Monday, January 26, 2009

THe government consultation

I just submitted my response - thank you for the feedback on the draft! It was number 523.

And for my next trick, I intend to complain about the consultation process.

This is what I have in mind to complain about - additions and suggestions very welcome:

These are the areas I am ready to complain about, and would be delighted to add more to the list before I write my Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells letter.

1) The short time lapsed between the CME consultation and this one. There has scarcely been time for LAs and indeed members of the public to read and assimilate the new CME guidance let alone find out how it meshes in practical and legal terms with the previous 2007 EHE guidelines and we are asked, yet again, to enter into a consultation process in the area of EHE.

2) The lack of an open process of consultation. The DCSF should have made it publically known at the outset exactly what the purpose of this latest consultation is. They should be equally engaging with all stake holders (and a 6-question questionnaire for the public compared to a 60-question one for LAs is hardly even handed, plus the fact that many of the questions for the LAs are not based in law [can anyone link me to someone else's analysis of just what is so wrong with the LA questionnaire?]). The full mechanics of the consultation process should be openly available and they are not. What is the purpose of the 6-question questionnaire? Who will it be used by and to what purpose?

3) the answers to the 6-question questionnaire will have to be assessed qualitatively rather than quantitatively. In questions 1, 4 and 5, respondents are asked whether they think the "current system" is adequate to various purposes. If one takes "the current system" to mean "the current legal position", one might well answer "YES, the system is adequate, although application of that system by LAs is woefully inadequate". If one takes "the current system" to mean "the current procedures and practices of LAs with regard to EHE", one might, from exactly the same viewpoint, answer "NO, the current system is terribly inadequate because many LAs seem to have practices and procedures in place which are directly counter to the law". Someone with less confidence in their ability to double-guess what the drafter of the questionnaire had in mind when they used the ambiguous terminology will asnwer "don't know" or "no response". This means that all responses to these questions must be carefully analysed to establish what the respondent took the drafter to mean by "the current system" and any attempt to quantitatively analyse the data will be fatally flawed.

4) Why does the public EHER consultation last only four weeks (rather
than the standard 12)?

5) Why does the public EHER consultation only invite online responses, thusd disenfranchising any stakeholders without internet access?

6) Why has the code of practice been broken in terms of alerting stakeholders to the process and fully engaging them in it?

7) Why are LAs invited to respond to a different consultation from the
public? and how is the report going to ensure appropriate weight is given to
answers to both sets of questions?

8) why are the questions phrased in loaded ways whcih imply that duties and responsibilities for LAs are in place which are in fact not present in the current legal framework? (this applies both to the 6-question and 60-question versions of the questionnaire)

9) why is there an assurance in the LA questionnaire that responses will be treated confidentially? How is this in line with the freedom of information act, let alone principles of open government?

10) Is this an appropriate use of taxpayers' money?

The DCSF address is but there is also

A relevant contact is Martin Dannhauser on 020 7215 0824.

for the external complaints lot.

What else should one put in a complaint to the DCSF at this point? My point 3 is the one which has been interfering with my ability to sleep. They absolutely must not be allowed to get away with any sleight of hand as far as their ambiguous terminology goes.


Jem Dowse said...

I will be contacting Mr Dannhauser at the BERR myself. Please relate any response you get!

Leo said...

Did you have to put your real name and address to reply?

emma said...

Real name, but I just gave a yahoo email address so I am not easily traceable. You don't have to give a mailing address.

Leo said...

That would give me away enough.


Leo said...

Could you urgently reply to my PM on Facebook?