The best-laid schemes? The provision and accessibility of government consultation information in the UK.
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BAXTER, G., 2010. The best-laid schemes? The provision and accessibility of government consultation information in the UK. Libri, 60 (3), pp. 253-267.
In recent years, government at all levels in the UK has increasingly recognised the need for ongoing dialogue between policy makers and stakeholders during the policymaking process. Prompted by a number of factors, including devolution and New Labour's Modernising Government agenda, the number of public consultation exercises conducted annually has grown considerably since the late 1990's. Yet very little has been written on the information management and communication issues surrounding government consultations, nor on the mechanisms of the consultative process more broadly. This paper reports the results of a study (part of a larger ESRC-funded project) which has examined in some detail the provision and accessibility of government consultation information in the UK, with a particular emphasis on information relating to written consultation exercises conducted by the Scottish Government. This study examined the accessibility and communication of information at all stages of the consultation process, from the publication of the consultation paper at the beginning of the exercise, to the production of analysis and feedback at its conclusion. It revealed that, despite the existence of government good practice guidelines which emphasise the need for consultation information and documentation to be clear, accessible and responsive, in reality it is often missing, incomplete, or presented in inconsistent and often confusing ways. Post- consultation feedback, which provides details on how responses have influenced final policy decisions, was found to be particularly lacking.
Additional descriptionJournal Article. The conference presentation that this article was based on can be found at http://hdl.handle.net/10059/2468.
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