A vision for online consultation and policy engagement
Alphagov A vision for online policy engagement & consultation Version 1.1 Simon Dickson, Neil Williams & Steph Gray March 2011
The vision for better online consultation & policy development A meaningful feedback loop Using the right digital tools at the right points in the policymaking process, so people’s contributions are useful and used by policymakers – and people know what happens to their contributions Engaging different people in different ways Integrating policy engagement with service delivery, online information and the Parliamentary process Equipping the civil service with ideas and support to use digital better for policy engagement Replacing ‘one size fits all’ consultation with a flexible matrix of platforms, content and engagement depending on the policy and the audiences, so people can choose how and how far they want to get involved Getting feedback from users of online public services about policy as well as service, promoting consultation and opening up new ways for citizens to shape Bills all the way through the policy and legislative process Ensuring policy teams in departments have access to good advice on digital engagement, as well as pooled technical specialists to help create multimedia, Plain English consultation materials and engaging online tools to give feedback, so government builds up a shared ‘catalogue’ of standard approaches and advice on what works
TELL INSPIRE REVIEW FEEDBACK A more radical and systematic approach to closing the feedback loop People don’t want their time to be wasted, outside or inside government. We need to ask people for the right input at the right time. We will create an ongoing feedback loop where individuals can raise issues, generate solutions together, comment in different ways on new proposals, and give feedback about the policy behind the public services they use, when they use them. Help ministers and government to understand your concerns and priorities Generate ideas for current policy challenges, both as individuals and groups that can come together to develop creative solutions Comment on proposals and regulations, submit formal responses to consultations, tell us whether new proposals are workable Give us your feedback on policy and public services as you use them, sharing your experiences and ideas for improvement Vote to prioritise Private Members’ Bills to be debated in Parliament Comment on draft legislation at the Public Reading Stage Petition Parliament and government departments to address concerns Hear regularly from government by email about changes and ideas for new policies
Closing the feedback loop: what could this look like? No 10's Twitter account attracted 1.7m followers, demonstrating an interest in engaging with government via this new channel. Twitter has only grown since. @tellgov will ask people to share their experiences of public services and the policy behind them, and their top concerns – initially via Twitter, potentially via SMS. It will provide a live, always-on feedback channel for people to raise what matters to them, right now. Responses will be concise, granular and easy to aggregate and analyse using automated tools. A daily chart of hot topics will be featured prominently as a widget on the government website, and longer term trends and topic-based themes will be available for citizens and policymakers to analyse for themselves. 'Sparkline' graphics give at-a-glance view of topics changing priority over time, in a widget to be embedded on government websites Unleaded hit 140p per L at our local Tescos. Cost me £80 to fill the car! @tellgov @tellgov Can't believe how expensive diesel is getting. Our business is going to have to raise prices to cover.
Closing the feedback loop: what could this look like? Government has been inclined to consult when policy is already far advanced. We need to genuinely ‘open source’ the policymaking process , setting out the challenges and data available, and signposting people to platforms where they can work on solutions together, in the spirit of the Big Society. This might take the form of crowdsourcing platforms such as Spigit, used by DWP and Dotgovlabs, where policymakers can lay out a challenge and seek solutions. But the channel is less important than the process: government’s role should be to incentivise and facilitate people to collaborate on solving policy problems however they want to, whether that’s a meeting in the village hall, or a project page on Facebook.
Closing the feedback loop: what could this look like? The process of taking part in formal consultation needs to be easier – there’s no point promoting opportunities for people to have their say if the site they land on requires them to read a hundred page document and submit a twenty page response or answer an eighty question survey. Policymakers should use simple low cost tools to make draft strategies and policies available for online comment and discussion , allowing them to be embedded into other sites and shared easily. Not every response needs to be a formal written one – what matters is that people can explore the policy options proposed and indicate their support. This might involve polling or short interactive simulators, alongside traditional methods of submitting responses.
Closing the feedback loop: what could this look like? There’s a golden opportunity to get feedback on policy at the point when people are performing the tasks and transactions that relate to them: taxing their car, applying for university, or registering a new business. People should be invited to give feedback when they’ve completed an interaction with an online public service, not just on the service but also on the policy behind it , with the option to opt-in to hear about this policy when it’s next being reviewed.
PLATFORMS CONTENT ENGAGEMENT NICHE, SPECIALIST GENERAL INTEREST Citizen Service user Resident Professional Policy expert Involving everyone with a stake in policy, in more effective ways Submit a formal collective response Comment on a document Suggest an idea, describe an experience Raw data, evidence base Detailed proposals, options & rationale Summary options & background Introductory film, Plain English guide to proposals Service feedback questionnaires Outreach via social networks Online roundtables, ministerial Q&As Outreach to niche communities, online + offline events The audience for policy development is hugely diverse: from professionals and civil society groups, to individual service users, each with different perspectives and capacity to engage. Digital engagement will acknowledge these different audiences and goals, offering different ways to have your say depending on the kind of project and the kind of input needed, instead of the current one-size-fits-all approach. Draft documents and standards together
Closing the feedback loop: what could this look like? When people take the time to contribute their views to government about policy, whether it’s a tweet to @tellgov or a sixty page formal submission from a trade representative body, they deserve to feel that government has listened, analysed and taken account of their feedback. Where your feedback goes Feedback channels will describe the process for moderating and analysing responses, and the timelines that apply. Longer submissions will receive guaranteed acknowledgements. What happens as a result Every online engagement will publish a summary of responses received, and a concise explanation of how policy was shaped by feedback. Detailed submissions collating responses from a community will receive individual summary feedback from the policy teams who analyse them, recognising the effort invested. What else you can do Everyone who contributes and opts-in to hear more for government will be invited to stay informed as the policy develops, potentially receiving alerts to new reports and projects.
Delivering digital engagement - a possible operating model Government Digital Service Government Communications Digital Engagement Delivery Hub Departmental policy teams Digital Engagement Advisers Social media developers, multimedia producers, community managers, moderators, trainers Engagement app store & case studies <ul><li>Delivering high quality digital engagement will need: </li></ul><ul><li>Strategic Digital Engagement Advisers, advising policy and communications teams on using digital effectively </li></ul><ul><li>A ‘hub’ of technical specialists in digital and social media delivery, offering a shared service of skills, tools and open source platforms to departments </li></ul><ul><li>A shared and collaboratively-maintained resource – the Engagement App Store – detailing platforms and third party tools for digital engagement, alongside case studies of how and where they have been used effectively </li></ul>