I say consultation, you say…?
The delivery of digital consultations within government is something which has been under much discussion recently. Ade Adewunmi, Digital Strategy Advisor invites you to take part in an online discussion around what consultation means and how we could make it better, for both those inside and outside government.
The relationship between digital engagement and policy-making has been debated for some time now. Government’s online consultations have also come under review. Institute for Government have run a few events (details can be found here and here) exploring this link as part of their Making Policy Better series.
The recently published Civil Service Reform (CSR) plan, which states that open-policy making will become the default, followed by the Cabinet Office’s Consultation principles have sharpened the focus on government consultations.
At GDS, our interest is primarily on the delivery of effective online consultations. We first considered the issue back in May of last year. Since then, we’ve been involved in the delivery of a few online consultations including a Public Reading Stage consultation. We’ve also reviewed a sample of government consultations, trying to spot commonalities and trends to get a better sense of how they are conducted in practice. Our aim is to:
- agree sustainable practices that result in better online consultations and;
- highlight some of the digital tools and platforms for delivery
So what are we proposing? Firstly, we need to be clear about what we mean by the term “online consultation”, and what it looks like in practice. That’s because what government means and what potential respondents understand by “consultation” are not always the same thing. Also because the term isn’t always used in a consistent way there’s potential for mismatched expectations and frustration. This was the subject of a thoughtful blog post by Demsoc. So, phase 1 will comprise an online discussion focused on building a clear picture of what online consultations look like today; the good, the bad and the ugly.
In phase 2, we’ll move onto the more exciting discussion of delivering better consultations. Both phases will be conducted online so that as many people as possible can get involved. We will be working closely with Demsoc on this as part of their recently launched project on consultations in an Open Policy future. The project will be kicking off in early September and we’ll be releasing details closer to the time.
If we’re going to get this right, we need your help. We want to hear from those in government who are involved in policy-making, digital communication, frontline service delivery, coordinating consultations and anyone whose service area has been impacted by a recent consultation. If you don’t work in government but have relevant experience in this area and would like to be part of the conversations then we’d like to hear from you too. Either way, please get in touch.
Image credit: @resultsjunkie on Flickr.com