A Consultation Checklist: The Who, What, When, Where, Why And How Of Consultation

An important step in the policy development process is deciding on the best approach to consultation. When it comes to consultation, there is not a one size fits all circumstances. Consultation has to be tailored to meet: the time frames, resource availability and nature of the policy issue(s) at hand.

Who? Determining who needs to be consulted: other departments, one's minister, other ministers, other levels of government, other jurisdictions, committees of Cabinet, various external client/stakeholder groups, general public?
What ? What should be the subject matter of the consultation? Whether to consult on issue identification, the range of options, the preferred options, the assumptions, the principles, the outcomes, etc.?
When? Determining the timing of consultations and when you have consulted enough – i.e., when to end the consultations. Should it take place during the preliminary information gathering stage when you are trying to get a handle on the nature of the problem? Should one wait until there is some internal coalescing around the principles and expected outcomes that will guide the process? Should it be at each step in the process? Should some individuals/groups be consulted at some stages in the process and others consulted at other phases of the policy development process?
Where? Where • At which location(s) should consultation take place? Is it more appropriate to consult some individuals/groups at certain locations and other individuals/groups at different venues?
Why? Why does a particular individual, department or group need to be consulted? What type of exchange is one hoping to have with each person/group? Is the purpose of the consultation to gather information, to obtain feedback/reaction? Is it that through the consultation there is also the aim of disseminating information? Answering why makes you aware of what you want to get out of the consultation and helps shape the "how" and "where" of consultation.
How? Determining the best methods for consultation. Should one hold workshops, round table discussions, public meetings? Should the internet be used to disseminate information on the policy review and as a way to solicit feedback? Should a discussion paper be released? Should sub-groupings of clients/stakeholders be brought together for consultations? Cost is often a consideration in such choices and decision. See

Source: Office of the Auditor General , Government of Manitoba, A Guide To Policy Development, 2003