Peer Production of Public Policy

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Peer production of public policy is the idea that government policies can be produced in a more open and public manner that is more inclusive of the knowledge and opinions of those affected by the policy.

Definition of Public Policy

Taken from Wikipedia on 5/23/09 URL=

Public policy can be generally defined as the course of action or inaction taken by governmental entities with regard to a particular issue or set of issues. Other scholars define it as a system of "courses of action, regulatory measures, laws, and funding priorities concerning a given topic promulgated by a governmental entity or its representatives."[2] Public policy is commonly embodied "in constitutions, legislative acts, and judicial decisions."

How Public Policy May Be Peer Produced

The production of public policy has many components. Any single component may be made more open and inclusive, taking advantage of the potential benefits of peer production.

The components of public policy production are (roughly):

  • Definition of goals, principles
  • Background research
  • Determining the "course of action"
  • Drafting policy documents, related artifacts
  • Passing policy into law
  • Implementing policy through institutions
  • Analysis of policy effectiveness, post-implementation

Collaborative Design and Writing of Public Policy

  • Many initiatives seek to peer produce policy using online collaborative writing tools. Participants may be asked to submit ideas to a website, or to edit the documentation directly using a wiki.
  • Some initiatives are run by government agencies. In these cases, participation is usually carefully circumscribed by those agencies. Citizens are invited to comment or edit for a given period, but "final say" remains with government officials.
  • Some initiatives engage in peer production of policy from the start, allowing participants to define scope and structure. These initiatives may have difficulty creating a proposal that interfaces with established modes of policy production, and winning buy-in from officials.
  • One benefit of this mode of production is that the group that produced the policy may also support its passage into law and its effective implementation.

Implementations of this process

  • Future Melbourne Community Plan: The city of Melbourne, Australia invited citizen participation in the formation of their city plan using a moderated wiki.
  • Open Legislation in Italy: Two senators of the Italian Democratic party, Vincenzo Vita and Luigi Vimercati, wrote a policy proposal defending Net Neutrality and promoting non proprietary formats and software in public administrations and Universities. They put the whole text online in a public wiki, soliciting comments.
  • Netroots Nation Platform: Attendees of the 2008 Netroots Nation Conference drafted a proposal for a progressive platform to be adopted by candidates in the 2008 U.S. elections. They used MixedInk, a collaborative writing tool.
  • Canadian Policy Wiki: The Globe and Mail's policy wiki is mainly focused on analysis of existing policy, but also invites users to make policy suggestions.

Methods for this process


I did not write this page, but forgot to take down the name of the source, apologies to the author!