Open Policy

Credit: opensourceway

This is our first project, in partnership with The Democratic Society. You can get involved by visiting the discussion space for the project, hosted by DemSoc in association with the Cabinet Office - and of course you can also share your views on this site.


The Government’s Civil Service Reform White Paper published in June 2012 contained a commitment to ‘open policy making’. It said:

“Open policy making will become the default. Whitehall does not have a monopoly on policy making expertise. We will establish a clear model of open policy making.”

As those with experience of open government know, there are different degrees and definitions of ‘open’. However, it’s certainly welcome that the Government is putting openness as the default position in its policy making, and it’s a high standard for it to meet.

Despite the formal announcement, there’s still a lot of detail to be filled in on what open policy making will really mean, and so we’re delighted to be kicking off a new six-month project on how public involvement and new forms of consultation might work in an open policy future.

What we want to know

We want to answer three basic questions:

  • what does the best consultation and open policy making look like today, and what tools are available that government can use to meet its goals?
  • what will the best consultation and open policy making look like in five years’ time?
  • what does government need to do today, in terms of technology or organisational change, to make that five-year vision happen?

Over the next few months, we will be working to:

  • identify a range of ways of engaging and making policy openly and examine the benefits and disadvantages of different approaches.
  • talk to policy makers and many others, about the principles of open policy making and what is needed to develop the approach.
  • develop a vision for where open policy making could be in five years.
  • bring in experts from the technology sector to support the vision and develop the digital context for consultation.

Who we’re working with

This is a big area of work, and we will be working alongside other partners. We’ve had support for our thinking from within Whitehall, particularly within the Government Digital Service, who have given us insights into their thinking, and encouraged us to consider the technological as well as political requirements for next-generation public involvement.

We’ll be bringing in a range of other people and organisations, both as project partners and discussion participants. We aim to run the discussion largely online, with a workshop in the late Autumn to consider a vision for the five-year future.

We will also be involving a range of Whitehall and local government officials to get the view from inside, and we’re grateful for support that we have already been offered on logistics.

Get involved

The discussion space for the project, hosted by DemSoc, is now open.

You can also keep an eye on our blog and the Democratic Society blog for updates, or get in touch if you’d like to help out.


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