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Legislation Supporting Citizen Participation

Three resources to help you get a sense of the kinds of legislation that can and do support citizen engagement in governance and decision-making — an NCDD listserv compilation, an amazing article by Lisa Bingham, and a 2003 global compilation by LogoLink.

Legislation about Citizen Participation in the U.S. & Other Nations

NCDD listserv compilation

On August 18, 2010, Tina Nabatchi of Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs asked subscribers of the main NCDD Discussion listserv for “examples of legislation from the US and other nations (at any level of government) that mandates citizen participation.”  This 4-page Word document summarizes the great responses Tina received to her question.  Prepared by Jessica Prue, Syracuse University. Download here.

The Next Generation of Administration Law: Building the Legal Infrastructure for Collaborative Governance

by Lisa Blomgren Bingham, Wisconsin Law Review

Lisa Bingham, Keller-Runden Professor of Public Service at Indiana University, shared her latest review of this issue with the NCDD Discussion list on August 18, 2010. This 60-page article from the Wisconsin Law Review describes the map of statutory administrative law through those cross-cutting statutes that apply generally to all federal agencies.

It argues that each major statute represents a balance among five fundamental values in the relationship between the government and the governed, a balance struck by Congress in a particular historical context and moment in time. These values are accountability, efficiency, transparency, participation, and collaboration.

Second, it surveys the current law and practice of both in-person and technology-aided public participation, including recent developments through the Open Government Initiative, Open Government Dialogue, and Open Government Directive.

Third, it argues that at this moment in history—in light of dramatic technology-driven changes in transparency—we need to reassess the balance among our five fundamental values to foster more participation and collaboration. In order to adjust those values to foster collaborative governance, it proposes to broaden agency authority to innovate through a Collaborative Governance Act (CGA) that defines public participation to include an increasingly rich variety of deliberative and participatory democratic practices. It proposes to model the CGA in structure on the Administrative Dispute Resolution Act by providing for an agency specialist, broad agency discretion to innovate in the use of participatory processes, and encouraging innovation by limiting judicial review.

Lisa gave us permission to post this article on the NCDD website and clarified “there are no copyright issues and people can distribute or copy it as they see fit.” Download here.

Legal Frameworks for Citizen Participation: Synthesis Report

Rosemary McGee, LogoLink, 2003

Which factors contribute to effective citizen participation in local governance? The experience of LogoLink partners and other actors devoted to promoting citizen participation suggests that national and local laws and policies mandating citizen participation are important enabling conditions for participation to ensue. This 84-page LogoLink report synthesizes LogoLink’s research into the legal frameworks and policies around the world that support civic participation as of 2003. Download the PDF here.

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Add a Comment

  1. Sandy Heierbacher Says:

    Here’s another suggestion for the compilation doc, this one from Jim Snider of isolon.org:

    You might want to add Maryland’s mandatory Citizen Advisory Committees. Many of these are required on an ad hoc basis by the Maryland General Assembly. In the case of the county in which I live, the State mandates that the public school system have a citizen advisory committee attached to each school and a countywide citizen advisory committee, of which I am the vice chair. We have an appointed school board and this is supposed to give the parents a greater voice in school policymaking.

    I would also give greater attention to public, education, and government access TV, which probably consumes more dollars than any other form of government mandated public participation. The catch here is that although the federal, state, and local rhetoric about public participation is great, the implementation is awful (e.g., see my essay in the International Journal of Public Participation, “Deterring Fake Public Participation”).

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