By: Eve
Posted: 07/06/2016

How can online consultations be improved?

We’re working together with Democratic Society on a project commissioned by the Government Digital Service exploring how the experience of online consultations, as run by Whitehall, can be improved.

What are we doing?

We’ve undertaken desk research to explore a range of questions related to consultation processes. Starting from trying to build a greater understanding of ‘what is a typical consultation process inside central government?’, we’re identifying specific groups of people involved in the consultation process – civil servants and Ministers as well as wide a range of individuals and organisations who may or not respond to consultations.

Alongside this, we’ll be carrying out user research to understand the motivations and behaviours attached to the process, while working to identify what would make a good consultation experience for these groups. While offline consultation practices are not specifically explored as part of this work, we are aware that any online and offline consultation practices will need to support each other.

Join our research!

We’re keen to speak to a very wide range of people and organisations who are (or potentially could be) involved in consultations. This includes:

  • Government officials in local or national governments who’ve been involved in setting up digital platforms to hear citizens’ views or engage with citizens;
  • Government officials who design consultations or use consultation responses in developing policy – either in the UK or elsewhere;
  • Organisations or individuals who respond to consultations – including trade unions, academics, lobby groups, campaign groups, or interested citizens;
  • Organisations or individuals who don’t respond to government consultations (as you may have a whole host of ideas about how things can improve!)

 
We’re looking for people to participate in 1 hour interview within the UK. Are you interested?

 

Fill out the form below and register interest to participate:

 

*If you can’t see the form, click here to open it in a new window.

What do we mean by ‘online consultations’?

The term ‘consultation’ doesn’t have a fixed definition in the UK. With a wide range of interactions between central government, citizens and organisations, it can be difficult to pin down exactly what this word means. However, for this project, we will be considering instances when central government is asking ‘the public’ questions to inform their decision-making process and/or as part of a statutory requirement.

This definition of consultation doesn’t include process for gathering feedback from users or complaints services. It also doesn’t include responses to challenges initiated by Government such as the Red Tape Challenge or spontaneous interactions when a citizen or organisation may directly contact a department or Minister. However, we won’t be limiting our work just to the traditional idea of consultations – such as when a department may release a short questionnaire and invite responses. We’ll also be looking at some of the more innovative methods that departments may use, including the use of deliberative online forums.

For more information, head over to Democratic Society’s blog page where posts will be published over the course of the project.