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Crowdsourcing and regulatory reviews: A new way of challenging red tape in British government?

December 06, 2016 by Martin Lodge, Kai Wegrich

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Much has been said about the appeal of digital government devices to enhance consultation on rulemaking. This paper explores the most ambitious attempt by the UK central government so far to draw on “crowdsourcing” to consult and act on regulatory reform, the “Red Tape Challenge.” We find that the results of this exercise do not represent any major change to traditional challenges to consultation processes. Instead, we suggest that the extensive institutional arrangements for crowdsourcing were hardly significant in informing actual policy responses: neither the tone of the crowdsourced comments, the direction of the majority views, nor specific comments were seen to matter. Instead, it was processes within the executive that shaped the overall governmental responses to this initiative. The findings, therefore, provoke wider debates about the use of social media in rulemaking and consultation exercises.