Thursday, 18 October 2007

New LAC Consultation Processes

Michelle Doucet, Library and Archives Canada's Director General for Services, was keen to discuss consultation when we met last Friday. It was encouraging to hear a commitment to consultation prior to implementing any major changes to services. Effective mechanisms so that clients can raise and get attention paid to issues are also needed.

LAC is proposing a two-component mechanism:
- LAC services advisory board
- general client consultation

As mentioned previously, and posted here, the advisory board, to be chaired by the Assistant Deputy Minister, Programs and Services, will include 12-15 people with national scope and a mix of perspectives. It will meet 3-4 times a year using telephone/video conferencing for those unable to be at the meeting in person. An agenda of topics for discussion will be established before each meeting (which should not inhibit other topics being raised in a round table agenda item), and all minutes will be posted publicly.

As regards general client consultation a "multi-channel approach" is being considered. One element, regular on-site public consultation meetings, every 6-8 weeks, seems likely to be implemented. Other possibilities still under discussion are virtual, email, chat, Web 2.0 and similar mechanisms, together with things like client satisfaction and feedback forms distributed with mailings of materials to clients.

How will we know if the consultation is effective? There is always danger in government of mistaking existence of a process for effectiveness. If you hold a consultation session and nobody comes does it mean everyone is happy, or do people see it as a waste of time as it never seems to achieve anything?

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