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There is currently no single comprehensive online consultation and engagement service available to the New Zealand Government. As a result, agencies are duplicating investment in online engagement and tool selection and have disproportionate access to online engagement expertise.

Does your agency use or want to use online engagement tools for stakeholder engagement (e.g. consultation, feedback, gathering ideas and innovations)? You can tell us what your agency requires in an online engagement service by completing our survey by 1 October 2012. We particularly want to hear from communications, engagement, policy and web staff. The de-personalised, aggregated survey results will be made available to survey participants by 31 October 2012.

The Department of Internal Affairs is leading a cross-agency working group to develop a business case for a shared Government Online Engagement Service (GOES). We’re seeking early engagement with local and central government agencies to understand potential demand and requirements, and the supplier market (through the Government Electronic Tenders Service (GETS)) to understand potential solution approaches and delivery models. Note, we’re still investigating the options and making the case and haven’t yet committed to delivery.

The GOES working group is passionate about online engagement and the potential of GOES to help government gain greater participation in decision-making processes, better quality government decisions, and increased value for government and stakeholder investment in engagement.

The Case for a Government Online Engagement Service

Central and local government require frequent engagement with a wide range of stakeholders to inform policy and decision-making processes. Good quality engagement is resource and expertise intensive, and the increasing use of online social media raises public expectations for methods and timeliness of interactions with government.

The New Zealand public increasingly expects to engage with government online and through mobile devices, as well as by more traditional methods. The latest Kiwis Count survey (August 2012) shows an increase in the proportion of people who use public services online. Fifty-one percent of survey respondents have transacted with public services through the internet in the past 12 months, compared with 40 percent of respondents in 2009

Government agencies are increasing their use of online engagement tools (e.g. Inland Revenue’s Making Tax Easier online forum, the Electoral Commission’s online submissions for the MMP review, and the Wellington Region Local Government Review Panel’s online discussion forum). However, there is a lack of knowledge and experience across government in running effective online engagement. There is duplication of investment across government, negating some of the value-for-money benefits of the online channel, and the public are faced with different processes for online engagement with no consistent expectations around their participation.

Effective online engagement between government and its stakeholders supports the delivery of Better Public Services Results 9 and 10. The provision of a well-designed, all-of-government online engagement service would enable New Zealand pubilc, businesses and communities to increase their engagement with, and their contribution to, government decision making processes, and increase the efficiency of their interactions.

The Directions and Priorities for Government ICT commits to open and transparent government and defines a change in focus towards shared approaches and shared solutions. GOES would support priorities for open government, integrated service delivery, and cross-government business capability by:

  • enabling more meaningful engagement between government and its stakeholders by lowering the barriers to participation, and making greater involvement possible from a broader range of people;
  • providing a more connected approach to engagement across government, especially where the same stakeholders are involved in multiple engagement activities;
  • improving transparency and quality of government decisions and therefore increasing the commitment to government outcomes;
  • reducing cost and increasing efficiency of the public service by reducing duplication of investment in tools across government;
  • removing the need for agencies to approach the market for a solution independently every time they choose to conduct an online engagement process, reducing the costs of conducting online engagement;
  • improving online access and management of information gathered during engagement processes; and,
  • improving end-to-end management of the policy development process and associated service delivery to engagement participants by standardising and automating key aspects of engagement management, communication, and submission analysis.

Under the Better Local Government Reform Programme, the Local Government Efficiency Taskforce is looking at potential improvements to local government consultation. In particular the Taskforce is examining whether current consultation requirements and practices are fit for purpose, particularly in today’s technological environment.

Overall, the proposed GOES would increase efficiencies for both government and stakeholders through better use of available technologies and best practice for online engagement.

Online Engagement: What does your agency need? Fill out our survey by 1 October 2012.

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