Appendix C: Key Conditions for Successful Citizen Engagement
The B.C. government has created a draft Citizen Engagement Handbook to assist employees in their step-by-step planning for consultations. Now for the first time, there are also draft ‘conditions’ that set expectations for successful public engagement. These ‘conditions’ have been developed based on Lessons Learned, feedback from staff involved in projects, and consultation with internal engagement champions. The ‘conditions’ are intended to identify to government employees involved in public engagement how to achieve a successful citizen engagement experience.
A Citizen Engagement document is prepared that will guide decision making and planning
- The engagement plan includes:
- A clear purpose statement;
- A definition of the primary and second audience;
- A reasonable timeframe for the public to provide comments, at minimum 4 weeks to provide input, using tools that are suitable, at times in the year that make sense for the specific audience to be available;
- A description or options for the engagement design and tools that will be used; and
- The engagement plan has been reviewed by the program area and GCPE shop.
There is a clear governance structure, resources, budget and support for the engagement
- There is clear support for the engagement plan and an understanding of the risks and issues from the Ministry Executive, Minister’s Office, etc.;
- Reporting structures, escalation processes and roles are identified;
- Someone in a leadership role is designated to be the public face for the engagement;
- A budget is established to implement the process; and
- A work plan is created that identifies resources/skill sets required for the different phases of the project.
Engagement Planning and Design
Based on the purpose and audience, you will need to finalize the process and tools that will be used to engage. Regardless of the process, you must ensure the needs of the First Nations, young people, single parent families, people who are unemployed or low income, seniors, persons with disabilities and people in rural areas are considered in your planning. You will need to have found ways to ensure representative participation for regions, age and demographics.
Face to Face Processes
Face to face processes will be created based on the advice of the Designing Face to Face Engagement Handbook. Some important components:
- Citizens should receive 2 week notice of the event. The process for notifying citizens is planned with GCPE Ministry and GCPE marketing division;
- Citizens can easily find event information on a web site and have a contact email for follow-up and questions;
- Any emails between citizens and government/contractors about the logistics are responded to in a timely manner, with a customer service focus;
- Adequate resources are dedicated to coordinate and communicate the logistics of the face to face events;
- Event locations accommodate First Nations, young people, single parent families, people who are unemployed or low income, seniors, persons with disabilities and people in rural areas.
- Contextual information for the engagement topic will be written in an easy to understand, accessible format that has been approved by Ministry GCPE;
- A communications and issues plan is created specifically for these events;
- A methodology for recording citizen comments is developed; and
- Results of face to face meetings are recorded, like how many people attended.
Online processes will be created based on government engagement template and based on advice from the Citizen Engagement team. Some important components:
- The URL has Joint Working Group approval;
- The home page includes a very clear, concise purpose statement that will explain to the public what is happening to citizen comments, the closing date for the engagement and when citizens can expect to hear back about the results;
- The questions being posed to the public will be easy to read and understand and focus tested with some citizens;
- The electronic tools selected to engage the public have been discussed with and approved for use by the Executive Director, Citizen Engagement;
- Engagement web sites will follow the prescribed engagement template which includes consistent branding, navigation and URL naming;
- The top navigation will follow government standard, and include basic information that will provide context for the engagement;
- The graphics, images and content that is used is in accordance with the Canadian Copyright Act and any other legally recognized licenses and permissions, and approval of GCPE graphics; and
- The privacy impacts of the processes are discussed with the OCIO and all necessary forms (like the Privacy Impact Assessment) are completed prior to the engagement launch.
Engagement – Implementation
- In the case of a blog, moderators will be trained and provided with information about moderation policy, standards of conduct and social media guidelines;
- In the case of a blog, moderators will be cordial, welcoming, friendly and interactive;
- The tactics within the communications plan for informing the public are implemented and adjusted based on progress and success;
- The stakeholders are informed, know about and help to spread the word;
- The engagement information is posted to govTogetherBC;
- The first report on progress occurs within the first business day of launch and regularly for the duration of the engagement;
- Promotion is regular and often during the period the engagement is open;
- Government social media channels are used to promote the engagement;
- Comments begin to be analyzed for themes and ideas;
- A news release informs citizens about the closing of an engagement, one week prior to engagement close; and
- Weekly project meetings occur while the engagement is open, to check in on the status and to make any course corrections.
Engagement – Close Out
- On project close, the engagement home page indicates specifically when citizens can expect the results of their input and how they will hear back;
- On project close, the content on the web will be changed to reflect a closed process;
- govTogetherBC will be informed of the closing date;
- Contributors will be thanked for their participation;
- The results will be posted to the site when the analysis is complete. The engagement web site is closed within 6 months of posting the results, the contextual content is moved to Ministry web site, and comments archived according to government records policy;
- Lessons learned are documented and shared internally; and
- A final results page will be posted to govTogetherBC.