Here are some more great ideas that I have picked up from the National Assembly for Wales. Thanks to the fantastic Kevin Davies for sharing these in what was a sort of unofficial fringe event we had just before GovCampCymru (by the way, big thanks to all at Satori Lab who made govcampcymru possible and to all the sponsors and supporters and to Ben and Lou from Delib who really know their public engagement stuff).
Our scrutiny team have spent time with the Assembly before talking about public engagement. You can read about that here.
Anyhow, here are five ideas for engaging the public that scrutiny can borrow from the National Assembly.
1. Support your scrutiny connectorsI have already blogged about this in more detail here.
Essentially the idea is that scrutiny committees could do more to support and reward the wide range of people who help them to gather evidence. Recognition, information and networking opportunities are all simple things that could be done to strengthen the double doughnut of democracy.
2. Involve the public in inquiry planningPlanning in depth inquiries tends to be done in house. But why not invite the public in to co-design inquiries? Perhaps a workshop involving some of the people most affected by the issue in question? This should help scrutiny councillors get some really good insights about who they need to talk to and how.
3. Delegate parts of an inquiryOne interesting suggestion was that some evidence gathering could be delegated. This might mean asking one committee member to take responsibility for an aspect of an inquiry and report back. It might even mean asking a interested co-optee to do something like this – a kind of special agent for scrutiny.
4. Facebook LiveThe Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee of the National Assembly for Wales used facebook live as part of asking the public what topics they should be looking at and it worked really well. Of course it helps if you have an active facebook page that you can add this to but most councils have that right?
5. Give the public a shortlist of topics to choose fromThe other neat thing that the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee did as part of their public engagement was ask the public to pick from one of five topics that the committee had come up with. Typically, I think, scrutiny tends to ask people an open question about what they would like scrutiny to look at and it can be difficult for people to follow what the outcome was. This way is much cleaner I think and has a very straightforward outcome – the most popular topic gets scrutinised!
It also got some interest from the media - as you can see here.