Open Government Manifesto plan

DRAFT - Open for comments

1. What

The UK General Election in May 2015 presents both an opportunity and challenge to the progression of open government reforms in the UK. On the one hand, the experience of other Open Government Partnership member countries has shown that momentum on the initiative is often lost following an election. On the other, the election period presents an opportunity to secure commitments to open government from across the main political parties to not only maintain, but increase, momentum. As importantly, it presents an opportunity to mobilise civil society groups and citizens, and broaden the open government conversation within the UK.

This document sets out a plan for developing an open government manifesto to capitalise on this opportunity.

2. Why

The development of an open government manifesto would:

  1. Help to identify priorities for reform, providing a starting place for engagement with a new Government for the development of the UK’s next OGP National Action Plan.
  2. Help to secure high level commitments from the main political parties to open government and the Open Government Partnership.
  3. Help ensure that support and momentum for the OGP is not lost in any potential transition between Governments, and secure an explicit commitment to continued support for the Open Government Partnership.

The process of developing the manifesto would:

  1. Engage a wider and more diverse range of civil society organisations and citizens (outlined below) in discussions about open government and identifying priorities for reform, and encourage them to join the CSO network
  2. Strengthen the core network of civil society groups involved in the OGP
  3. Use a range of methods and experimental techniques to engage a wider audience in the open government conversation.
  4. Global leadership - learning from what others have done and transferring our learning to others.

3. Who

3.1 Participants

In support of the objectives above, the intention is that the process for developing an open government manifesto engages both those who have already been involved in the OGP in the UK and individuals, groups and organisations who have not.

Target group

Existing members of the UK OGP CSO network

Civil society organisations with an interest in governance, accountability, data, and other related issues

Civil society organisations with an interest in policy (e.g. campaigners, think tanks, etc.)

Civil society organisations delivering services

Campaign groups


Active citizens

Young people / youth participation fora (e.g. UKYP)

Socio-demographic information should be collected from participants to track participation.

3.2 Audience

The resultant manifesto and communication of it will be targeted at:




A media strategy will be developed.

4. How

4.1. Gathering commitments

The objectives and intended participants suggest the need for a mixed engagement methodology. The diversity of the intended participants will require that:



Potential participants can contribute in a range of different ways, whether drafting and proposing commitments, or commenting on or supporting those suggested by others.

An online crowdsourcing approach would support this set of objectives.

Targeted outreach and engagement is conducted to involve groups who would not otherwise typically engage.

A programme of targeted face-to-face outreach would support this set of objectives.

4.1.1. Crowdsourcing

The crowdsourcing element will be open to any participant to propose a specific commitment for a government to adopt post election that would contribute to enhancing government openness. Other participants would subsequently be able to comment on and signal their support for commitments.

Members of the UK OGP CSO network will be asked to develop ideas to populate the platform before launch. The intention is that this will help to ensure that there is activity from the beginning, and will encourage visitors to contribute their own ideas or respond to existing ones.

4.1.2. Targeted outreach

A series of events held in locations around the UK will be used to engage different individuals, groups and organisations in contributing to the manifesto. These will be a mixture of dedicated workshops organised by Involve and pre-existing events on which we can piggy-back.

These events should:

Other ideas to be explored include organising a single week of activity and action to gather ideas, and developing a simple toolkit for holding an “Open Government Conversation”.

CSO network members will be asked to engage their networks in contributing to the manifesto. Other relevant civil society, campaign and citizen networks will be encouraged to do likewise.

Social media will be used to provide updates on the progress of the manifesto and to engage others in contributing towards it. Articles will be written for relevant media outlets to do likewise. Contributors to the manifesto and CSO network members will be encouraged to communicate their contributions and the manifesto with their networks.

4.2. Development of the manifesto

The development of the manifesto will require the selection of commitments from the crowdsourcing process and the drafting of a narrative that ties the manifesto together.

4.2.1. Selection of commitments

There are a number of options for selecting commitments to be included in the manifesto, with a range of advantages and disadvantages.






All proposed commitments, on the sole criteria that they meet the definition of open government, are included within the manifesto.

+ All contributions are seen to be valued and treated equally, encouraging involvement

+ Ease of administering

+ Expressions of support for commitments would effectively signal priority issues

- Results in large number of commitments, with varied quality, which harms advocacy


At the end of the crowdsourcing process, participants are asked to vote on which commitments should be included within the manifesto. The top X number (to be defined) are included.

+ Result in fewer, higher quality commitments, aiding advocacy

+ Open and transparent process for selecting commitments, with votes counting equally

- Voting likely to be dominated by those already heavily engaged and/or well resourced

- Benefits campaign groups who can mobilise large numbers of individuals to vote


Participants are asked to register their support for commitments during the process. The top X number (to be defined) are included.

+ Result in fewer, higher quality commitments, aiding advocacy

+ Open and transparent process for selecting commitments, with expressions of support counting equally

- Later additions would be at significant disadvantage, compared to earlier suggestions

- Bandwagon effect, whereby those ideas that achieve support early on receive greater attention and thereby support

- Benefits campaign groups who can mobilise large numbers of individuals to vote


A committee of open government experts is selected, who in turn select the commitments to be included within the manifesto.

+ Result in fewer, higher quality commitments, advocacy

+ Benefit from expertise of committee members in selecting most impactful and practical commitments

- Likely to benefit large organisations and those already heavily engaged

- Difficult to select committee members in a fair, transparent and representative way


4.2.2. Narrative drafting

There will be a collaborative process for the drafting of the narrative to sit around the commitments within the manifesto. This will be written via an online collaborative drafting platform that allows for participants to edit and comment. It is likely that Involve will produce a first draft of the narrative, based on discussions at outreach events, to which others can contribute.

4.3. Dissemination of the manifesto

4.3.1. Engagement with political parties

Links will be made with party officials in the main political parties and MPs. Regular updates will be sent of the progress of the manifesto and commitments included within it. Where appropriate, events and/or meetings will be set up to discuss the manifesto with political representatives. These will be tracked and details of the meetings published to ensure transparency.

CSO network members will be encouraged to use the manifesto as part of their communications with political parties.

Simple ways of illustrating whether political parties have made open government commitments will be explored. This could include a traffic light system.

4.3.2. Election

We will explore opportunities to showcase the outcome of the manifesto in the media ahead the election.

4.3.3. Engagement with new government

Early meetings would be sought with those responsible for the Open Government Partnership to begin discussion of the next National Action Plan.

5. Platforms

5.1 Crowdsourcing platforms

Criteria for selecting a platform will include:

Potential crowdsourcing platforms include:




Your Priorities, Citizen Foundation 

Dialogue App, Delib 



5.2. Narrative drafting platforms

Criteria for selecting a platform will include:

Potential collaborative drafting platforms include:




Google Docs


6. Timeline
















Identification & development of platform

Population of platform with proposals by network

Outreach to other civil society orgs & citizens

Engagement with political parties


Engagement with new government

6. Roles and responsibilities

6.1 Responsibilities

The development of the crowdsourced manifesto will be led by Involve, as coordinators of the UK OGP civil society network. Involve will allocate staff time and resources to each stage of the process to coordinate and deliver the process.

Members of the OGP civil society network will be called on to: