I’m the first to admit that summarising submissions is not glamorous work … but it is an essential element of consultation. When submitters can see their views are included in the feedback to councillors, and that they are being taken seriously, they will have more confidence that it is worthwhile going to the effort of making a submission.

Writing a submission summary and deliberations report is a mix of detailed work and big picture thinking, and this mix has become even clearer to me during the process of noting down the steps I took when doing this type of work for a client. 

Making these kinds of notes is a great way to keep a record of what you do, so that you don’t need to reinvent the process next time you do a particular type of work. These notes will also give you useful information on how long a task or project takes, which is helpful when planning similar projects in future. 

You may also find that you make improvements to your process as a result of the ‘observer effect’. There are a few different definitions for this effect, but the guts of it is that by watching what you are doing, you change what happens. 

As a result of watching my own submission summarising and reporting process, I made a small change that has made a big difference to the speed at which I can look at all the submissions on a particular topic, in order to sum up the views expressed in those submissions. This system is ideal for consultations on a proposal or a plan in accordance with the Local Government Act (as opposed to the Resource Management Act). 

I have prepared a guide outlining this process. It has been written for anyone working on a submission summary and deliberations report for the first time, but may also be useful to council staff with previous experience.

Access my guide to summarising and reporting on submissions.