN in Scotland. This structure is experimental and is open for testing and evaluation. 

  • Open Steering Space
  • Network Facilitators
  • Mini-discussions
  • Coordinator

Open Steering Space

An open steering space exists for those interested in steering the development of the open government movement and associated network in Scotland. This space is designed for individuals to play a more active role in facilitating the direction of the Scotland Civil Society OGN, but does not act as an executive group of experts.

Through adopting an open space, the Network ensures that decision making and ideas formulation is open to as diverse group of people as possible and is not restricted to a closed group. The space is open for any Network Member to participate in and serves as a platform to develop the Network’s strategy, communications and engagement plans in an open and collaborative manner.

The activity of the steering space will be communicated on the OpenGovScot Forum and a meeting open to all Network members will take place at least once every quarter. This meeting will be livestreamed here and recorded.

Individuals participating within this space are responsible for:

  • Supporting and overseeing the work of the OGN Coordinator and ensuring the smooth running of the OGN
  • Expanding the membership and reach of the OGN
  • Deciding on areas of focus and discussion
  • Deciding on necessary facilitators who host mini-discussions and/or engage with external parties


Facilitators exist to host mini-discussions with the Network based around a particular theme or issue (for example, participatory budgeting). 

Facilitators also provide the link between external parties – such as government – and the Scotland Civil Society OGN on their particular theme or issue. In the case of government,

Facilitators act as brokers who meet and engage with government counterparts and report back to the Network.  

Any Scotland Civil Society OGN member can volunteer themselves to be a facilitator of a particular theme or issue. (MORE DETAIL REQUIRED ON SELECTION)

Facilitators have a particular responsibility to abide by and exhibit the OGN’s principles. Any member that does not abide by them can be required to step down by the Network.

Suggested Facilitator Role Person One Person Two Person Three
Participatory Budgeting (current NAP commitment) INSERT NAME
Citizen Participation (current NAP commitment)
Progressing Fairer Scotland (current NAP commitment)
Financial Transparency (current NAP commitment)
National Performance Framework (current NAP commitment)
Parliamentary Engagement
Health and Social Care Engagement
Education Engagement
Environment Engagement
Community Engagement
Local Government Engagement


Mini-discussions in the Network will generally involve fewer participants than usual steering space meetings. They are hosted by Facilitators of a particular theme or issue, who are tasked with reporting into the OpenGovScot list as well as the steering space meetings that take place on a quarterly basis. Any Network member can take part in a mini-discussion and they do not need to be considered an expert to contribute.

Network Communications

Communications Plan

This is a starter framework for the Scotland Civil Society Network Communications Plan. This plan will help the network to identify methods, moments and opportunities to prepare communications and act effectively and openly. This framework can be adjusted as required by contributors.

Why do we want to communicate with these audiences?  (What’s the purpose?)

Phase One Phase Two Phase Three

Who do we want to communicate it to?  (Who’s the audience?)

Phase One Phase Two Phase Three

What do you want to communicate?  (What’s the message?)

Phase One Phase Two Phase Three

How do we want to communicate it?  (What communication channels will the network use?)

Phase One Phase Two Phase Three

Who should we contact and what should we do in order to use those channels?  (How will the network distribute the message?)

Phase One Phase Two Phase Three

Developing Terms of Reference

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