Scottish Government Blogs

October 24, 2014
by Karen Watt
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NIDOS Seminar

Throughout 2014, the Scottish Government has been having a lively debate with interested stakeholders about Scotland’s reputation as a good global citizen. I was delighted to speak yesterday (23 October) at the annual seminar of the Network of International Development Organisations in Scotland (NIDOS).

We make an important and distinctively Scottish contribution to helping some of the poorest people and communities in the world to create opportunities to build a better future – and the aid we deliver through our £9 million per annum international development and £6 million climate justice funds are just some of the ways we support our objectives. But the vital ingredient we talked about yesterday was the partnership working we have developed with Scottish organisations and which they, in turn, have developed with local organisations in our priority countries.

External Affairs Director Karen Watt at NIDOS Seminar

We also discussed the Scottish Government’s submission to the Smith Commission, which is looking at further powers for the Scottish Parliament.  If you turn to Chapter 7 you will see this proposes that Scotland should be able to work with certainty and stability for the people and countries it engages with through its current international development activity, and that this should be given legislative underpinning rather than relying on permission from the UK Government that can be removed at any time.

It also argues that a commensurate share of the UK’s current international development budget for relevant countries would provide the targeted, effective, efficient and innovative activity to help fight poverty worldwide.  It was good to hear that NIDOS has submitted an interim paper to the Smith Commission and that many members are considering submitting individual responses.  We’re keen to encourage all voices to be heard in considering the future governance of our country and how we continue to make a difference in the world.

October 23, 2014
by Jim Gordon
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Scotland’s Digital Future: Data Hosting and Data Centre Strategy for the Scottish Public Sector

Why do we need a strategy?

The Review of ICT Infrastructure in the Public Sector in Scotland report by John McClelland found that the public sector in Scotland maintained a large estate of data centres and that significant efficiency and energy savings could be achieved through their consolidation. In response to this and other recommendations in the report, the Scottish Government worked with the wider public sector to produce the strategy Scotland’s Digital Future: Delivery of Public Services. This committed to a national strategy for the public sector’s data storage focusing on consolidation and re-use.

How we approached the strategy’s development

The Strategy was developed using a process of consultation and research. We added to and updated information used in John McClelland’s review through a survey of all public sector organisations. This included asking about intentions and thoughts on cloud computing.

A cross-Government working group was also formed that included ICT industry experts as well as representatives from public sector groups. In addition, we learned from what was being done elsewhere through the approaches of other Governments and visits to existing data centres in both the public and private sector.

The full landscape report is available at Scotland’s Digital Future: Report on the current landscape for Data Hosting and Data Centres in the Scottish Public Sector.

Key findings

The main findings that were consistent across our analysis were:

  1. There is no consistent approach to decision making on future provision of data hosting.
  2. A small but significant number of organisations are still considering building their own data centre.
  3. There are well designed and provisioned data centres which will be used for the foreseeable future.
  4. However, many are not housed in appropriately secure and reliable facilities.
  5. Most organisations and sectors have varying levels of requirements for hosting and delivering services. A single solution may not be appropriate.
  6. Organisations wanted guidance to help them make informed decisions on the best approach for hosting their ICT infrastructure and services. In particular they wanted guidance on use of cloud computing.
  7. There is a need to identify how costs can be measured in a consistent way to support decision making.
  8. Data Centre providers generally deliver services and space to higher security standards and use less energy.

Drawing on these findings, we drew up a draft strategy and sought comments on this.  Our work was also promoted throughout the process including at a series of roadshows across the country seeking feedback and input.

The strategy

On 30th April 2014, the strategy for the public sector in Scotland was published setting out how organisation should approach their future requirements for hosting their data and ICT infrastructure.

Scotland’s Digital Future: Data Hosting and Data Centre Strategy for the Scottish Public Sector sets the vision that Scotland’s public sector data hosting is cost effective, carbon neutral and makes appropriate use of cloud technology, for the delivery of efficient and highly available ICT services.

To support us in achieving the vision, the strategy sets the direction and principles which organisations will deploy to enable a shift to service consumption and cloud provision and away from an individual silo approach to data hosting and data storage. Aggregated demand and economies of scale will be a key element in this.

The strategy sets out how the public sector will adopt cloud computing, virtualisation and colocation for achieving significant efficiency and energy savings. Guidance documents are now published for use by public sector organisations including information on best practice and lessons learned that will help organisations deliver efficiencies in these areas.

These will be supplemented with a catalogue of public sector data centres capable of providing capacity for other organisations, and a procurement framework of suppliers capable of providing the range of services to deliver on the vision, tendered through the OJEU process.

The principles

Organisations will transition to revised arrangements at different timescales and in different ways because organisations have different existing contractual arrangements. But it is important that the public sector delivers the change required and it will do so by adopting, with consistency, the following set of principles:

  1. Organisations review their current ICT data centre and hosting arrangements
  2. Cost of running data centres and hosting is known
  3. Utility and cloud computing is considered in assessing the appropriateness of current arrangements and future investment plans, and a shift to the cloud takes place when this is the most cost-effective option that delivers business requirements
  4. Co-location in existing world class data centres is considered where cloud options cannot meet business needs or are not cost-effective
  5. No new data centres should be built to meet the needs of an individual or small number of organisations with new centres only considered if, in line with principles 3 and 4, cloud or existing data centre options do not meet business needs.
  6. Organisations measure and continually improve on their data centres PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness).

Decision roadmap

Through promoting a consistent approach, the strategy’s roadmap will assist organisations to meet the vision. It provides a framework that enables organisations to consider what is important for them in identifying the most appropriate solution in implementing the strategy.

The guidance

The vision in the strategy sets out essentially a “cloud first” approach and our guidance documents will help organisations understand using a common vocabulary the decisions that need to be taken and the steps they need to take to move forward in that direction.

Download and read our published cloud computing guidance.

We have also published draft guidance that we are now seeking feedback on

  1. Virtualisation
  2. Public sector data centre colocation

To find out more and provide any feedback 

Contact or visit the Scottish Government website.

October 21, 2014
by SG Admin
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Welcome to the Scottish Government… Westie

Neil Harrison – Senior Marketing Manager

On my walk to work on my first day as part of the SG Marketing team, the suit jacket was off, shirt sleeves rolled up and I was enjoying the warm morning sun. Was this a good omen for the new job?

63 minutes after starting my role, summer thoughts were quickly replaced with snow, ice, strong winds and flooding as I was handed the file for Ready for Winter? 2014. This campaign aims to encourage individuals and businesses to make some simple preparations for winter as you never know what the Scottish weather is going to be like.

I quickly learned that there is a lot of love within the team for the cute canine campaign mascot, Westie, as my various suggestions for putting him in situations where he had not prepared for winter were shot down with comments like “you cannot do that to poor Westie!!”.

This year Westie is having to deal with more than the traditional winter focus of snow and ice as the campaign now covers strong winds and flooding. Working with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency we have challenged Westie to take on the role of someone preparing for flooding. Some say this is a performance that Lassie would be proud of. Continue Reading →

October 21, 2014
by David Barnes
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Communicating the CAP

Until the MacSharry reform in the 1990s, most of the policy tools in the CAP worked by supporting farmers indirectly, via the market.  CAP measures generally didn’t operate directly on farmers (with some exceptions, like milk quotas), and therefore the rules and conditions farmers themselves had to understand and abide by were, compared with today, relatively modest.

That all changed with the introduction of Direct Payments.  Today the CAP intervenes very little in the market, and the payments made directly to farmers – and the rules attached to them – are the centrepiece of the policy.  That means government has to consider not only the development and implementation of policy, but also how to communicate it successfully to every farmer and crofter affected by it.  For example, we recently announced a further set of details relating to Greening, and we had to work out how best to ensure the news got to all the farmers who need to know.

One of the biggest differences I notice now, compared with when I first worked on the CAP 25 years ago, is the amount of effort we put into communication.  Every year we seem to add new ways of communicating.  If I think about the last few years’ work on the new CAP, we’ve used official Scottish Government news releases, letters and booklets posted to individual farmers, articles in the national and local press, regional roadshows of evening meetings and formal written consultation exercises.  We’ve put masses of information on the Scottish Government website and made it available from RPID area offices.  We’ve run all sorts of stakeholder meetings, from standing groups that meet regularly, through short-life working groups to look at specific topics, to one-off workshops.  We’ve worked with stakeholder organisations to use their communications channels – newsletters, magazines, regional meetings and so on – to reach their members.  We’ve had stands at agricultural shows, and Ministers and officials have given talks at conferences, seminars and training events.  We’ve increasingly used social media, like Twitter and Facebook. And of course this blog has been part of the communications effort.

That sounds like a long and diverse list of channels.  But it needs to be that way, because the audience is hugely diverse too.  Some people have been with us on the journey to the new CAP from the start, and already know a great deal.  At the other extreme there are still some, we hear anecdotally, who are only just beginning to look for information on what’s going to happen.  The majority are somewhere in between, with some knowledge of what’s coming but an appetite to know more.  An individual farmer or crofter might be interested mainly in how the new policy will apply to their individual situation, whereas an agent or a consultant might want a broader understanding of the whole system.  Big farmers will wonder whether they are affected by capping; crofters, small farmers and new entrants will be interested in the capital grants which in future will be targeted specifically at them.

Also, research shows very clearly that different people take in information best in different ways.  Some will assiduously read the guidance we send out.  Others don’t like to read long documents but will happily travel to one of our meetings or to their local area office to hear the same information in spoken format.  By using social media and putting material on our website, we can share information faster than ever before; but, even though we’re working to improve broadband coverage, what about the areas where it’s not yet complete?  Or the folk for whom using Twitter is as unnatural as riding a unicycle or speaking Mandarin?

So the only way to reach everyone effectively is to use a wide range of channels.  We hope it’s working, and are always looking to improve.  For instance, I mentioned earlier that the needs of agents and consultants are different from those of individual farmers – for that reason this autumn’s CAP roadshows include, for the first time, separate events for those different audiences.  As always, your feedback on how we’re doing would be very welcome.

October 20, 2014
by Ruth Allen
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New topic sheet published: EMBRC



Through its members the EMBRC will provide access to European coastal seas and the extensive range of marine organisms that it contains. In addition, with having both the expertise and necessary specialist facilities, it will become the major European provider of marine biological research infrastructure and related services, championing the future sustainable exploitation of marine biological resources.

October 17, 2014
by Paul Stainer
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European Plans for the Ocean Energy Sector – October 2014

The European Commission has developed a two-step action plan to support the emerging ocean energy sector in Europe. In the first phase (2014 – 2016), an Ocean Energy Forum will be set up, which will bring together stakeholders to develop a shared understanding of the problems and to develop solutions. It will focus on building capacity and critical mass, and on fostering cooperation. The outcomes of the Forum will feed into a strategic roadmap, which will provide an agreed blueprint for action in order to help the ocean energy sector move towards industrialisation.

In the second phase (2017 – 2020) a European industrial initiative could be developed, based on the outcomes of the Ocean Energy Forum. European industrial initiatives are public-private partnerships that bring together industry, researchers, Member States and the Commission to set out and implement clear and shared objectives over a specific timeframe. They enhance the impact of innovative research and development and provide a platform for sharing investment risk.

The development of the Ocean Energy Forum is still at an early stage. However, it is proceeding against an ambitious agenda set by the Commission to develop 100GW of ocean energy by 2050. In support of this agenda, a comprehensive infrastructure fund will be put in place to tackle issues such as the provision of a strategic grid network.

More on the Ocean Energy Forum here

Article by Andronikos Kafas

October 16, 2014
by Investors in People Scotland
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Investors in Young People

Published earlier this year, the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce has focused minds on the subject of youth unemployment.  Currently, there are 53,000 Young People not in employment, education or training in Scotland.  With only 27% of employers offering work experience and 29% employing directly from education in Scotland, there is significant scope and capacity for employers to positively and directly influence the future of the Scottish economy.

Employers who are proactive in the employment of Young People have reported myriad business benefits, including:

  • A talent pool for the future being built and sustained
  • Professional development for managers
  • Young People bringing a different mind-set and fresh pair of eyes
  • Employment of Young People increases life skills for all, including the Young People
  • Young People have skills such as IT and social media that are not readily available elsewhere

Working within an organisation that understands long term employment needs and plans for succession management; or an organisation where there is a process for consulting with Young People about the way that they are managed and supported; or where leaders in the organisation have an understanding of Young People’s needs, can all make huge differences to the way that Young People develop within a working environment.

One of the key recommendations from Sir Ian Wood’s report was for the creation of an Investors in Young People (IIYP) accreditation framework. Launched in the summer by Investors in People Scotland following support from the Scottish Government, the first early adopters of the framework have become IIYP accredited.

To gauge where you or your business are against the IIYP framework, try this free, 20 question diagnostic. Following the multiple choice questions you can download and keep a personalised report with your answers.

October 16, 2014
by blog administrator
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Fiona Hyslop: Scotland’s role in Europe

This year has put Scotland firmly on the map, with the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and the referendum generating attention and interest from our international neighbours.

This international interest in Scotland continues – this was my experience this week, when I travelled to Brussels to meet MEPs, Ministers, and academics and to address a European Policy Centre (EPC) event on the subject of the EU, the referendum and EU reform.

Helpful meeting with Minister President of Flanders Geert Bourgeois on how Scotland and Flanders can learn from each other on more devolved powers.

Scotland’s constitutional journey and the importance we place on EU membership has become a talking point beyond our shores. That’s why I was grateful for the opportunity to reinforce Scotland’s commitment to the EU and the Scottish Government’s reform agenda at the EPC event in Brussels.

European Policy Centre event in Brussels.

The opportunities and benefits offered by membership are vitally important and we have a role in addressing some of the central challenges facing the EU at this crucial time.

In Scotland we are proud of our reputation as an outward looking nation. We work hard to secure a better future for all of our people, but also place importance on being a good global citizen. That’s why in the Scottish Government’s proposals to the Smith Commission, we said Scotland should have guaranteed rights to engage directly with EU institutions and decision-making processes in areas, which have considerable influence over the economic success and social welfare of Scotland.

This Government recognises the important role the EU can play in delivering peace, prosperity and social progress. That’s why our reform agenda prioritises economic and social policies that reflect the aspirations and concerns of people across Europe. We also seek to influence the UK government and EU institutions to advocate meaningful reform in areas such as economic growth and competitiveness, youth employment, workers’ rights, public health, climate change and energy security and free movement of persons.

Extra powers for Scotland in the EU would ensure we have the leverage we need to protect Scotland’s interests, making our distinctive, pro-European voice heard loud and clear in Brussels.

As our constitutional journey has shown, connecting people, politics and power has never been more important than it is now – not just for Scotland, but across Europe.

Download our booklet on Scotland’s Agenda for EU Reform.

Watch the EPC speech in full on Youtube or read the speech here.