A Scorecard for Public Engagement

by: Rod Gould, ICMA-CM

If you’re a local-government manager or elected official, by now you’ve probably heard a fair amount about the need for better citizen engagement in government decision-making. You may even have your own success stories about times your city or agency made a special effort to involve community members in policies that affect them. And you may also have been scalded when your agency failed to properly engage residents. It probably wasn’t pretty.

You likely have a few ideas of your own about what is appreciated and works with stakeholders and what simply wastes everyone’s time. As your agency takes steps to strengthen its involvement with residents and businesses, do you know how you measure up compared to other agencies?

There are many reasons to give your public engagement strategies and techniques some serious scrutiny: bolstering local representative democracy, improving governmental decision-making, repairing damaged public relations, increasing civility and trust in government, enhancing public support of important civic decisions — or just making your work more pleasant and satisfying.

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