Develop a permanent government unit to collect, process and communicate public input

Develop a permanent and properly resourced government unit to collect, process and communicate ongoing public input such as a Commission of Public Input, to meet the OGP principle of public participation.


Big idea: This unit would collect, process and communicate public input so it is an ongoing activity, not just a one off event. It needs to be appropriately resourced with a dedicated, trained public input staff unit to collect and process the public input.


Scaled down proposal to fit 2-year time frame: work on creating one on a particular issue or focus, or linked issues, like housing and transport – but check with politicians for what issues they want input on and would be likely to listen to, and preferably, get involved in before choosing. They wanted something on tax and welfare, so what next? Collate all existing data, hold new summits/working groups to address the issues, and aim to produce options for policy development in mid-2018, which would be a good time in the new government’s cycle. Aim to showcase it as an example of innovation to match the best examples from the US or elsewhere.


However then archive it/make it a permanent organisation that can then be broadened beyond the two year time period if it works/if supported.


Additional idea to support this: appoint a figurehead, ideally a Minister of Public Input or if not a senior government staffer: public input needs a champion, so governments need a Minister for Public Input. Already Canada has a Minister for Democratic Reform; the UK a Minister for Civil Society and Minister for Political & Constitutional Reform.


What would it look like?

·        a Public Input Collection Unit would collects public input from a diverse range of sources, uses a range of methods to create constructive conversation, specify what is on/off the table, focus on producing workable solutions and records results accurately and objectively.

·        The Public Input Processing Section will analyse and produce reports on public input events, create a report for politicians, disseminate event reports and a wide range of other inputs and disseminate the government/leadership response to public input.

·        A third component, the Government Liaison Team, needs to gather politician’s input into the public input system and distribute reports on public input to Government.


 Key units in the Ministry of Public Input

Public Input Collection Unit (PICU)


Public Input Processing Section (PIPS)

q  Collects public input from a diverse range of sources

q  Uses a range of methods to create constructive conversation

q  Specifies what is on/off the table

q  Focuses on producing workable solutions and options

q  Records results accurately and objectively and sends them to PIPS

q  Run by a properly resourced team to process public input data

q  Analyses and produces reports on public input

q  Disseminates event reports and wide range of other inputs openly to the public and politicians via the Government Liaison Team

q  Disseminates the government/leadership response to public input

Government Liaison Team (GLT)

Public Development Office (PDO)

q  Gathers politician’s input into design of public input collection/PICU

q  Distributes public input/PIPS reports to Government

q  Communicates government response to public input

q  Develops citizens’ skills, capacity and attitudes so they can provide high quality solution-oriented input

q  Creates a range of roles for the public to play in the public input system




Why the contribution is important

In New Zealand, we have had one off successes with initiatives like the Welfare and Tax working groups; and the US has also developed some valuable initiatives like the TSA Ideas Factory which actually generate ideas government acts on. What makes the difference? Well they involve politicians, are well resourced, and are a more complete, permanent system that combines political/government elite expertise with input from wider societal groups and staff. We need to repeat such success, but do some on a more permanent basis.

Most public input exercises waste significant funds, time, resources, staff and energy in scattered and superficial activity producing data that politicians cannot use because they forget to include the politicians who make the decisions. Politicians have to take into account constraints and realities; they also have to show leadership which requires pursuing change and necessary - but not always popular - policies. The data collected has limited impact on decision making; disappointing those who participate in public input processes, and damaging government-citizen relations.


by JenniferLM on August 15, 2016 at 05:17PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.0
Based on: 1 vote


  • Posted by carolh August 24, 2016 at 09:13

    I think having an accountable body for this is really important. The Scottish Parliament has a Public Petitions Committee which monitors all petitions received and progress on considering / responding to them. One of the problems most people have is a lack of trust that they will be heard so having a body that is accountable - not just staff - is vital to show that the politicians are listening. In terms of the open government aspect, an issues register of some kind that tracks what has been done with people's comments and feedback would be good.
Log in or register to add comments and rate ideas

Idea topics