With the current UK central government budget constraints it may be very difficult to encourage those responsible to focus upon engagement with citizens or even direct government ministers to better engage with local government, but a post from America on GovLoop that points to the Californian Institute for Local Government may offer some salutary lessons?
These ten ‘Principles of Local Government Public Engagement’ might be recycled throughout government, not just local, towards improving governance at little or minimal cost. Here they are unabridged:
1. Inclusive Planning: The planning and design of a public engagement process includes input from appropriate local officials as well as from members of intended participant communities.
2. Transparency: There is clarity and transparency about public engagement process sponsorship, purpose, design, and how decision makers will use the process results.
3. Authentic Intent: A primary purpose of the public engagement process is to generate public views and ideas to help shape local government action or policy, rather than persuade residents to accept a decision that has already been made.
4. Breadth of Participation: The public engagement process includes people and viewpoints that are broadly reflective of the local agency’s population of affected residents.
5. Informed Participation: Participants in the public engagement process have information and/or access to expertise consistent with the work that sponsors and conveners ask them to do.
6. Accessible Participation: Public engagement processes are broadly accessible in terms of location, time, and language, and support the engagement of residents with disabilities.
7. Appropriate Process: The public engagement process utilizes one or more discussion formats that are responsive to the needs of identified participant groups; and encourage full, authentic, effective and equitable participation consistent with process purposes. This may include relationships with existing community forums.
8. Authentic Use of Information Received: The ideas, preferences, and/or recommendations contributed by the public are documented and seriously considered by decision makers.
9. Feedback to Participants: Local officials communicate ultimate decisions back to process participants and the broader public, with a description of how the public input was considered and used.
10. Evaluation: Sponsors and participants evaluate each public engagement process with the collected feedback and learning shared broadly and applied to future engagement efforts.
The very specification for a Citizen Engagement Exchange!