The Government could be making more use of digital channels to provide better services while also making cost savings by embedding digital in civil service culture, according to a new report published by Econsultancy this week.

Entitled Digital Engagement in the Public Sector, the report suggests greater use of “crowd-sourcing” initiatives to engage people more in policy and service design.

The research, written by independent Government adviser Tom Raggett and the most comprehensive report available on this topic, is based on a series of interviews with the directors of communications of 20 major Government departments.

The research makes six key recommendations, covering elements of organisational policy and structure, how to deal with new communications channels and ways of working more effectively.

The report states that many areas of Government have made excellent progress using their own websites and social media channels such as Twitter and YouTube to broadcast information.

But, according to Raggett: “Fewer Departments are systematically moving to the conversation stage, although there are some examples of good participative engagement. Most digital engagement is still reactive to events and requests rather than proactive. To some extent this represents a lack of awareness of digital engagement options and a reluctance to use them sufficiently early in policy and communications planning.”

He added: “Econsultancy’s research has found that Government Departments have made great strides in dealing with the breadth of digital engagement options available to them. It is clear that there is an appetite for greater and enhanced use of digital engagement.”

The report says that savings might be possible through the enhanced use of digital for front line services. As an example, university applications are now online-only.

Raggett added: “A number of Departments believe that they can save money by doing engagement and consultation online. One risk here is that the volume of responses and time taken to consider and respond to them could negate any benefits in putting the consultation online in the first place.

“Others see digital engagement as a way of reaching very specific stakeholder groups in a targeted way and thus reduce costs compared with broadcast messages. An example might be the GCHQ advertising campaign for new applicants on electronic billboards in computer games based on stealth and ingenuity.”

Who should read this report?

This report should be of interest to both the public and private sectors. It is aimed at Departmental leadership, communicators, marketers, service delivery heads and those interested in the current picture of digital engagement in the public sector.

Report URL: http://econsultancy.com/uk/reports/digital-engagement-in-the-public-sector

Journalists and bloggers: Please contact Econsultancy for more information about this report.

Media contact: Tom Raggett

(e: tom.raggett AT trcuk.com, t: +44 (0) 7970 161019)

Jake Hird, Senior Research Analyst, Econsultancy

(e: jake.hird AT econsultancy.com t: + 44 (0) 207 269 1467)

About Econsultancy

Econsultancy is a digital publishing and training group that is used by more than 200,000 internet professionals every month.

The company publishes practical and time-saving research to help marketers make better decisions about the digital environment, build business cases, find the best suppliers, look smart in meetings and accelerate their careers.

Econsultancy has offices in New York and London, and hosts more than 100 events every year in the US and UK. Many of the world's most famous brands use Econsultancy to educate and train their staff.

Call us to find out more on +44 (0)20 7269 1450 (London) or +1 212 699 3626 (New York). You can also contact us online.

About the author

Tom Raggett (tom.raggett@trcuk.com) has been a trusted advisor to the public and private sector for sixteen years.

His focus is on delivering large change programmes, often enabled by technology. This involves developing strategy, scoping, planning, successfully implementing and, most importantly, realising the benefits.

Tom helps organisations find practical insights and helps them make more informed decisions.

Tom has substantial networks at the highest levels across the public and private sectors. He works predominantly at the interface between these sectors and as a bridge between providers and users of technology.

Published on: 3:10PM on 7th September 2010