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The Open Government Information and Data Programme successfully used an online consensus and decision making tool. Digital.govt.nz will also test the value this type of tool would add to online engagement.

Public sector agencies can struggle to have the expertise needed to set up, manage, monitor, collect and analyse the results from online engagements.

And people can find it hard to participate due to being time poor and sporadically available.

Instead of emailing feedback on a long consultation document or answering a survey, what if you could take part in an online discussion with public sector agencies about how to solve a problem and help make a decision? What if you could raise an idea or have a discussion with public sector agencies and individuals and NGOs to come up with a solution that works for everyone? This is ‘participatory democracy’ and it could be easier to achieve thanks to online collaboration spaces.

Successful use for NZ Government Open Access and Licensing framework extension

This participatory approach is what the Open Government Information and Data Programme used successfully in 2016.

Programme Leader Paul Stone and Community Manager Cam Findlay ran a consultation to help develop a framework for consistent licensing of NZ Government open source software.

The consultation used GitHub and Loomio:

  • GitHub is a web-based hosting service for version control.
  • Loomio software helps people collaborate to make decisions together online.

Being able to link back from changes in the redraft in GitHub to the relevant conversation in Loomio was critical, says Paul.

'We released an earlier draft (not highly polished and finely honed) — this was greatly appreciated and opened the door for people to feeling more engaged in contributing improvement. After initial discussion we then redrafted in public on GitHub and were able to link changes in the policy document to the discussions about it in Loomio, which meant that people could see the rationale for the change and also where their input has directly led to change. After the initial redraft further participation was enabled to fine-tune and clarify meaning on the latest version on GitHub.'

As Paul says on Loomio Blog, 'The consultation differed from the usual submission process in that it was undertaken through online conversations where ideas could be considered, questions could be raised and consensus was much easier to reach. Loomio has been hugely useful in giving a read of opinion. Because of the two-way conversations, it enables open dialogue to take place and it made it much easier to identify a consensus.'

NZ Government carries out open and transparent policy consultation about open source — Loomio Blog

Case study: Open source software licensing — ict.govt.nz

Open source software release saves nearly $1m — data.govt.nz

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