The term “public consultation” generally refers to a range of methods for consulting citizens on public policy issues. Advanced forms of public consultation, though, give citizens interactive tools to help them really understand policy issues so that they can effectively express their values and priorities in relation to specific policy choices.
Citizens go through a step-by-step process that simulates the process that policymakers go through in coming to policy decisions. This includes getting briefed on the issue, weighing pro and con arguments for various policy options, and then coming to their decisions. These decisions may involve choosing from a menu of options or undertaking a task, like making up a budget, that requires making tradeoffs.
After going through this process, citizens can share what they’ve learned with their elected representatives in a way that is targeted and effective.