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Report urges greater government use of ‘digital channels’
Source: publictechnology.net
Source Date: Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Created: Sep 08, 2010

The Government should make greater use of crowdsourcing as a way of encouraging higher levels of citizen engagement in policy and service design, according to a new report from Econsultancy.

The report, Digital Engagement in the Public Sector, was authored by independent government advisor Tom Raggett, and is based on a series of interview with the directors of communications at 20 major government departments.
 
While many areas of government have been described in the report as having made “excellent progress” in engaging citizens through their own websites and social media websites such as Twitter and YouTube, Raggett said a need to become more proactive remains.
 
“Fewer Departments are systematically moving to the conversation stage, although there are some examples of good participative engagement,” he said. “Most digital engagement is still reactive to events and requests rather than proactive. To some extent this represents a lack of awareness of digital engagement options and a reluctance to use them sufficiently early in policy and communications planning.”
 
Since coming to power after May’s General Election, the coalition government has launched two crowdsourcing sites (Your Freedom and Spending Challenge) to gauge the public’s thoughts, though they have not been without their own problems.
 
Raggett added, “Econsultancy’s research has found that Government Departments have made great strides in dealing with the breadth of digital engagement options available to them. It is clear that there is an appetite for greater and enhanced use of digital engagement.”
 
 “A number of Departments believe that they can save money by doing engagement and consultation online. One risk here is that the volume of responses and time taken to consider and respond to them could negate any benefits in putting the consultation online in the first place.
 
“Others see digital engagement as a way of reaching very specific stakeholder groups in a targeted way and thus reduce costs compared with broadcast messages. An example might be the GCHQ advertising campaign for new applicants on electronic billboards in computer games based on stealth and ingenuity.”
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