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OGP UK National Action Plan Self-Assessment Report

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Today, almost two years since the UK’s initial involvement and the official launch of the OGP in New York, we are publishing the self-assessment report on the UK National Action Plan, originally published in September 2011.

Back in the spring of 2011, the UK Government was one of the founding members of the OGP, sharing the excitement of being in at the start of a new global movement and discussing how best to shape it. Around the world, there were clear signs of a growing appetite for openness in government that had to be satisfied: we had to take action and be part of the movement or be left behind. We wanted the OGP to be a voluntary initiative, but participating countries had to demonstrate real commitment to change and make a difference. The national action plans are the living proof of governments’ desire to become more accountable to their citizens and in this way, earn their place in the partnership.  


The first UK Action Plan was drafted in the very early days of the OGP, when we and our partners were still clarifying the scope of civil society engagement, implementation periods, reviewing mechanisms and so on. So much has happened since, and this report is an honest account of the UK’s performance to date and how much our agenda has evolved.


The consultation will remain open for two working weeks until 15 April. A final report will be published on 19 April. The Independent Reporting Mechanism will use this material to conduct their own review. Please read the report and post your comments or email us at Although we anticipate that people may have different views, our commitment to listen and engage is genuine and it is this approach that has been guiding the ongoing work to develop the new national action plan, which we expect to publish at the end of October.

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  1. Comment by exstat posted on

    I must object vigorously to the practice of just publishing documents in odt format.

    Open data are supposed to be universally readable but documents about open data are seemingly not for people with old software.

    Has this policy been set out and justified anywhere?

    Yes, I have got Office 2010.  But I don't use it because I am reluctant to impose (by forgetting to save in a compatible format) docx formats on other people with older software.  If other people do that to me, Word 2010 starts installing itself, changing default programs ... no thank you. 

    Bit ironic that I seem to me more considerate of such users than the Open Data site!

    • Replies to exstat>

      Comment by AAcuna posted on


      Exstat, ODT is an open format which can be opened both by free software (Libre and Open Office, Google drive, Calligra, MS Sky Drive) as well as paid software such as MS Office (2007 onwards), Zoho office and others)

      It is our approach that where possible we will use open formats, PDF is used when the overarching formatting of the document must be preserved at all costs, 

      Given the plethora of free alternatives to open such formats, we see no real issue with publishing in ODT and you will find more and more documents in this site being provided as ODT going forward.

      PS- .odt (open Document Format for Office Applications) is not the same as .docx (or OpenXML)

      • Replies to AAcuna>

        Comment by Owen Boswarva posted on

        I think you might be missing the point exstat is making. Based on previous discussions he does seem to be aware that ODT is an open format and not the same as docx.

        I don't have any strong objection to ODT documents myself. Like you and most pro IT users I am in favour of open formats and am fairly well tooled up with free readers and software. But is that necessarily true of users in general?

        From a usability perspective the question you should be asking is not "Is the format open?", it's "Is the document likely to be immediately readable by the user?"

        It's unreasonable to expect users to install software to read an individual document, even if the software is freely available. The likelihood is if the user cannot open an attachment he or she will just become frustrated and move on.

        Is ODT in wide use? The fact that you felt compelled to explain it suggests not. I don't know what proportion of users have the necessary software to read ODT documents, but I'm willing to bet it's substantially less than the proportion who have PDF readers installed.

        -- Owen Boswarva, 04/04/2013

        • Replies to Owen Boswarva>

          Comment by exstat posted on

          I should be used to Owen making my points better than I have!

          I didn't understand the rationale for what now appears to be a deliberate policy and I am afraid that I still don't now that a justification has appeared for the first time.  In the real world, everyone is used to PDF, even though it doesn't have "open" in the format description.  And creation of PDF is easy.  Unlike most of the data, these documents are presumably not there to be edited, so why not keep it simple and just use the de facto standard?

          It reminds me of the pressure in the days after Open Data was launched to do everything in RDF, even if it added nothing for users in some cases.  A bit theological, methinks.

          While it is good to see a justification, I'm disappointed that a process which is all about openness did not (as far as I know) put the justification in the public domain before making the change.  Or even better, find out in advance whether users support/oppose are agnostic on the matter.

          I have got the wherewithal to open the documents but as my previous post says, I don't particular want to employ them.  That's enough to make me move on and ignore the document.  OK, if I was still working I might have to open it for the sake of my job (and my job provided new enough software) but I can't see any virtue in putting off people who might still have a contribution to make.

          • Replies to exstat>

            Comment by AAcuna posted on

            Gents,  I appreciate your points and the argument both of you put forth (exstat, I must agree with you that Owen has a natural knack for succintness!)

            I must admit it does feel like being between a rock and a hard place here; critised if we publish on PDF and not open formats and critisised if we stand by open formats and move away (leading by example) from government overuse of PDF for everything.

            In order to facilitate discussion on the actual OGP report I suggest we move this particular conversation to which I created a while ago to tackle this very issue, would love to see some activity on it, helping inform our decisions on this for the future.


          • Replies to AAcuna>

            Comment by exstat posted on

            I note that you don't say what I have a knack for!

            Your suggestion to move threads kind of makes my point for me.  That thread is about data, for which openness is doubly important as the data will often be reused.  The documents on this thread are not (I assume) data, and are to be admired in their pristine glory rather than edited.  You inconvenience nobody by using PDF for these, whereas it would inconvenience nearly everyone to put data out in that form, something I criticised ONS for when they pioneered free data. Horses for courses, as they might say at Aintree tbis weekend.

            So, I'm happy to move threads (after this post), but I think you can see why I would not have thought to put this discussion on there.


          • Replies to exstat>

            Comment by AAcuna posted on


            Just a quick aside and to give space for other comments, good point about data v text, looking at it from the inconvenience to the user rather than the righteousness of the principle and giving that user needs is our driving force, I shall make sure we put PDF copies as well for text.  I would really appreciate you guys adding to the debate on formats, at the end of the day, the agenda is as much driven by the need to open up data as it is to do it in a way that facilitates its use (reading in this case) and a consensus view across the community (specially on how useful are ODT, ODS, etc) would be a great way to move forward.

            I'd say you have a knack to push on with the argument until you get results 😉


            Have a good weekend and see you in the forums

  2. Comment by BillTaylor13 posted on

    Please provide PDF versions of your documents. While I get open documents they should only be needed when the documents are to be edited/ comments added.

    As a rule of thumb please ensure they are easily accessible from iPad as MPs are provided them for their use!