Regulatory policy

Focus on Citizens: Public Engagement for Better Policy and Services

Video | Main messages | Table of contents   

Did civil society contribute to this book? | What people are saying 

How to obtain this book


ISBN Number:
Publication Date:
8 June 2009
Pages: 200



Complex policy issues cannot be solved by government alone. People have a major role to play in ensuring high-quality public services economically and achieving shared public policy goals.

How are OECD governments putting the principles of open and inclusive policy making into practice?  How can they ensure broader, more inclusive, participation?


This book provides answers to these questions, and more, based on a survey of governments in 25 countries, 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.

 Video - Focus on citizens



The OECD asked government and civil society practitioners from around the world to share their views on public engagement.


Watch the video and see what they said.


 Main messages


Read the Highlights online or download them for free in the following languages:


Dutch        English      French     German     Spanish Italian    


 How public engagement can help


Open and inclusive policy making is the result of ongoing discussion. There are many legitimate perspectives, some of which are captured in this book. See what some leading voices from government, civil society and politics think about citizen-centred policy and services.


Nick Yeo, Development and Communications Manager, TakingITGlobal (Canada)

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Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, President and Founder, AmericaSpeaks  (USA)

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Jacques Wallage, Mayor of the City of Groningen (The Netherlands)

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Hon. Jocelyne Bourgon, P.C., O.C, President Emeritus, Canada School of Public Service (Canada)

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 Table of contents


Executive Summary


Part I: Focus on Citizens: Public engagement for better policy and services

The first part of the book reviews the benefits, limits, costs and risks of open and inclusive policy making based on comparative information from 25 countries.


Chapter 1.: Why Invest in Open and Inclusive Policy Making?

This chapter describes government goals for, and the benefits of, open and inclusive policy making in  OECD member countries.

Chapter 2.: Open Policy Making: Work in Progress

This chapter reviews the legal basis, costs and risks of openness in policy making.

Chapter 3.: Inclusive Policy Making: The Next Step

This chapter examines government experience in breaking down the barriers to, and increasing the appeal of, participation in policy making for both the “willing but unable” and the “able but unwilling.”

Chapter 4.: Evaluation Improves Performance

This chapter reviews how evaluation of open and inclusive policy making is being used as a tool to improve current and future practice.

Chapter 5.: Leveraging New Technologies and the Participative Web

This chapter reviews initial attempts by government to leverage the participative web and outlines some of the challenges ahead.

Chapter 6.: Principles to Support Practice Sound Principles Can Help Guide Practice

This chapter presents a set of 10 “guiding principles for open and inclusive policy making”.


Part II: Case Studies in Citizen Engagement

This part of the book offers insights based on 14 specific country case studies from OECD countries.

Regional and Urban Development (Australia, Canada, Germany, Norway, United Kingdom)
Local Participatory Budgeting (Korea, Turkey)
National Level Participatory Programmes (Austria, Finland, France, Switzerland)
Building Capacity and Tools for Engagement (New Zealand, Netherlands, United Kingdom)


Part III: Practitioners' Perspectives: Why Now, How and What Next?

The last part of the book offers a wide spectrum of opinions and perspectives offered by 18 people active in government, politics and civil society.

The annexes provide comparative data on laws, policies, institutions and oversight bodies for open government in all 30 OECD countries as well as a glossary, list of civil society respondents and members of the OECD Steering Group on Open and Inclusive Policy making (2007-08).



 Did civil society contribute to this book?


This book features contributions from some of the world’s leading civil society practitioners and draws upon survey responses from over 50 civil society organizations in 14 countries.

Important input was also provided during the Workshop on Building Citizen Centred Policies and Services, held in Ljubljana, Slovenia (26-27 June 2008) which gathered 80 public engagement practitioners from civil society and government in 33 countries to chart the way forward.


Public engagement in practice



Open government is a journey not a destination.  This project benefited from many views and inputs. 


Watch the video from the international workshop, held on 26-27 June 2008 in Ljubljana, and see how youth from all around the world shared their views and priorities online.


 Press material


This publication will be launched in Oslo on 10 June 2009 at a workshop organised by Teknologirådet and the Ministry of Government Administration and Reform (FAD).

Click here for workshop details.



'Building the public services of tomorrow with, for and around customers' (PDF, 22 kB)

Keynote Speech by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, at the 5th Quality Conference for Public Administrations in the EU (Paris, 20/10/08)


French version of speech available here



 What people are saying about this book


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

"'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."'


Irma Pavlinič Krebs, Minister of Public Administration, Republic of Slovenia

"'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."'


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

"'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."' 


 How to obtain this book


Readers can obtain the full version of Focus on Citizens: Public Engagement for Better Policy and Services in several ways:

• Subscribers and readers at subscribing institutions can access the online edition via SourceOECD, our online library.

• Non-subscribers can browse the full text on line and purchase the PDF e-book and/or paper copy via our Online Bookshop.

• Order from your local distributor.

• Government officials with accounts () can go to the "books" tab on OLIS.

• Access by password for accredited journalists.


 Find out more


For more information and publications on public engagement, visit:


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