Public Deliberation: A Manager’s Guide to Citizen Engagement
On behalf of the ibM Center for the business of Government, we are pleased to present this report,
“Public Deliberation: A Manager’s Guide to Citizen Engagement” by Carolyn J. lukensmeyer and lars
Individuals, groups, and non-governmental institutions have a growing need for information that allows
them to make more informed choices in their personal lives as citizens, such as retirement planning options.
there is also a need for them to engage in solving major public challenges, such as dealing with the community
impacts of the base Realignment Commission. in addition, citizens need to have opportunities to
monitor governmental performance, such as the british approach to reporting the performance and progress
of their society.
Traditional approaches to citizen engagement have been one-way, for example, citizen testimony at hearings.
but in recent years, other approaches have evolved that foster an active, two-way dialogue between
citizens and government. one early approach, in the 1990s, was oregon Governor barbara Roberts’ town
hall meetings across the state to craft a statewide plan for the future. this type of dialogue has been extended
to many other forums: citizens in new York deciding the fate of the site of the 9/11 terrorist attack, citizens
in the District of Columbia involved in setting priorities for their community, and citizens in Florida engaged
in the restoration of the Everglades, among many other examples. when implemented effectively, the use of
meaningful dialogue has led to greater community consensus around results, oftentimes speeding actions
because there are fewer efforts to use legal proceedings to stymie initiatives.
There are new and exciting opportunities to engage citizens by informing, consulting, involving, and collaborating
with them through a number of techniques; for example, the use of online surveys and peer-to-peer
communication tools such as blogs and wikis. Many of these are now being piloted and used by states,
localities, and nonprofits. there is also an increased interest by federal agencies. but the challenge of reaching
those who don’t already participate as activists or interest group members remains.
This report documents a spectrum of tools and techniques developed largely in the nonprofit world in
recent years to increase citizens’ involvement in their communities and government. it also highlights ways
in which public managers can develop an active approach to increasing citizens’ involvement in government
at all levels. we trust that this report will be useful and informative to managers across the nation
seeking new, innovative ways to engage citizens.
By: Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer
Lars Hasselblad Torres
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