Call for submissions

$0 to $1k
estimated cost of external help
  • Prioritise options
  • Confirm options
  • Consult
6-8 weeks
estimated run time
0-2 weeks
estimated lead time
Strong communicator
recommended experience
A request made for feedback on a specific document, typically a discussion paper or recommendation report. The call is usually put out to a specific group of key stakeholders, in addition to being made publicly available for comment. The public aspect of the process is often supported by an online portal.

For larger projects, the call for submissions may also be advertised in newspapers or by other means to get attention. Some types of changes have specific requirements as to where these notices must be published. For example, a new building permission may require notification of the planned works and a call for submissions to oppose to be posted at the site and in local newspapers over a period of weeks.

In 5 steps...

  1. Publish the document you would like feedback on online, or email it to those who are expecting it or have requested it.
  2. Advertise the call for submissions as required/desirable.
  3. Receive, review and, if appropriate, publish responses.
  4. Record the names of respondents and the number of responses for the final report.
  5. Review each response for critical changes, risks and general themes in order to provide feedback and input for decision-makers.

When to use it

A call for submissions is a consultative method. It is used to confirm that you have correctly understood the issues that a decision will be based on, or to determine the adequacy of, and sentiment regarding, a proposed solution.

Because there is very limited interaction and the publishing of submissions can be controlled, this technique is low-risk and as a result is the most common technique used by governments around the world in decision-making. However, it does not invite new ideas, expand the frame of possibility, or enable representation in response. This means it is not useful for understanding the political context or exploring options.


  • Quick feedback.
  • Detailed responses to specific documents.
  • Fast input for decision-making.
  • Lends the voices of key stakeholders to the decision-making process.
  • Lends some transparency to the decision-making process.
  • May raise key risks that have not yet been addressed in the decision documents.
Long term
  • Improved reception of the final output.
  • Better relationships between the project team and key stakeholders.


  • Submissions may not be in a standard format, and the effort to understand what is of importance in them may be time-consuming and difficult.
  • A select response may mean some critical risks are not adequately identified in the process.
  • Responders representing the interests of citizens may not be in touch with the real issues faced by people who might be affected by the decision.



  • Consider formatting your document so it includes the questions you would like responders to address, to reduce the time spent analysing responses.
  • Determine how many responses you need to receive to feel that the risks are well identified. Also, make a list of any key parties you need to ensure receive notice of the submission.
  • Consider running another technique, such as surveys, from the same platform to enable participants with differing levels of agency to contribute. Members of the public are likely to shy away from making a formal response to a long and detailed document, not understanding what format of response would be appropriate.

During the process

  • Issue reminders to key stakeholders when closing times are approaching, to ensure all key stakeholders have a chance to contribute.


  • Be sure to accompany any final report to respondents with a note as to how their submission, or the collective submissions, impacted the outcomes.

Also see: