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Earning Trust in Public Institutions


We recently read an interesting post on the inCommon blog run by our partners at the Davenport Institute – an NCDD organizational member – about trust’s relationship to engagement. You can read the post below or find the original here, and we also recommend you take a look at the study on trust the post refers to.

The Rand Europe Spotlight on 2013 is a bit broad, but the theme, “Building Trust in Policymaking,” is certainly relevant to civic engagement:

The relationship between citizens and public bodies relies on trust: we trust them to make good decisions on our behalf and implement them well. But public faith has been severely shaken in recent years. A global barometer of trust in institutions found that only 48 percent of people trust governments to do what is right, and that only 16 percent trust them a great deal…

The projects featured this year highlight three different ways in which policymakers can gain trust:

  • Working across boundaries to anticipate new strategic challenges.
  • Using robust methodologies to ensure that policy is grounded in sound evidence.
  • Providing effective, adaptive local delivery. (3)

Two sections are especially relevant to public servants in local government. One is “Grounding Policy in Evidence”:

Tight budgets, rising expectations and greater focus on accountability all add to the pressure on policymakers to show that their decisions are informed by sound evidence – whilst also addressing local needs, values and agendas.

But what constitutes evidence? While the tide of information increases daily, public [skepticism] of official figures is also high. Timeliness, relevance and data integrity are essential to build trust and refute the old charge of: ‘Lies, damned lies and statistics.’ (15)

The other is “Earning Trust at Delivery”:

At an individual or community level, all policy is personal. Whether policies are delivered directly by central government or local authorities, or through private or third-sector providers, good relationships are essential. Trust is created by getting the details right for successful local implementation. (23)

You can download the e-book at the Rand website here.

You can find the original version of this post at www.publicpolicy.pepperdine.edu/davenport-institute/incommon/index.php/2014/02/europe-spotlight-trust.

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Roshan Bliss
An inclusiveness trainer and group process facilitator, Roshan Bliss serves as NCDD's Youth Engagement Coordinator and Blog Curator. Combining his belief that decisions are better when everyone is involved with his passion for empowering young people, his work focuses on increasing the involvement of youth and students in public conversations.

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