The Public Administration Select Committee of the UK Parliament issued a Report on Public Engagement in Policymaking calling for “wiki style” approaches to policymaking and creating greater engagement in the workings of government.
The Report, which is the result of a extensive consultation, including three live testimonies before the Committee (Full disclosure: I had the pleasure of being a witness) and extensive written submissions advocates a smarter government strategy of using online tools to elicit more information without ceding responsibility for decisionmaking. Rather, civil servants should steward the process of engagement in the public interest.
To govern is to choose. Open policy-making should take debate outside Whitehall and into the community as a whole, but ultimate responsibility and accountability for leadership must remain with Ministers and senior civil servants. Once again, we emphasise the importance of leadership in Government; of effective strategic thinking, which involves choosing between different arguments, reconciling conflicting opinions and arbitrating between different groups and interests; and of effective governance of departments and their agencies. A process of engagement, which can reach beyond the “Westminster village” and the “usual suspects”, will itself be an act of leadership, but there can be no abdication of that leadership.