Citizen Engagement in Our Public Service – Case Studies June 2020

The Reform Delivery Office (RDO) in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has developed a series of case studies on citizen engagement, in partnership with researchers and public bodies, as a commitment under the Our Public Service 2020, Development and Innovation Framework.

The key objectives of this initiative are to:

  • Document and capture learning around implementation and delivery of citizen engagement initiatives;
  • Acknowledge progress made and share best practice in citizen engagement initiatives; and
  • Create valuable educational resources that add to the existing body of knowledge on the Irish Public Service.

These case studies are not intended to be evaluations of the overall success and impact of the case examined, rather, the aim is to capture reflections on citizen engagement initiatives.

Furthermore, by telling the story behind these Case Studies, it is hoped to communicate achievements and lessons learned and to acknowledge the significant progress that has been made under Action 4 of Our Public Service – to significantly improve communications and engagement with the public.

The case studies initiative builds on the pilot case studies project that was undertaken by the RDO in 2017. The pilot project was established to produce teaching resources for lecturers and students of public policy and public administration, as well as for those broadly interested in public policy and its implementation. The initiative is intended to encourage learning among students and practitioners of public policy and also to inform the design and implementation process of future policy.

Four Case Studies on Citizen Engagement have been undertaken by the RDO, in collaboration with the following public bodies and research institutions:

  1. Comhairle na nÓg and Ireland’s National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-making 2015 – 2020 – Department of Children and Youth Affairs in collaboration with the University of Limerick (UL)
  2. €300k – Have Your Say – South Dublin County Council in collaboration with the Institute of Public Administration (IPA)
  3. Public Participation Networks (PPN) – Department of Rural and Community Development in collaboration with the Centre for Effectiveness Services (CES)
  4. Basic Payment Scheme 100% Online ‘Roadshows’ – Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in collaboration with the Institute of Public Administration (IPA)

These four case studies represent a broad spectrum of citizen engagement initiatives and are being published as a compendium together with this accompanying overarching paper. This paper is designed to appeal to two main audiences- those with a particular academic interest in the subject of citizen engagement and those more broadly interested in the implementation lessons drawn through the case studies.

The literature on citizen engagement is outlined and the case studies are considered in the context of a Spectrum on Citizen Engagement and through the lens of citizen engagement themes: strengthening democracy, demonstrating impact, and providing accountability.

Each of the case studies followed an agreed format designed to draw out lessons learned across all four. The background to establishment of each citizen engagement case; implementation process; challenges encountered; and lessons learned are documented in each case study. This paper considers the learning captured around implementation, which may inform the design and implementation process of future policy.

The Case Studies benefit from the input of the key public policy practitioners who led and continue to lead these citizen engagement initiatives, and are based on interviews and research undertaken by leading researchers.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform would like to acknowledge the contributions of all those involved in the production of these Case Studies, without who time and dedication, this project would not have been possible.

The Department would in particular like to acknowledge the work of the authors, Dr Maura Adshead, Associate Professor, University of Limerick, Dr Richard Boyle, Institute for Public Administration, Dublin, Ann Colgan, Centre for Effective Services, Dublin, Joanna O’Riordan, Institute for Public Administration, Dublin.

Reform Delivery Office
June 2020