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New Zealand

Public Participation in Policy Development (NZ0016)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: New Zealand Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Open Regulations, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: New Zealand Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Commitment 5: Public participation in policy development
Objective:
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) will assist
the New Zealand public sector to develop a deeper and more consistent
understanding of what good engagement with the public means (right
across the International Association of Public Participation’s spectrum of
public participation).5
Ambition:
New Zealanders increasingly experience a more timely and collaborative
approach to public participation when policies are developed, and consider
their concerns, diversity of views, life experience and time are valued in the
policy process.
Improvements in public participation can result in better design of policy
and services, and increase their legitimacy. Improving public participation
requires an informed approach to applying public participation methods
throughout the policy development process. Developing a deeper
understanding of what good engagement looks like and providing guidance
about best practice methods across government, will achieve a more
consistent and coherent approach to public participation.
Status quo:
To date the majority of consultation has been in the ’inform and consult’
part of the IAP2’s spectrum, involving relatively limited degrees of public
participation that often occurs in the later stage of the policy development
process. There are substantial opportunities to improve the degree of
participation by the public, community organisations, businesses and
employee groups in the development of policy and the design and delivery
of government services. Improvements in public participation in recent
years have been driven by agency-specific or sectoral policy agendas,
demand from stakeholders and proactive action by key individuals at all
levels. Across government, responsibilities related to public participation
have evolved separately and are somewhat ad hoc.
The drive for improved public participation is part of a wider change in
public management in which the traditional role of the citizen has already
moved from “voter” to “customer”, and is now moving from “customer” to
“co-creator”. Under this view, policy and services are designed with, rather
than for, people, respecting their knowledge and beliefs, and their active
role in their own lives and those of other New Zealanders. Lead agency: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Timeline: October 2018 – June 2020
Commitment 5: Develop a deeper and more consistent understanding within
the New Zealand public sector of what good engagement with the public
means (right across the IAP2’s Public Participation Spectrum)
OGP Values Public Participation
Verifiable and measurable milestones to fulfil
the commitment
Start date End date
Extend existing Policy Method’s Toolbox public
participation guidance (https://www.dpmc.govt.nz/
our-programmes/policy-project/policy-methodstoolbox-0) to include a decision tool that will assist
agencies and Ministers to:
• Choose the appropriate engagement approach
on the public participation spectrum when
they tackle a specific policy or service design
issue
• Understand the characteristics and enablers of
effective public participation at whichever point
on the spectrum they choose
• Ensure that the engagement approaches
selected appropriately include and reflect the
diversity of those interested and affected by
the policies.
October
2018
March 2020
Develop and share recent case studies documenting
New Zealand innovation success stories in public
participation in the policy development process
October
2018
March 2020
Identify a ‘live’ policy issue in which to trial public
engagement in policy development that is higher on
the public participation spectrum than inform or
consult, as a demonstration project
October
2018
March 2020
Widely disseminate the results of the above actions March 2020 June 2020

IRM Midterm Status Summary

5. Public participation in policy development [54]

Objective:

“The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) will assist the New Zealand public sector to develop a deeper and more consistent understanding of what good engagement with the public means (right across the International Association of Public Participation’s spectrum of public participation)”.

Milestones:

  1. “Extend existing Policy Method’s Toolbox public participation guidance [55] to include a decision tool that will assist agencies and Ministers to:
  • Choose the appropriate engagement approach on the public participation spectrum when they tackle a specific policy or service design issue;
  • Understand the characteristics and enablers of effective public participation at whichever point on the spectrum they choose;
  • Ensure that the engagement approaches selected appropriately include and reflect the diversity of those interested and affected by the policies.”;
  1. “Develop and share recent case studies documenting New Zealand innovation success stories in public participation in the policy development process”;
  2. “Identify a ‘live’ policy issue in which to trial public engagement in policy development that is higher on the public participation spectrum than inform or consult, as a demonstration project”;
  3. “Widely disseminate the results of the above actions”.

Start Date: October 2018

End Date: June 2020

Context and Objectives

The objective of this commitment is for all public sector departments and agencies to understand clearly what good public engagement means and to apply that knowledge when inviting the public to participate in policy creation. It considers a key issue raised during engagement on the action plan and earlier: that co-design of government policies and services with New Zealanders of different cultures, ages, genders and localities is rare. [56] These submissions reinforced concern expressed in the IRM progress report on the 2016-2018 action plan that the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) was developing Commitment 7’s Policy Methods Toolbox only with and for policy agency colleagues and not consulting with the public. [57] Subsequently, DPMC consulted the Expert Advisory Panel, which advised that the guidance was fit-for-purpose and endorsed a key recommendation by the IRM researcher to develop standards for public consultation on policy initiatives. [58]

This commitment picks up on that recommendation and embarks on foundation work by DPMC to fundamentally change how government agencies create policy and engage with the public. The then Head of the Policy Profession [59] said in December 2018:

There are many potential benefits of government actively drawing citizens more into its policy decision-making processes, including: gaining more insight into the impacts and causes of policy issues, and the nature of policy opportunities, a fuller appreciation of possible policy options [and] a better understanding of the likely benefits, costs and risks of all policy options.

Collectively, these insights can markedly improve the quality of our advice … Done really well, our engagement with the public and key stakeholder groups can have another important benefit: mobilising support for implementation – with implementation then happening more smoothly as a result”. [60]

This work meets OGP’s access to information and public participation values by releasing new government guidance on public engagement and addressing the broader operating environment to enable participation in civic space. DPMC will add an engagement approach decision tool to the Policy Methods Toolkit for government policymakers to develop and share success stories of public participation in policy development, trial public engagement in policy development at the International Association for Public Participation’s (IAP2) Spectrum of Public Participation level above ‘inform’ or ‘consent’, [61] and disseminate results. This guidance could be read with the Guide for Central Government Engagement with Local Government, released and published online in June 2019, following DPMC work with a working group of central and local government representatives. [62] The Cabinet Guide has been updated to link to that guidance from within the consultation section. [63]

The milestones are specific enough to verify objectively. If fully implemented as designed, this commitment would have only a minor impact on policy creation unless usage of the Toolkit is made mandatory in the Cabinet Manual. Then engaging the public in policy creation would become the norm. They would acquire expertise through these activities and by using the guidance developed by DPMC. Transformational change could follow a trial at IAP2’s top level of ‘empower’, which would test the wisdom of the crowd and any agency concerns that have been precluding engagement at this level. Full evaluation would also be needed, in addition to the planned case studies.

Next steps

While this guidance might encourage more co-creation of policy, the IRM researcher was advised that without a lot more work guidance by itself does not have a history of making change without leadership, a direction to change, training and action. [64] This view supports another stakeholder’s recommendation that DPMC’s ‘live’ policy trial tests policy co-creation at the IAP2 ‘empower’ level. [65] Government advises that as part of the discovery phase of the work on the public participation guidance and decision tool, it is considering the wider issues that act as barriers for effective engagement with the public and identifying initiatives outside of guidance that could support greater participation in policy making. [66] This analysis needs to consider whether standards for public consultation on policy initiatives are still needed.

If this commitment is carried forward to the next action plan or if there are improvements to the implementation of this commitment, the IRM researcher recommends that:

  • The DPMC considers supplementing this commitment and increase impact by building capacity to understand and apply the Toolkit. This new work would give further strength to the work of the Policy Project.

The IRM researcher recommends that in future action plans, if this commitment is carried over, consider including elements such as:

  • continue to apply IAP2 co-creation policy, create Cabinet Guidance, and train policy staff;
  • Develop minimum standards for government consultation exercises, such as providing adequate timeframes for the public to effectively engage with consultations;
  • measure policy agencies’ uptake of the Policy Methods Toolkit; and,
  • with civil society, evaluate whether this form of public engagement has made implementation of policies smoother, as anticipated by the Head of Policy Profession in December 2018.
[62] DPMC, Guide for central government engagement with local government. https://dpmc.govt.nz/sites/default/files/2019-06/Engagement%20guidance%20final%2020.6_1.pdf
[64] Simon Wright, Public Engagement Projects, 30 January 2019.
[65] Advice from a senior researcher, School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington, 18 February 2019.
[66] State Services Commission advice to the IRM, 12 August 2019

Commitments

  1. Engagement with Parliament

    NZ0012, 2018, Capacity Building

  2. Youth Parliament

    NZ0013, 2018, Capacity Building

  3. School Leavers' Toolkit

    NZ0014, 2018, Capacity Building

  4. Making New Zealand’S Secondary Legislation Readily Accessible

    NZ0015, 2018, E-Government

  5. Public Participation in Policy Development

    NZ0016, 2018, Capacity Building

  6. Service Design

    NZ0017, 2018, Capacity Building

  7. Official Information

    NZ0018, 2018, Access to Information

  8. Review of Government Use of Algorithms

    NZ0019, 2018, Automated Decision-Making

  9. Data Practice Transparency

    NZ0020, 2018, Capacity Building

  10. Monitoring Information Management Practice

    NZ0021, 2018, Legislation & Regulation

  11. Open Data Government Organizations

    NZ0022, 2018, Access to Information

  12. Open Procurement

    NZ0023, 2018, Access to Information

  13. Open Budget

    NZ0005, 2016, Access to Information

  14. Improving Official Information Practices

    NZ0006, 2016, Access to Information

  15. Improving Open Data Access and Principles

    NZ0007, 2016, Access to Information

  16. Tracking Progress and Outcomes of Open Government Data Release

    NZ0008, 2016, Access to Information

  17. Ongoing Engagement for OGP

    NZ0009, 2016, Capacity Building

  18. Starred commitment Improving Access to Legislation

    NZ0010, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Improving Policy Practices

    NZ0011, 2016, Capacity Building

  20. BPS Result 10 – New Zealanders Can Complete Their Transactions with the Government Easily in a Digital Environment

    NZ0001, 2014, E-Government

  21. ICT Strategy Action 13 – Open by Default: Active Re-use of Information Assets

    NZ0002, 2014, Access to Information

  22. National Integrity System Assessment

    NZ0003, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  23. The Kia TūTahi Relationship Accord

    NZ0004, 2014, Capacity Building

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