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Understanding Public Consultation

All consultation needs to be effective. The passing of valuable information to help make informed decisions and draw up successful policy proposals is something which can’t be overlooked. The ultimate goal of good public consultation is positive policy outcomes which consider the opinions of the stakeholders.

A structured consultation process entails defining the purpose and subject of the consultation (such as a policy initiative, a regulatory change, a legislative proposal or a service delivery). It also entails identifying the key audience whose views are to be sought, framing the questions to be asked, providing information and receiving and analyzing the responses.

So how do we make our public consultation as effective as possible?

- Early intervention

It should come as no shock or surprise that early intervention in anything is crucial. Public consultation should be undertaken at the earliest possible convenience. Decision making can drag on and so you need to give yourself and your team the opportunity to deal with any obstacles which may manifest themselves.

- Clarity

How may times do we have to say it - messaging is important. The consultation should make clear its purpose, context and the process that will ensue after it closes.

- Targeted

Relationship management, and in particular stakeholder engagement are now vital to the success of a wide range of organizations, their activities, and projects. The question is are you engaging with the relevant stakeholders is now ‘what is your stakeholder engagement strategy?’, and ‘what is the best system to manage engagement?’.

- Open

Public consultation supports greater transparency, which is an important principle of good governance. It helps to ensure that the operations are conducted with greater clarity and openness. It recognizes that public policy-making can be enhanced through the active involvement and contribution of all stakeholders with an interest in particular policy developments. By ensuring that interested parties can express their views about a particular proposal, the decision-making process becomes better informed, more rigorous and more accountable.

- Expertise

In some situations, outside expertise may be justified for planning, running or evaluating a consultation. Consultations can involve market research, stakeholder identification, facilitation, or may involve seeking feedback on existing services provided by the consulting body. In such circumstances, it might be a good idea to use specialist third parties, who may be better equipped to conduct detailed research. If the consultation consists of a series of public meetings, a significant amount of organization will be necessary - especially if there is a need for a regional approach.

Interested in learning more about how we can help with public consultation? Talk to us below.

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