Create a Career Path for Government Engagement Staff

Proposal: Create a Career Path for Government Engagement Staff that trains, develops and rewards staff across government departments involved in engagement and public input.


Principles to implement:

1.      Create differentiated roles within government engagement

·        To make public input work, it needs a range of activities and staff with varying skills and aptitudes to carry them out. It’s not just about organising a one off consultation. For example it could include:

o   Government Liaison Staff – who manage the relationship with government; so they gather politician’s input into the design and focus on public input, ensure they receive the outputs from public input; solicit and communicate the government’s response

o   Public Input Collection Staff - ensure public input is collected according to best practice such as using a range of sources; using a range of methods that produce constructive conversations; with transparency about is on/off the table; and accurate recording of the input. In particular, Participation selection officers collect public input from a diverse range of sources with a mix of all potential groups, but making sure that elites do not dominate and participants treat each other as equal peers. Issue selection strategists collect public input on any issue including those that are most important to the public, those politicians haven’t yet decided on, crisis issues, complex issues and those more manageable. Public input designers: design public input in its various forms would mostly use methods that create open, constructive conversation that is deliberative in nature (even if other methods are used to measure current views or behaviour), including people with different perspectives and positions in the same room and ensuring proceedings are kept respectful. Objective public input collection staff: could help ministers to identify a range stakeholders, those who they haven’t yet heard from, and help ministers forge connections with everyone.

o   Public Input Processing: staff here analyse and disseminate the results of public input to the government, public, and media transparently and accessibly; and also disseminate a leadership response to public input to help political leaders explain how public input relates to their decisions


2.      Offer training in required/gold standard principles of engagement


3.      Give Awards to recognise best practice


4.      Hold monthly meetings between engagement staff

·        from all different areas of practice/government

·        to create a positive supportive network and peer learning


5.      Organise a yearly workshop/retreat

·        for long-term strategic development in engagement practice

Why the contribution is important

Like any professional area, effective engagement requires experience, training, and sharing of best practice. The OECD (2001, 44) notes the importance of staff training to effective engagement - without it ‘activities to strengthening government-citizen relations cannot go ahead.’


However staff working in engagement in government are often dispersed through different departments, therefore operate in small numbers, are combined with communication or other roles, and change positions frequently, so rarely get the time or resources to develop high quality practice.


Whilst best practice would be to collate such staff in a public input unit which then services all government ministers, another way is to bring them together in another way be creating a cross-government career path.



Research source: The Ministry of Public Input

by JenniferLM on August 22, 2016 at 12:32PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 5.0
Based on: 5 votes


  • Posted by JohnJacobson August 23, 2016 at 22:13

    This is crucial - New Zealand's experience of the OGP demonstrates in spades that not enough public servants understand the principles, let alone the practices, of public participation. This needs to change, and the government should prioritise this if it is serious about co-creation and participative policy development.

    SSC should get the Government Chief Talent Office to work on this in conjunction with DIA's Government Information Services team.
  • Posted by engage2_Facilitator August 24, 2016 at 23:20

    Thanks for this suggestion, which has clear actionable steps.
  • Posted by Rhamish August 25, 2016 at 00:27

    Brilliant idea. Government needs to get better at engaging and consulting with the public.
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