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Experts Publics and open policy

Experts, publics and open policy-making: Opening the windows and doors of Whitehall

Executive summary

Open policy-making is the explicit articulation of an inescapable trend in the future direction of policy-making and Civil Service reform. This is partly a result of changes in the expectations of citizens, and partly the result of technological changes, both of which mean that institutions are being scrutinised ever more closely.

These themes were explored in a Sciencewise seminar earlier this year. The seminar explored a range of questions raised by the Coalition Government’s moves to open up policy-making.

This paper draws on the presentations and participants’ contributions during the seminar to explore the potential for, and barriers to, more public voice within policy-making.

Have your say


Posted by Simon Burall, 22/07/2013 1:18pm (4 years ago)

Andrew, thanks for picking up on this and our potentially loose language in the pamphlet. You are right to highlight this. The Sciencewise principles ( are very clear that dialogue 'feeds directly into the policy-making process' and that the government is 'committed to listening to and taking account of views expressed in our policy and decision-making'.

This is not the same as the public making the decision, and you highlighted in your email to me that early on in the pamphlet we talk about involving the public in decision-making. We certainly wouldn't want people to read that as public dialogue meaning that citizens are directly involved in the process of taking the decision. A better phrase is probably 'involving the public in policy making' which makes clear that we mean decision-making in a much wider sense.

For many I suspect this distinction is probably splitting hairs, but given that ensuring absolute clarity of purpose is the hallmark of good public engagement (including dialogue) untangling these things is important.

Posted by Andrew Acland, 22/07/2013 10:58am (4 years ago)

Excellent paper and very useful. Just to be clear: public dialogue contributes to the overall process of policy-making; actual, specific decisions remain the preserve of Ministers as per Sciencewise guiding principles.

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