The Ministry of Public Input Research Blue MPI logo

Winner of the 2015 IAP2 Australasia Research Award which acknowledges important
contributions to the body of public participation knowledge.



Core recommendations for practice: Designing good public input/consultation processes

  1. Include politicians/decision makers
  2. Have a politician as a champion get behind the public input process
  3. Devote resources to processing the input not just having the consultation than ignoring it. Resources are needed to do something with the data/input
  4. Be open about what is on/off the table
  5. Use deliberative methods (information, constructive)
  6. Take into account realities of government/be realistic – not just a wish list
  7. Ask for solutions and constructive suggestions – not  just what the problem is
  8. Ask for options, a range of ideas, not just one option which politicians may not be able to go with
  9. Include informal conversations and interactions
  10. Get people with different perspectives and views in the same room
  11. Publish all material as you go along.
  12. Respond to public input even if it’s no, but explaining why.


book cover corrected finalThis project found that as political leaders acknowledge the limits of their power and knowledge, they seek a diverse range of public input into government, but this raises profound practical and democratic questions as to how we ensure that public input is collected and processed appropriately and what political leaders are supposed to do with that public input. Through interviews with government ministers and practitioners this research shows how politicians are becoming deliberative political leaders; integrating constructive input from inside and outside government into their decision-making. It also argues that we need to develop a permanent government unit to collect, process and communicate ongoing public input such as a Ministry or Commission of Public Input. By improving public input systems; acknowledging the limits of their own power and knowledge; and devolving solution-finding to others, politicians achieve change that lasts beyond their time in power. Public input is not irreconcilable with political leadership; it is essential to it. The book The Ministry of Public Input was published in February 2015 by Palgrave Macmillan


 Comments on the book

  • ”An ambitious work – a novel study which breaks important new ground’
  • ‘A careful and interesting analysis of the different stages of collecting public opinion on policy and converting it into the policy process; a thoughtful and judicious analysis of the different literatures: leadership, policy-making deliberative democracy, marketing.’ (reader report)
  • ‘It is not only the combination of data sources that provides interesting results. The research approach used to analyse the data also contributes to this…The result is an extensive overview of best practices, frequently supported by examples from the five countries. This makes the book a pleasant and accessible read to a broader audience than scholars alone…The hypotheses formulated throughout the book – which are useful input for further research – and the concluding recommendations seem to emerge from the data in a logical way….Lees-Marshment has done a great job in providing more understanding of the mechanisms behind the integration of public input…important answers are delivered’ (book review, Public Administration 94(1): 280-282)
  • ‘This is a very timely and important contribution to the increasingly urgent debate regarding the revitalisation of democracy. The author demonstrates the all-too-rare academic leadership that not only provides a powerful bridge between theory and practice but also navigates the frustrating divides that mysteriously persist between the fields of political theory, public administration, political leadership and political marketing. Jennifer Lees-Marshment gets my vote to become the world’s first Minister of Public Input!’ (Endorsement from  Professor Brad Jackson, Head of School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand)Comments on the report
  • ‘A stimulating contribution to the on-going debate about how communication between government and the governed (and vice versa), can be improved’ (Lord Tom McNally, UK)
    ‘I think the idea of a Ministry of Public Input, to work across Government, is worth considering. In theory each agency should be doing this anyway, but Jennifer proposes an all-of-Government approach’ (David Farrar, NZ National Party pollster and blogger)

Comments on presentations

  • ‘The best idea yet to have increase engagement with the community in New Zealand. Create the Ministry of Public Input!’ (FB tagline from report by Public Voice ‘Do we need another government department? – The Ministry for Public Input)
    ‘At a public lecture hosted by the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies at Victoria University this afternoon we heard the case that we really need this Ministry of Public Input and she really did sell her point well that the whole lecture theatre was convinced that our current system does not work and needs an overhaul…One of the beneifts of a Ministry of Public Input is the ability for the ministry to be able to handle consultations without any bias and are able to present information clearly to government departments without interference…A Ministry of Public Input would be a clear division between the public and the issue at hand whilst allowing for a clean debate with good reasonable data that a minister can make a decision from. We loved our day out of the office learning about the potential for a better way to increase public engagement with our elected officials and hope to see more people take part. Without a doubt, this research is onto it and is a game changer which we hope could see this academic be the new CEO of the Ministry of Public Input one day.’ (report by Public Voice ‘Our work trip to The Ministry for Public Input’)