Counting the cost of consultation – The basic laws of arithmetic apply to consultation as well!
Public consultation is not traditional accountant-territory. Few consultation projects are formally budgeted, and many of the costs involved are normally funded from larger departmental or functional budget allocations.
If you run a sizeable corporate communications department with a substantial budget earmarked for publicity, it may appear dogmatic hair-splitting to account separately for distributing leaflets inviting local residents to a public meeting. After all, aren’t consultation exercises but a sub-set of the wider task of public engagement?
Well yes …… and no! It is true that it is sometimes inconvenient to untangle cost allocations, but it is also high time a degree of financial discipline was exercised over consultations. The Institute estimates that the public sector alone spends over 100 million Pounds on public and stakeholder consultation, and there is natural concern that taxpayers receive value for money.
Here are three good reasons why consultations should be properly costed:-