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Paperless Consultation – Has the goal of e-enabling consultations been achieved?

We’ve just passed the 2005 deadline for e-enabling the citizens’ interactions with Government and its agencies.

Beyond the predictable and competing claims of success by the programme’s supporters and carping criticisms from its opponents, it is worth remembering that the whole e-government initiative has been a journey into the unknown. In historic terms, five years is a very short time, but the pace of technological change has been relentless, and in hindsight this has been mostly a leap of faith.

For consultation and other public participation applications, it is worth recalling some of the arguments which have raged. Service providers in Local Government and elsewhere struggled with tight budgets whilst watching ICT departments showered with money they never requested just to build websites that no-one used. Then there were issues about the digital divide. In one breath, public bodies were being told to be more inclusive and seek the views of the hard-to-reach; in another they were being urged to use forms of e-consultation which effectively disenfranchised half the population!


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About the Author

Rhion Jones is considered a leading authority on Public Engagement and Consultation. A founding Director of the Consultation Institute, he is co-author of “The Art of Consultation” (2009) and “The Politics of Consultation” (2018). He has delivered over 500 training courses and Masterclasses and is a prolific writer on the subject, having written over 350 different Topic papers and over 50 full Briefing Papers for the Institute. Since 2003 over 15,000 person-days of training based on courses he invented have been delivered. Rhion is in demand as an entertaining Keynote Speaker and Special Adviser, particularly on the Law of Consultation, and its implications for Government and other Public Bodies. In 2017, he was awarded the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’.

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