Report on German experience of E-consultation and public engagement
The University of Applied Sciences, Cologne have just released
their report on an innovative online consultation run in partnership
with Dialogue by Design for the Deutscher Bundestag (German Parliament).
The report "How
would you like it to be?" discusses the results
from the consultation about the design and content of the
website - a significant issue for a parliament wanting to involve
people more closely in the political process.
According to the report’s author Prof. Dr. Simone Fühles-Ubach,
the online consultation process revealed points of criticism and
suggestions from internet users that could not have been identified
in advance, and would not have been revealed using previous consultation
methods such as forums or questionnaires.
The key to this was the multi-stage, deliberative nature of the
online consultation process.
In stage one, participants were invited to enter short responses
to the question “What information, functionalities and
content offerings would you like the website of the German Bundestag
to provide?“ into a web-based form. Open text boxes
were provided for people to enter up to 10 ideas for improvements
to the Bundestag website.
Over 1100 people registered to participate and 493 people made
1121 comments in the first stage. This was an excellent level
of participation given that the subject was relatively uncontroversial.
In stage two, all the responses were collated, analysed and displayed
back on the consultation website. Participants were then asked
to review the findings and prioritise all the suggestions. At
this stage many participants gave high priority to issues that
they had previously not considered - illustrating the value
of enabling participants to benefit from, and be influenced by,
the opinions and suggestions of others.
In the third stage of this transparent process, all of the prioritised
results were displayed online and participants evaluated the process.
The Bundestag then published a response to the results explaining
how they would address each issue raised.
As Prof. Dr. Simone Fühles-Ubach, Project director at the
University of Applied Sciences, Cologne states:
“This exercise enabled a truly deliberative approach
to consultation with very large numbers of people. We are extremely
pleased with the participation rates and the results generated.
Active cooperation between the Administration of the Bundestag
and citizens has begun.”
For more information, contact Erwin
Juenemann at Dialogue by Design.