A process of engagement, which can reach beyond the “Westminster village” and the “usual suspects”, will itself be an act of leadership, but there can be no abdication of that leadership.
Digital technology and new media have a huge role to play. In time, the Government should be able to demonstrate that the citizen is able to contribute opinion, ideas and suggestions on an ongoing basis, if it is to be seen as moving away from old processes and embracing a new relationship with the citizen.
- All policy making carries risks: a lack of appetite for participation, disappointment arising from unrealistic expectations and the dominance of vested interests. Government must frankly assess and address these risks in relation to open policy making.
- Digital technology has a significant role to play in opening up policy-making. Government could and should go further and embrace radical and innovative approaches, but making use of existing platforms and technologies, such as Twitter. However, Government must demonstrate that the methods used in engagement exercises are suited to the needs of those they are trying to engage.
- The success and impact of public engagement in policy-making must be effectively measured. Government must able to demonstrate value for money and improved outcomes with this new approach, particularly in a time of austerity.