igovt public consultation
There were so many insights from attending focus groups during the igovt public consultation that it’s hard to pick just one. Certainly, one that made a lasting impression was a lady with a disability who spoke emotively about how the service would make a huge positive difference for her in getting services from government. For her, the notion of having to prove who she was once to government and then being able to choose to use the Internet to verify her identity- both across government and the private sector- was compelling.
So, what was the igovt public consultation all about?
Late last year the Department of Internal Affairs, with the support of the State Services Commission, consulted with people about igovt. Specifically, the consultation was about the Identity Verification Service, one of the two igovt services.
The details and context for the service have evolved since the previous public consultation in 2003. It was therefore important to seek the views of the public about key aspects of the proposed service before the service design was finalised.
Public consultation was also essential for continuing the transparency that has been a hallmark of developing igovt services. In particular, for services based on policy principles such as opt-in and acceptability, it is important to check with people that the service design has resulted in a service that is indeed of value to them.
The public consultation process asked people to get information from the website and send in submissions. At the planning stage for the consultation it was clear that we needed to be more proactive to get deeper and wider participation.
21 focus groups were therefore held in 8 places across New Zealand- Whangarei, Manukau, Tokoroa, New Plymouth, Porirua, Westport, Christchurch, and Invercargill. The workshops were three hours long and included a demonstration of how the service would work. It turned out that the demonstration was critical in helping people understand the service and thereby provide well-informed responses.
I was personally present at a few of these workshops to do the demonstration and also answer any questions about the service that people had. For me, it was an immensely rewarding experience. To get firsthand insight into people’s views is far richer and meaningful than getting it from a report.
[Original post at http://blog.e.govt.nz/index.php/2008/04/17/igovt-public-consultation/]