House of Commons Information Committee, Digital Technology: Working for Parliament and Public (2002) (not available online).
This report sets out a number of recommendations for the conduct of future online consultations:
- the purpose and terms of the consultation should be made clear at the outset, both to those initiating the consultation and those participating in it. Consultations may range from a simple invitation to submit views to a more deliberative and interactive debate including senior decision makers.
- it must be made clear to participants that they are not being asked to make policy but to inform the thinking of legislators;
- efforts need to be made to recruit participants, whether individuals or organisations, who can impart experience and expertise;
- special efforts are needed to make online consultations socially inclusive: these may include training in the necessary ICT skills and directions to public Internet access for participants;
- contributions to consultations need to be interpreted or summarised by an independent body or staff;
- a good consultation exercise will bring value to both the decision makers and the consultees. This can be tested through effective evaluation procedures, which should be built into each consultation proposal. These should be both quantitative and qualitative. Of particular value would be follow-up with a selection of both consultees and decision makers to assess the value of the consultation to them. The results of any evaluation should be produced in good time and made available to all participants;
- participants should receive feedback on the outcomes of the consultations. In each case, the consultee should be given clear information on what they can expect, perhaps in the form of a "consultation contract."
- Stephen Coleman, Connecting Parliament to the Public Via the Internet: Two Case Studies of Online Consultations (2004) (full-text).