Tuesday, February 10, 2009

UK government's HM Revenue & Customs service now collecting opinions online alongside tax

The UK government's HM Revenue & Customs service (roughly equivalent to the ATO) has launched an online consultation site seeking public input into its proposed charter.

Named Have your say the site asks citizens to answer questions around the proposed charter and provide their views of what it contains and should contain.

It's a fairly basic consultation process that could be supported through many survey tools, however it is equally very powerful in inviting citizens to directly comment on policy before it becomes enshrined in law.

Over in the US the new President has also instituted a mandatory public review stage for most legislation, making it available online for public scrutiny and comment before it is considered by the Senate.

These steps represent the scope of the shift the internet can provide democracies, taking representative democracy back to the people via direct policy consultation.

Naturally not all citizens choose to comment, however the process can add an additional level of realism to government legislation, ensuring a higher consultation bar than has been possible using paper-based communications tools.

I'm looking forward to posting about the first Australian initiative of this type - so if anyone know of one, please drop me a line.

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