Facebook  Twitter  Youtube  ISSUU  RSS  Email

Media Contacts

Press Office
+ 44 (0)20 3096 7695
Out of hours: Weekends; Weekdays (17.30-21.30): +44 (0)79 6456 0340


TransparencyUK Are you interested in receiving an exclusive invitation to our full range of 2020 events - including our popular An… https://t.co/XCBYT2bQqu
TransparencyUK This is a welcome outcome for investigative journalism and for those working to expose allegations of #corruption. https://t.co/ECz6hWmhd0
TransparencyUK ICYMI: UK businesses have a vital role to play in promoting integrity and tackling #corruption https://t.co/HJtG2Zx3NY

Tag Cloud

Allegations anti-bribery anti-corruption summit AntiCorruption anti money laundering bribery BSkyB Cabinet Office companies conflict Corporate Cooperation corrupt capital Corruption corruption in the uk employment film financial secrecy Governance Government health Home Office journalists Letter Leveson Inquiry London Merkel metropolitan police moneylaundering money laundering offshore tax open governance pharmaceuticals PHP police ethics Prime Minister Register of Interests Research safe havens Social Accountability Trustees UK Unexplained Wealth Orders unmask the corrupt UWO vacancies

Stay Informed

Sign up for updates on Transparency International UK's work,corruption news from around the world and fundraising and events updates.

Open Governance in the UK: The Risk of In-Practice Supremacy

Written by Philip Jones on Sunday, 26 April 2015

The UK Government pushes open-governance well in-practice rather than in-law, leaving it vulnerable to changing winds that could isolate citizens and derail efforts to ensure open-governance in the UK.


The recently published TI-UK report How Open is the UK Government: UK Open Governance Scorecard Results analysed the in-practice and in-law ability of citizen’s to access information about their government as well as their participation in government.  The results found that the UK’s open governance regime is stronger in-practice than in law – scoring 44.6 per cent and 30.2 per cent respectively.

While the UK has been able to take advantage of being strong in open governance in-practice such as moving quickly to open up large amounts of public data much of it has emanated from the UK Government’s recent enthusiasm for such openness.  Recent examples include setting out the Open Government Partnership UK National Action Plan 2013 to 2015 and the UK National Anti-Corruption Plan published in December 2014.

However, the strong score of open governance produced in-practice has developed through a patchwork of policies that have failed to establish citizen rights leaving it only as good as whoever is in power driving the policies. 

Due to the lack of clear government rules citizens receive varying levels of participation from agencies.  For instance, when confronting autonomous public agencies and oversight institutions, UK citizens have a “weak hand” to play as citizens have no explicit right to participate in public policy or the governance of institutions. Thus citizens are left to engage with agencies on agencies’ own terms, and at their own will.

Citizens cannot force discussion on an issue and have no means to ensure that agencies will listen to them and incorporate their experiences or opinions into their approach.

Moreover, while the Government has been widely receptive to pushing open governance it could be all over if political winds changed overnight. Hypothetically, if the Government and policy makers decided they no longer wished to continue on the current open data agenda path, there would be no legal obligation to ensure the delivery of the promised open data policy.

What is needed is not an overhaul of the open-governance system that currently presides over the UK, but an in-law commitment to continue pushing for transparency and open governance.  Among many options available to those taking executive action on open governance, the Report’s first recommendation to “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” would be a fine start.

To read and download the UK Open Governance Scorecard click here.


Read 2030 times Last modified on Wednesday, 11 November 2015 10:07

Philip Jones

Philip is TI-UK's Communications Officer. You can follow him on Twitter at @PBentleyJones

Leave a Reply

Contact Us | Sitemap | Privacy

UK Charity Number 1112842

Transparency International UK is a chapter of