Focus on Citizens

Public Engagement for Better Policy and Services

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Complex policy issues cannot be solved by government alone. Delivering high-quality public services at the least cost and achieving shared public policy goals requires innovative approaches and greater involvement of citizens. This book is a valuable source of information on government performance in fostering open and inclusive policy making in 25 countries. It offers rich insights into current practice through 14 in-depth country case studies and 18 opinion pieces from leading civil society and government practitioners. It includes 10 guiding principles to support open and inclusive policy making and service delivery in practice. 


“Including more people, earlier and more creatively, in public policy issues is vital not just to secure legitimacy for policy decisions, but also to unlock a mass of creativity and commitment. Innovation is increasingly going to become an open, social and networked activity. That is true in politics and policy as much as in business. This timely, thoughtful book will help make open innovation in public policy a practical reality.”

-Charles Leadbeater, author We-think: Mass innovation not mass production 


“We cannot engage the public only on issues of service delivery, but need also to seek their views, energy and resources when shaping public policy. To do otherwise is to create a false distinction between design and delivery, when in the citizens’ eyes it is all connected.”

-Irma Pavliniè Krebs, Minister of Public Administration, the Republic of Slovenia


Focus on Citizens shines a light on the practical difficulties and significant benefits of open and inclusive policy making – not only for OECD member country governments but equally for non-member countries.” 

-Bart W. Édes, Head, NGO and Civil Society Center, Asian Development Bank



Leveraging Technology to Engage Young People

As obvious as it may sound, it must be stressed that an open and inclusive government cannot truly exist without including youth. A government cannot hope to be inclusive in the future if the youth of today – future voters and future contributors to open policy – are already being “disengaged” by systems that seem outmoded and irrelevant to their lifestyle. The antidote to disengagement is to identify technologies that young people use on a daily basis, provide us with government services in a form that we are used to and then back it up with legal structures that demonstrate that government is able to adapt to our technical innovations. To a young person, the fact that putting music from a CD they own on to their iPod is still illegal (in New Zealand at least) is a clear reason to believe that government has no relevance to their daily lives. To appear relevant, and be truly inclusive, government must not allow itself to fall behind change in the way voters live.


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