The Guardian talks Open Policymaking

Chris, Simon and Ade of this parish were part of a Guardian panel that debated consultation earlier this week. The write-up is here, but a couple of key comments that stood out for me were:

Government consultation can learn from Wikipedia and how it manages excess data: I think there are two more elements that get forgotten by policy makers – that it must deal with a real problem faced by citizens in their everyday live and that there are agreed governance processes for dealing with conflict, and a culture of respect and tolerance for other views. It will be interesting to look over the long term to see if wikipedia has got the second of these right. (Simon)

It is difficult to keep people updated after they have participated:one of the challenges has been the lag between this type of engagement and delivery. Keeping people in the loop as a policy develops via digital channels is one of the ways we can improve the process. (Ade)

Who are the real experts? we would like to see policy making engage those who use and provide public services – who bring the real expertise on how to solve problems and improve services. Mark Johnson of User Voice works in the criminal justice sector and his argument is really simple – you won’t solve the problem of re-offending rates unless you engage ex-offenders – and they are the real experts in how to solve this problem. (Chris)

Consultations are not going to fix the problem. We need more ‘upstream’ engagement between citizens and state. The Cabinet Office consultation principles rightly recommends that we give more thought to achieving ‘real engagement’. But what does this look like in practice? There are over 30 approaches to engaging the public, ranging from traditional town meetings to citizen juries. Some are less well-known, like Samoan circles, Delphi surveys and mystery shopping. The real question is how do we get what IPPR calls a relational state, where government acts with the public to achieve common goals, sharing knowledge, resources and power. (Jonathan Breckon from the Alliance for Useful Evidence)



Published by Anthony Zacharzewski

Anthony Zacharzewski was one of the founders of Demsoc in 2006. Before starting work for Demsoc in 2010, he was a Whitehall civil servant and a local government officer.