Whatever happened to open government and open policy? A scorecard

After being elected Prime Minister in 2010 David Cameron committed the UK to having “the most open and transparent government in the world.” Alongside this, the Government’s civil service reform plan published last year promised to “make open policymaking the default”, recognising that Whitehall itself does not have a monopoly on expertise. Here’s a brief – inevitably partial […]

Whatever happened to open policy?

The Government’s civil service reform plan published last year promised to “make open policymaking the default”, recognising that Whitehall itself does not have a monopoly on expertise. The commitments set out in the plan included: – commissioning policy development from outside organisations such as think tanks; – crowdsourcing questions to shape the definition of the problem (not just […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

Should there be a ‘duty to involve’ for national policy?

As Edward Andersson from Involve noted in his recent blog reviewing the new consultation principles issued by government: ”Today consultation has, for many citizens, become a byword for formalistic, tick box exercises, done to mask a decision which is already a ‘done deal’.” Edward rightly suggested that the new principles, while important, fall short of […]

Consultation can’t fix our broken politics – we need new ways to engage the public in policymaking

Is consultation broken – or is it our political system? Consultation seems to have become the lightening rod for general discontents about politics and policymaking. Let’s improve consultation – but let’s also rethink how we do policy and politics at the same time. In this Open Policy project with the Democratic Society in association with […]

Open policy is a challenge to government consultations – and an opportunity

More than 40 years ago the American sociologist Sherry Arnstein developed the ‘ladder of participation’ to represent the degree of involvement by citizens in decision-making. Arnstein’s levels range from ‘non-participation’ at the bottom of the ladder – at worse, the manipulation of citizens – to ‘citizen power’ and true citizen control at the top. One of the challenges […]