Here today, gone tomorrow?

Regular readers of this blog probably need little convincing about the importance of open policymaking and better consultation. This blog is itself a great example of learning-by-doing. And the resources being developed – in particular the frameworks for ideal policy team behaviours and the fledgling matrix should provide a practical toolkit for teams wanting to do open policymaking well. This post is a reflection on one of the big challenges that strikes me when I think about how open policymaking works in practice. It's one that I have experienced first-hand, both as someone…Read more

Participation: Young lazy optimists, old active cynics

Skimming through the data tables from the Community Life survey released by the Department for Communities and Local Government today, and there is an intriguing set of numbers around civic participation and feeling that you are able to influence issues in your area. About four in ten people think that they can influence decisions in their local area, and about two in ten think that they can influence decisions at national level - neither number has changed in the past decade. However, if you break that number down by age (data table 9…Read more

Will the Government rethink its approach to consultation?

This project led by the Democratic Society on open policy making has been focusing on how to improve the mechanisms we use for consultation. While it might not have made (m)any headlines, a recent House of Lords report strongly challenged the Government's new guidance on consultations and has confirmed the concerns of many organisations which have been following these developments closely. Consultation might not be sexy at the best of times, and has certainly been much maligned, but this debate matters for a (hopefully) functioning democracy. On 1oth January 2013 the House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee issued a report which…Read more

Plain speaking

This project led by the Democratic Society has been focusing on how to improve the mechanisms we use for consultation. But if we are going to involve and engage more people, we also need to change the words we use to talk about policy. Plain English is mandatory on the new GOV.UK website. The Government Digital Service has created a useful list of 'words to avoid' as part of its Content principles. These include: agenda collaborate deliver dialogue empower facilitate focusing key transforming utilise. I've regularly used all of these words in my own work as a (sort-of) policy wonk, and…Read more

Making participation a participation sport | Helpful Technology

This post by Steph Gray is an oldie but a goodie. It perfectly articulates the multi-faceted challenge we face in trying to open up policymaking. It's a little sad that the scenario it describes is still so easily recognisable but by the end of it I'm left thinking, "OK, if it's this one thing I can change, I will". Cue Olympic victory montage music, Heather Small's "Proud".I’ve been musing recently on an interesting quandary: why aren’t advocates of public participation and engagement more successful in engaging the policymakers who design consultations? [...] Is…Read more

Benefits of Citizen Engagement: a (Brief) Review of the Evidence

This post is by Tiago Peixoto, and originally appeared on his blog DemocracySpot. Thanks to him for permission to repost here. He writes: I am working on a brief literature review on the benefits of participation, focusing on its different types of impact. Most of it (but not entirely) relates to participatory budgeting. Below are a few of the sections covered and a rough draft. Ideas and suggestions for topic coverage and literature (preferably peer-reviewed) are more than welcome. INCREASED TAX REVENUE / REDUCTION OF TAX DELINQUENCY As shown in a cross-national analysis by…Read more

We can’t improve consultation without talking about class

Discussions about consultation often focus on methods and means, but of course there's a broader social context to engagement. Declining trust in political institutions and weakening identification with the mainstream political parties threaten to undermine efforts to engage people in new ways. In short: we need to talk about class. This project is about citizen action and the positive involvement of the public in shaping laws and services. But 'citizen action' doesn't take place in a vacuum, rather it is shaped by all sorts of social factors. One of the factors that helped Barack Obama…Read more
Playing games to open up policymaking

Playing games to open up policymaking

It's all very well agreeing that policymaking should be open, but translating that commitment into real change involves at a least a few difficult, practical steps: there needs to be some leadership and HR support for individuals who want to try new approaches online, which is where Sir Bob Kerslake and the GDS guidance on social media can help there needs to be a model or framework and examples of others using the tools for their own policy engagement, which is where the case studies and matrix being built up on this site…Read more