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Re-Post: “Open Policy Making 101″ Checklist

The following was originally published on November 13, 2009 on Tim Bonnemann’s Intellitics blog. With Tim’s permission, I’m re-posting his great post rather than composing something new (thanks, Tim!).

Over on the recently re-launched Ascentum blog, Joseph Peters (Partner at Ascentum) and Joe Goldman (Vice President of Citizen Engagement at AmericaSpeaks) just published a neat list of ten key questions to consider before launching an online public consultation: Open Policy Making 101: 10 Questions To Ask Before Launching Your Online Public Consultation:

  1. What do you want to know?
  2. What is your commitment to participants?
  3. Who needs to participate?
  4. How hot is the issue?
  5. What type of contribution are you looking for?
  6. What type of data will you collect and analyze?
  7. What are your timelines?
  8. What resources are available to support the process?
  9. How can participants stay involved?
  10. Which online tools should you use?

The document (PDF, 916 KB) lays out these principles in good details. Once again, the recommendations are concerned about good process first and tools second.

Their take on timelines is fairly specific, and I would like to hear if others in this field can either confirm or add to it:

Generally speaking, a process that is open to the general public should be live for four to six weeks to ensure adequate participation.

Finally, here’s their item number ten:

10. Which online tools should you use?

This question is intentionally left until last in this list. Many organizations choose a shiny new tool and decide to use it before carefully considering their overall approach. This ends up having the software drive the process and not the objectives. There are many tools and solutions to choose from, each with unique strengths and weaknesses. The options are endless, but you need to match the tool to your strategy based on the questions you have already answered from the list above.

Exactly. And supporting that mapping process of finding the right tools for the job is something we’d like to see ParticipateDB grow into over time.

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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  1. Tim says:

    Thanks, Sandy! Kudos to Ascentum and AmericaSpeaks for coming up with this list in the first place.

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