What Is Community Led Policy Formation?
Community-led policy development has gained a lot of traction in recent years as an ideology for local governance. Devolving policy decisions to community groups is a very complicated business. It requires budgets to be shared as well as checks and balances needing to be in place to ensure policy making does not veer off in unforeseen directions. The more pragmatic approach is often to try to gain community input in the policy-making process but maintain the existing policy-making structures. In this way, local governance can have the surely that policy is in keeping with the overall mission statement but has the stamp of the community on it. The advantages of gaining buy-in from the community are that local government now has a stronger process all-round including better legal compliance, better quality policy and the great advantage of help from the community in design and implementation of policy. Managing this process of community input is the challenge for many local authorities.
How Is It Done?
Technology advances now allow local organizations to reach out to communities and collect data in the form of surveys, or more in-depth policy suggestions. This community database can then continue contact by email or face-to-face outreach. In this way the seeds for the new policy are gathered from the community and the community are consulted at every step of the process to gain their buy-in. This is easily done with citizen engagement software, something that would have been a huge project in manpower terms even a couple of years ago.
Types Of Community Input Required
In terms of community-led policy formation, there are two distinct strands of data collection required. Number one is the open format where the community is, essentially, involved in an ongoing brainstorming session. This is necessary to avoid group-think on the part of the policymakers and to take in all viewpoints. Number two is the survey method of data collection with formulated questions based on the policy makers perception of the project. This allows them to see what the community think in detail on the topic. These two strands, taken together, provide a robust platform for policy formation, obviously taking in all the other elements usually involved in policy formation such as expert overview, mission statement, existing policy, legal implications and so on.
Ongoing Community Engagement
The same technology used to gather the initial input from the community is used on an ongoing basis then to gain further feedback on the policy as it develops and in terms of mobilizing the community to get behind implementation.
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