Civil society groups have set out calls for the Welsh government to become more accountable, transparent, and participatory, in a new Manifesto for Open Government.
The Open Government Network Wales – led by ERS Cymru, the WCVA and Cynnal Cymru – has called for new commitments around access to information provided by the Welsh Government, participatory budgeting (which sees people vote on how government money should be spent) and more transparent processes for procurement.
Under Open Government Network rules, the Welsh Government will have to respond to the proposals and are due to publish an action plan, setting out their priorities in this area for the next two years.
This is only the second time the process has happened in Wales – and the first which has truly engaged civil society.
The suggested commitments have been generated from an online consultation, where users submitted their ideas for changes that would bring people and politics closer together.
The Manifesto for Open Government includes:
- The introduction of Participatory Budgeting at a national and local government level, where people are able to vote on how budgets are spent
- More transparent procurement processes by publishing a detailed list of funds awarded
- The use of more videos, images and infographics on Welsh Government websites
- Better use of social media channels to reach a wider section of the public
- More frequent and more accessible publication of the data Welsh Government holds
Jess Blair, Director of ERS Cymru and a coordinator of the Open Government Network in Wales, said:
“Later this year the Welsh Government will publish a new set of commitments around transparency and accountability. This manifesto sets out how Welsh government can open up – to let the light in and give voters a stronger voice.
“Other countries around the world have used these action plans to rebuild trust in politics – something that is more crucial than ever. From participatory budgeting to more transparent procurement rules, we can use these proposals to shape a better democracy, and give people a say in how decisions are made beyond the ballot box.
“Wales has its chance here to lead the world in open democracy, and to close the gap between people and the politicians.
“We hope that Ministers and civil servants alike take our recommendations seriously. It is vital that civil society has a say in how Welsh politics can work better for the people of Wales”
Ruth Marks, Chief Executive of WCVA, who lead the Open Government Pioneers Project in Wales, said:
“Wales has led the way in more open government, but we now risk going backwards if we don’t renew our commitment to more transparent and accountable government
“The proposals put forward in the manifesto will help put Wales back at the forefront of international movements for more inclusive government, not just in principle but in practice. For this to happen, we need to cover the basics on accessible information and tools that allow people to genuinely shape services and decisions. This manifesto suggests practical ways we can progress these, making use of the new digital approaches available today.”
Notes to editors
- Information about the Open Government Network in Wales can be found here: https://www.opengovernment.org.uk/networks/wales/
- The Open Government Partnership is a worldwide initiative that works with governments to secure commitments around accountability, transparency and participation. More information on this can be found here: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/about/about-ogp
- The full Open Government Wales Civil Society Manifesto can be found here: https://www.opengovernment.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Civil-society-ideas-for-the-Welsh-Government%E2%80%99s-Open-Government-Action-Plan-2018-20-.pdf