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Letter-SP-PAPLSC

From Open Government Pioneer Project

The following letter was openly developed at the Wiki page, Scottish Institutional transparency.

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Letter to Scottish Parliament Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee

The Scottish Government has committed itself to principles of transparency, openness, and accessibility. The First Minister committed her Government to be an "outward looking Government which is more open and accessible to Scotland's peoples than ever before" and for her Government and public services: "to be known for the quality of our relationship with Scotland's communities". Following this statement, and with the support from civil society in Scotland, the Scottish Government successfully applied for Subnational Pioneer Status with the international Open Government Partnership.

As members of the Open Government Network for Scotland, we fully support this ambition.

However, with this status comes both the recognition and responsibility to be a global exemplar of open government. One of the vital mechanisms for assuring Scotland's people of this status is a properly functioning freedom of information law. Recently, concerns have been raised from across society in Scotland regarding the effectiveness of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. Including:

- A coalition of journalists from across the media landscape in Scotland raising concerns about the treatment and management of freedom of information requests.

- Motions passed by the Scottish Parliament condemning the record of response to freedom of information requests.

- Statements from the outgoing Scottish Information Commissioner.

These concerns are at a sufficient level, and represent a significantly wide array of society that we believe the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 should be examined by the Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee.

But important as it is, it is also our view that effective Freedom of Information is merely the tip of the iceberg to ensure transparency and trust in Scotland's public institutions. In due course, this may merit a parliamentary inquiry into the transparency of Scotland's institutions, building on an initial examination of FOI by the Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee.

As members of the Open Government Network, we call for the Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee to review of the effectiveness of FOISA 2002 and stand ready to inform this.

Yours,

Signatories:

Organisations Individuals (members of Open Government Scotland network)
Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO)

Common Weal

Glasgow Council for Voluntary Organisations (GCVS)

Centre for Scottish Public Policy (CSPP)

Voluntary Action East Renfrewshire (VAER)

Open Rights Group (ORG)

Plus Perth and Kinross

Involve

Wellbeing Scotland

Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance (SIAA)

The Democratic Society

STRIVE

Ruchir Shah, SCVO

Robin McAlpine, Common Weal

Helen MacNeil, GCVS

Richard Kerley, CSPP

Anne Kidd, VAER

Matthew Rice, ORG Scotland

Susan Scott, Plus Perth and Kinross

Lisa Mackenzie

Janine Rennie, Wellbeing Scotland

Shaben Begum, SIAA

Lita McHale

Alex Stobart

Linda McLean

Robert Macmillan

Eliot Stark (STRIVE)

Derek Harper