Cabinet Office hails progress on open government action plan

17 Oct 16

The government has reported significant progress towards meeting transparency targets laid out in its open government action plan, according to an examination of progress.

The update on the 2013-15 Open Government National Action Plan was published by the Cabinet Office last week in an end-of-term report. Based on self-assessment and a survey of government and members of civil society, the report found that Whitehall has completed or substantially completed 18 out of 21 commitments.

Achievements under the NAP include introducing a new criminal offence of police corruption, and abolishing bearer shares in order to make it more difficult for criminals to launch the proceeds of corruption.

Other key achievements towards greater transparency included creation of a central register of company beneficial ownership information, which is accessible by the public. Legislation for this is now in place. It will contain details about the ultimate owners and controllers of UK companies in order to tackle the misuse of companies other legal entities.

A revised Local Authorities Data Transparency Code has also been implemented. This requires local authorities to publish key information and data. According to the government, this will “place more power into citizens’ hands and make it easier for local people to contribute to the decision-making process and help shape public service.”

Under the scheme, a National Information Infrastructure has been established, which is an inventory of the most crucial datasets owned by the government, either in published or unpublished form. This is data that will have the broadest and most significant social impact if made available.

The second NAP was launched by the former prime minister David Cameron at the Open Government Partnership Summit in London on 31 October 2013. It is a collaborative plan created in partnership with the Open Government Network, a coalition of active citizens and civil society organisations.

The NAP set out a vision for a more open government, with the aim of enabling the public achieve a better understanding of the workings of government, to hold the government to account more readily, and to influence government through engagement with policy processes and delivery.

Cabinet Office minister Ben Gummer welcomed the progress made so far toward under the NAP, and confirmed the government is committed to keeping transparency at the heart of its approach to government.

“Trust in government is the most important part of the relationship between the citizen and the state,” he stated.

“Being open and transparent is crucial to that relationship. We have taken bold steps to get us to the top of the worldwide transparency league table, but we want to accelerate our efforts to do better still.”

The third NAP was published on 12 May this year as a rolling programme with 13 initial commitments. According to the current end-of-term report, the rolling structure will help central government to introduce new commitments in line with national and international policy developments. Also, many of the targets in the second NAP have follow-up points that will be rolled into the new action plan.

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