Good quality engagement by government can solve complex problems, can lead to better solutions and build enduring relationships with individuals and groups in the community.
Good engagement practice and ensuring a focus on engagement capability are important drivers of good quality policy outcomes. Policy problems are increasingly complex. Tapping into expertise from the public and our communities can assist us solve problems and promote greater trust and confidence in government. Designing engagement at the outset with a clear promise of the level of influence on decision-making, and choosing engagement methods that reflect that promise are integral to a successful outcome from community engagement.
Engagement can do the heavy lifting of policy development – and involves the exchange of ideas to help define a policy project and understand the issues or opportunities at the outset. Done well, it develops a shared understanding of what’s to be delivered for individuals and groups in communities, why, for whom, by when, and how.
The Policy Project’s policy improvement frameworks and associated tools provide support for agencies and policy practitioners to improve engagement capability:
- The Policy Capability Framework helps agencies carry out an assessment of their engagement and customer focus capability, and produce an action plan to develop their engagement capability.
- The Policy Skills Framework sets out the knowledge, applied skills and behaviours required of policy practitioners in engagement and collaboration.
- The Development Pathways Tool identifies key actions policy practitioners can take to develop their own engagement and collaboration capability at three levels of competence.
Te Arawhiti’s Māori Crown Relationship Capability Framework includes guidance for agencies to improve Māori Crown relationship capability. The framework describes three levels of competency including specific engagement capabilities. One element sets out competencies for agencies (Organisational Capability Component) and one for individuals to build their own Māori Crown Capability (Individual Capability Component).
Your government agency may also have developed additional tools to support good community engagement practice, including having engagement or relationship managers who can support the engagement design, planning and management process.
New Zealand is a signatory to the International Open Government Partnership Agreement which promotes the adoption of open and transparent governance including the participation of citizens in policy-making.
Under the Open Government Partnership work programme the Policy Project has developed a set of community engagement resources for agencies and policy teams to support community engagement in policy making.
A Guide for Central and Local Government Engagement provides support for agencies carrying out engagement with local authorities on policy development.
The Department of Internal Affairs has online engagement tools to support digital engagement design and process.
The Cabinet Office sets out requirements for consultation in the Cab Guide which is available online.