The Public Administration Select Committee – Public Engagement in Policy Making

The Public Administration Select Committee, which is set up to examine the Civil Service’s quality and administration standards and to scrutinise Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman reports, published a report into open policy making; how the general public can become involved in Government policymaking, on the 3rd June 2013.

The report also focused on how new technologies and digital platforms can be used to increase participation levels, with that in mind questions were submitted via the social networking site Twitter.

The report called for ‘wiki’ style policymaking, where the general public can contribute to the policy making process through all stages. The committee highlighted four main concerns regarding open policymaking.

The first issue they have raised is the possible continued dominance of vested interest groups, that the Government must strive to engage other groups and that there may be disappointing engagement levels. To combat this the committee says that open-policy making needs to use new platforms to engage with the general public including social medias platforms such as Twitter.

Although they recognise the importance of these new social media platforms, the second issue they raise is these platforms may not be as suitable as assumed and that the usefulness and suitability to the public needs to be genuinely demonstrable.

They also state the importance of gauging the general effectiveness of open policymaking, that it must be value for money and that there needs to be proof of improvement of outcomes.

Lastly, the committee emphasises that for open policymaking to work it needs to be fully integrated in to the day-to-day policy making of the civil service, not just an afterthought, if it is to be truly successful. Open policymaking shouldn’t simply occur after a policy has already be decided upon but should be there throughout the process, with civil servants and Ministers fully trained and informed.

 

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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.