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0. E- consultation. It is the use of electronic computing and communication technologies in consultation. This complements existing consultation mechanisms.

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E consultation

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E-consultation

  • It is the use of electronic computing and communication technologies in consultation. This complements existing consultation mechanisms.

  • We aim to turn e-consultation from an experimental idea to a practical option for community, voluntary and public sector bodies in areas affected by conflict.


History

Queen’s University Belfast

June 2000: the deluge

E-consultation study group

June 2001: e-consultation workshop

experts from Netherlands, Germany and East Belfast

80 attendees from across Ireland

2002: proposed e-consultation guide

National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis

Significant body of work on new governace, development, democratication and conflict studies.

2002/2003 group members of TODOS – towards democracy and society

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History

  • Letterkenny Institute of Technology

  • Actively involved in Community development in border region for 30 years

  • 2004 - Founding of TUATH to facilitate community development and promote peace and reconciliation.

2004: research project on e-consultation


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HEA E-Consultation Project: QUB, NUI, LYITE-Consultation: evaluating appropriate technologies and processes for citizens' participation in public policy

  • Identify the social context and political implications of forms of consultation in Ireland, N & S

  • Identify appropriate e-consultation technologies and processes

  • Advise, help, study and evaluate at least two electronic consultation exercises

  • Disseminate the results through an online e-consultation guide and training workshops


Research partners

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Research Partners

  • A multidisciplinary team comprising Political theory, Sociology, Information Technology and Community Development

  • Queens University Belfast

  • National University of Ireland, Maynooth

  • Letterkenny Institute of Technology


Research on consultation

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Research on Consultation

  • Local Authorities, North and South

  • Central Government Departments, North and South

  • NGO’s, North and South


Local authorities very positive on consultations
Local authorities very positive on consultations

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Benefits of consultation

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Benefits of consultation

  • ‘Consultation has enriched the process of decision-making and has led to services meeting the needs of citizens more effectively. It has also built a sense of ownership of policies, plans and strategies among citizens.’

  • ‘Where used effectively consultation enables the Council to ensure that the policies and strategies developed have the support of the people we serve. In this way it also contributes to continuous service improvement and ensures that we are accurately providing what it is that people tell us they want.’


Reasons for initiating public consultation

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Reasons for initiating public consultation

  • There would seem to be a tendency by govt to view consultation as a way of gaining knowledge of citizen's views rather than encouraging active participation in decision-making. This, it could be argued, indicates that ‘participation’ by citizens in public consultation does not necessarily include ‘participation’ in actual decision-making but rather simply ‘participation’ in the decision-making process

  • This distinction can be critical


Why consult?

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Consultation fatigue

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Consultation Fatigue

  • Consultation fatigue is NOT seen as a significant issue by authorities. While local authorities would acknowledge some issues related to it as ‘difficult’, the concept of ‘consultation fatigue’ is certainly not detrimental to the use of public consultation


Consultation fatigue table

Not difficult at all

Extremely difficult

Very difficult

Difficult

The public are asked to engaged in too many consultation processes

25.0

14.3

28.6

32.1

Current consultation techniques are too time-consuming

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28.6

42.9

28.6

A public perception that consultation does not influence policy

25.0

21.4

39.3

14.3

14.3

17.9

35.7

32.1

The public are repeatedly asked the same questions

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Consultation Fatigue Table


One way street

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‘One way street?’

Consultation both N/S would appear to be employed as a 'one way' street. The most widely used consultation technique is ‘consultation documents’ where views are elicited from citizens.


What consultation should be about

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What consultation should be about

‘… giving people a voice, better decision making, more informed decision making. More I suppose… a sense of participation and control over their own lives and things that are important for them, you know? That’s the theory of why we need to do it…’


What consultation is about

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What consultation is about:

‘We had very poor experiences of consultations over the past years. Most agencies carrying out these overwhelm you with paper. The processes used exclude and further marginalize. It is a very disempowering experience all round…’(Consultation fatigue)

‘The Government only ‘goes through the motions’, does not genuinely listen’


Consultation in local authorities

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Consultation in local authorities

  • The most popularly used techniques are traditional; consultation documents, public meetings, service satisfaction surveys and co-option/committee involvement.

  • In comparison, the use of e-techniques is far less common, with documentary/ policy websites being the most popular.


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Technologies and tasksICTs can be used to support a range of tasks within a consultation. How important are these tasks within your consultations? Please rank them.

Technologies and tasksICTs can be used to support a range of tasks within a consultation. How important are these tasks within your consultations? Please rank them.

  • One-way information transfer

  • Supporting dialogue

  • Explore problems & plan solutions

  • Measure needs and preferences

  • Write documents

  • Manage the process

  • One-way information transfer

  • Supporting dialogue

  • Explore problems & plan solutions

  • Measure needs and preferences

  • Write documents

  • Manage the process

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20%

1 vote

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40%

2 votes

1st

3rd

5th

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80%

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1 one way information transfer

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1. One-way information transfer


2 supporting dialogue

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2. Supporting dialogue


3 explore problems plan solutions

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3. Explore problems/plan solutions

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4 measure needs and preferences

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4. Measure needs and preferences


5 write documents

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5. Write documents


Open question how to integrate e consultation tasks in a consultation process

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Open question: how to integrate e-consultation tasks in a consultation process?


What next
What next?

  • Better understanding of consultation and e-consultation

  • What technologies and processes work best for participants?

  • What is needed for organisational implementation of e-consultation?

  • Dissemination

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seconds

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