Chapter 14: The implementation of e-participation platforms in Ireland: The case of OpenConsult
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This chapter explores how e-participation is administered in Irish local government by discussing the role of the OpenConsult platform developed by the research organization CiviQ. The portal was introduced into local authorities as a pilot in 2014 to support engagement in online consultation processes and make them more transparent. In this case e-participation is interpreted as an important concept of e-governance. E-participation approaches have emerged in Ireland following an extension of the reforms that characterized the national e-government agenda. In comparison with e-government projects, however, e-participation initiatives have generally lagged behind in their application. The experience of using OpenConsult for public consultations is a positive one and the portal is gradually gaining traction in local authority e-participation projects. For Irish public administration, it is an innovative example of how technological solutions can facilitate the challenges public servants encounter in meeting the statutory requirements for running cost effective consultations. Although e-participation is largely grafted onto existing institutional routines, the establishment of OpenConsult offers the potential to foster public value by promoting a methodology of openness and an equality of influence to co-produce new information for inclusion in policy decisions.

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