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Open Governance

Open governance is a concept that moves beyond the traditional notion of government and describes the relationships between leaders, public institutions and citizens, their interaction and decision-making processes. Open governance is comprised of three main elements – rights, institutions and policies, and tools.

The Open Government Partnership of which the UK is a member, outlines accountability, technology & innovation, citizen participation and transparency as the key components of open governance. TI-UK is working on the following projects relating to open governance:

TACOD (Tackling Corruption through Open Data)

This project (www.tacod.eu) seeks to promote open data as a tool to detect and prevent corruption in Europe. This includes analysis of law practice, public perception and impact in four Pilot EU Countries. TI-UK is focusing on the impact aspect of this analysis which involves:

  • Case study analysis (Freedom of Information and Open Data)
  • Impact of open data – using positive and negative case studies of the use of open information to address corruption
  • Identifying the significance of the open information
  • Identifying enhancements in open data laws, regulations and approaches to facilitate greater anti-corruption outcomes

ANTICORRP

ANTICORRP is an exploration of the motivations and drivers of citizen-based action against corruption.

The 11 research work packages of ANTICORRP cover a wide array of corruption research issues from advancing  the theoretical foundations to historical and ethnographic studies of corruption to large scale survey work. TI’s work package combines a mix of methods and approaches with the aim to gain a better understanding of how citizens experience corruption, what challenges and opportunities they face to do something about it and what mechanisms and tools can best support their engagement against corruption. This is being piloted by a number of Transparency International chapters.

Open Governance Scorecard

How open is the UK government?

The UK Open Governance Scorecard provides a comprehensive review of the UK’s legal framework for transparency, participation and oversight. Critically it also indicates how the system is working in practice.

Our research finds that the UK’s open governance regime is stronger in practice than in law. The UK government has developed its open governance framework – particularly in proactive disclosure transparency and participation – largely through a patchwork of policy initiatives and procedural guidance. With a few notable exceptions, the UK has not developed legislated rights for citizens to access or engage in government, nor created general obligations on public authorities to proactively disclose information or proactively consult. The UK also has a patchwork of different codes of conduct and obligations governing the control and oversight regime at different levels of government.

This approach has strengths. However, there are good reasons to conclude that a light-touch framework, where rights are not enshrined, is not ideal. A policy-driven approach leaves citizens’ vulnerable to changing political winds and to discretion within the public sector about whether and how to commit to openness. Under a policy-driven approach, it is difficult to audit the open data work of public bodies, improve bad practice or achieve consistency where necessary. If an authority wishes to suppress data or access to decision-making, there is little the public or regulators can do to stop it and it would be difficult to find out whether such suppression was happening or not.

This scorecard builds on the ‘in-law’ scorecard, published by TI-UK in March 2014, with an ‘in-practice’ assessment. Together, the report tests the UK against 459 research questions, across 35 standards of open governance. The result is a comprehensive view of strengths and weaknesses in the UK and allows stakeholders to identify particular issues of concern.

The three key recommendations of the report are to:

  1. Empower an open data authority to maintain consistent standards of proactive disclosure across the public sector, with a mandate also covering public services that are outsourced to the private sector, and enable a monitoring and sanctions regime to deliver high and consistent standards.
  1. Reinstate a consistent code of consultation for public sector authorities in particular providing a minimum time period for consultation.
  1. Seek to harmonise the multitude of ethical codes of conduct across the public sector and ensure that registers of interest and gifts and hospitality declarations are published as open data enabling comparability and accountability.

The final report, How Open is the UK Government: UK Open Governance Scorecard Results, can be downloaded here.

To download a methodology description click here.

To download a full data set click here.

The TACOD project has received funding from the EU from the CIPS/ISEC Programmes, DG Home Affairs. Responsibility of the content lies with TI-UK and the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.


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