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Digital in policy making: where are the challenges?

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Capability, Engagement

On 25 February we held the second meeting of the BIS digital in policy group.

At the first meeting, we talked about a set of principles for digital in policy making, asked members to self assess their knowledge and experience into one of 3 groups:

  • A for those with little or no understanding of digital and how it might be applied to policy making
  • B for those with limited understanding
  • C for those people who have used digital in policy making (but perhaps only on one project, a little while ago)

We also asked members to come back to this next meeting with ideas for specific policy challenges where digital might help.

And by jove, they certainly have:

  • How do I deploy the right tool for the right situation?
  • How do (should) we bring audiences together online?
  • How do we change the internal culture of the Department – in particular our attitude to risk.
  • How do we balance the quality as well of quantity of response that we might receive online? Is a large response necessarily a balanced one? We cannot presume that our online audience will be varied.
  • We need to think about the ordering and sorting of responses, pre-consultation.
  • What data tools are helpful to support analysis of responses?
  • How do we manage a feedback loop back for online audiences?
  • How does early consultation maintain transparency, while also managing expectations about the outcome?
  • How do we convince the rest of the Department of the importance of “keeping stakeholders warm” i.e. informing them of the development of policy.

At first glance, there are a lot of big questions and tasks here, but I'm excited about these, because they represent a big leap forward for the group, from 'how do I use Twitter to communicate'.

After talking through some of these challenges and ideas, we sorted back in our A, B, C groups to discuss in more detail.

The purpose of the group is to work out some solutions to the barriers to digital, and help disseminate and support best practice across the department.

With this in mind, each group has come up with a selection of tips to share with colleagues, myths (and answers to dispel these), and ideas for testing and sharing digital practice among their respective teams.

Some of the practical ideas include helping teams understand how people make time for digital, by reviewing feeds and alerts on the train to work, or combining these with media reports. It also became apparent that some members were already applying digital, having built their own dashboards or sets of useful links, but were not yet sharing these within their team.

There was also a lot of shared ideas on utilising digital for internal networking and collaboration, and a widespread need to dispel the idea that this approach to digital has to wait until new computers are rolled out.

Each group took away a number of actions, to deliver before the next meeting in a month's time. I'm not going to list every action here, but in the interests of members supporting the values of digital in policy making, each person with an action is going to blog about their activity, however specific or simple it might appear.

Look out for these posts in the coming weeks, and in the meantime keep the ideas and questions coming.

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1 comment

  1. Comment by karen posted on

    The digital policy making conundrum seemed far closer to being solved after attending this meeting and some of the isolation felt by ditial policy makers, of which I include myself, disappeared.

    I keep coming back to the challenges and wondering how they can be overcome.No immediate solutions but I have set myself a challenge of making my team digital. I've arranged to chair the team talk on going digital and have started work on identifying ways we can do this on some of the policy areas we cover. A small step...

    Whilst searching for inspiration I came across this;

    Perhaps we are not alone in facing cultural challenges - instead an opportunity to collaborate and learn togther?


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