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Annotated Guidelines on Consultation: 5 Methods Overview

Page history last edited by starkfamily1@... 17 years, 3 months ago

Methods of Consultation

• Informal and Formal Methods

• Stakeholder and representative groups

• Focus groups

• Public meetings and conference events

• Practitioner panels and Industry-Government forums

• Citizens' juries and deliberative forums

• Questionnaire based surveys

• e-consultation

• Written consultation

1. Consult widely throughout the process, allowing a minimum of 12 weeks for written consultation at least once during the development of the policy.

Criterion 1, Code of Practice on Consultation, p.6

Criterion 1 specifies that conducting a written consultation for at least 12 weeks is one of the minimum requirements for achieving compliance with the Code. However, you should use at least one other method of consultation as well as written consultation. By doing this you will build stakeholder capacity and increase trust in the consultative process.

Different consultation methods produce very different types of responses. This is especially true of informal methods, such as focus groups and workshops, where participants often feel able to give more detailed, specific comments more freely than through a response to a written consultation document.

Consider which of the following methods you could best use to target your stakeholders most effectively:

Informal and formal methods

You can find out more about the methods listed here by clicking on the title of each section, or by scrolling down to the next section.

Informal Methods:

a) Stakeholder and Representative groups

Consultation can be made more effective if you engage with key stakeholder groups throughout the process, but especially in the initial scoping and planning stages. Representative groups share a common interest or opinion on a particular subject (for example an environmental or political issue) and can be very useful in providing detailed advice and information on a specific topic.


b) Focus groups

Focus groups are useful to gauge the opinion of a small group of people through informal discussion.

c) Public meetings and Conference events

Public meetings and conferences can be used to share information and assess the opinions of a large, diverse group. They need careful planning and must be well publicised if they are to be effective.

d) Practitioner Panels and Industry-Government Forums

Some Government departments have set up panels of experts in the public and private sectors to scrutinise new policy proposals. You may find it useful to consult a practitioner panel or Government-Industry Forum if you are proposing a policy which may have a significant impact on Industry or the public sector.


e) Citizens' juries and Deliberative forums

Citizens' Juries and Deliberative Forums are useful tools to gauge the opinion of a random, representative group of people. They are usually used to explore opinions on high profile or contentious issues. They need to be planned very carefully and can be expensive.

f) Surveys / questionnaires

Closed question based surveys can be valuable to ascertain definitive responses to set questions. Responses can be translated into hard statistics which will allow you to easily assess which of your policy options is the most popular.

g) e-consultation

Electronic, or 'e-consultation' through the internet has become a popular and efficient method of consulting with large numbers of people. E-consultation can take many forms: from simple 'tick-box' questionnaires to interactive quizzes and 'gaming' style formats.

Formal Methods:

h) Written consultation

Carrying out a written consultation for a minimum of 12 weeks is compulsory if your consultation is to be compliant with the Code.

i) e-consultation

Where respondents are able to respond electronically to a copy of your written consultation document on the web, e-consultation can also be considered to be a form of formal consultation.

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