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Bringing Citizen Voices to the Table: A Guide for Public Managers

This important 2012 book by Carolyn Lukensmeyer (founder of AmericaSpeaks and now director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse) offers seven field-tested strategies for public managers to help them maximize citizen engagement as they implement the President’s Open Government Directive.

Lukensmeyer’s first book is due out November 10, but you can pre-order your copy now here at Wiley.com or by calling 800-356-5016. Use Promo Code CL252 to save 36% on your order.

The Core Strategies for Citizen Engagement discussed in the book are:

  • Establish Links to Decision-Makers;
  • Ensure Demographic Diversity;
  • Create Opportunities for Informed Participation;
  • Maximize Tools of Facilitated Deliberation;
  • Discover Shared Priorities;
  • Establish Clear Recommendations for Action;
  • and Sustain Citizen Engagement.

The book includes project and leadership case studies from major federal agencies that elucidate the seven strategies in the context of real-world issues and challenges.

Excerpt from pp 11-12 of Chapter 1…


A primary contributing factor to our approach to citizen engagement is that we do not have in place the infrastructure or the systems necessary to support meaningful, ongoing, routine participation. Rather, these systems have to be created each time a jurisdiction wants or needs to bring the public into a decision-making process. For example, in AmericaSpeaks’ work, every time we are brought in to facilitate citizen engagement, we find that the physical spaces needed to accommodate large numbers of people coming together to deliberate have to be set up; the technology needed to capture, distill, and disseminate citizens’ views has to be brought in; and local organizations have to be paid to temporarily shift their work to citizen outreach to ensure representativeness in the process. Repeatedly recreating such an infrastructure is highly inefficient, yet it is what deliberative democracy practitioners in this country must continually do, searching each time for the necessary resources — from philanthropy, government, or both — to support the work and achieve the desired outcomes.

A case in point: to bring thousands of Washington, DC, residents together to deliberate about the municipal budget, and to advise the mayor of their priorities, the city had to pay the convention center exactly the same fee Microsoft had paid the week before for its annual exposition. As much as the convention center director might have wanted to support Mayor Williams’s Citizen Summit by offering free space, given the facility’s business model it was not an option. Similarly, in 2002 nearly $350,000 in philanthropic dollars was spent to house Listening to the City in the Jacob Javits Center, where 4,500 New Yorkers came together to weigh in on the conceptual land-use and architectural plans for rebuilding the World Trade Center site.

These kinds of expenditures on public participation have not always been required. In the 1960s and 1970s, convention center space was routinely made accessible to mayors and other officials for important municipal gatherings. For example, during the rioting that followed Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, Carl Stokes, the first African American mayor of a major Northern city, sought to promote healing and rebuilding in Cleveland, Ohio, through a series of task forces that brought blacks and whites together on key issues. Many of the large organizing meetings of these groups were held in the Cleveland Convention Center at the mayor’s request and at no cost to the city.

Today, without an established infrastructure for democratic deliberation, elected officials and decision makers must spend significant amounts of money and undertake complicated logistical work to engage with, listen to, and learn from citizens. A supporting infrastructure not only would bring citizens closer to their elected officials but also would go a long way toward building greater community identity and capacity for participation.

Chapter Thirteen lays out the specific components of such a supporting infrastructure.

Table of Contents


Opening Quotes

Table of Contents

List of Tables, Figures and Exhibits

Foreword by Alice Rivlin

Author’s Preface

Public Service and the Revitalization of American Democracy

Introduction: The Case for Citizen Engagement

Chapter 1 Citizen Engagement in the U.S.

Chapter 2 AmericaSpeaks and the 21st Century Town Meeting

Chapter 3 Understanding the Power of Citizen Engagement: A Story of Post-Katrina New Orleans

Chapter 4 Citizen Engagement from a Public Manager’s Perspective

Chapter 5 Strategy 1: Know the Context

Public Manager Perspectives: The Light Brown Apple Moth And The Importance Of Knowing The Context
Jane Berkow, U.S. Department Of Agriculture

Chapter 6 Strategy 2: Link to Decision-Makers

Public Manager Perspectives: ?The Public Engagement Project On Pandemic Influenza?
Roger Bernier, Retired, U.S. Centers For Disease Control And Prevention

Chapter 7 Strategy 3: Achieve Diverse Participation

Public Manager Perspectives: Achieving Diverse Public Participation on Civil Rights Policy
An Interview with Therese W. McMillan, U.S. Department Of Transportation

Chapter 8 Strategy 4: Create Safe Public Spaces

Public Manager Perspectives: Building Capacity To Facilitate Public Dialogue
Deborah Dalton, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Chapter 9 Strategy 4: Inform Participants

Public Manager Perspectives: Be Fair, Be Open, Be Honest: Principles For Informing The Public And Regaining Their Trust?
Tony Faast, Retired, U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service

Chapter 10 Strategy 6: Discover Shared Priorities

Public Manager Perspectives: The Mountain Pine Beetle Coalition
Richard Stem, Retired, U.S. Forest Service

Chapter 11 Strategy 7: Sustain Citizens Engagement

Public Manager Perspectives: Recrafting Advisory Councils to Build and Sustain Citizen Engagement
Bruce Gilbert, Rural Secretariat, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador (Canada)

Chapter 12 Using Online Tools to Support Citizen Engagement

Chapter 13 The Infrastructure Needs in a Democracy

Epilogue: Who Is Responsible For Our Nation’s Democracy? We All Are!




Author’s Biography

Appendix A: Biographies of Public Managers with Case Studies in this Book

Appendix B: Organizations Practicing in the Field of Deliberative Democracy in the U.S.

Appendix C: AmericaSpeaks Projects by Subject Area

Appendix D: Convening Leading Practitioners and Scholars

Resource Link: www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118230876,descCd-tableOfContents.html

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