Dear #OpenGov Evaluators,
Yes, it's been awhile since last we talked. But I've waiting for
the ripest time.
There seems to be a lack of consensus on "what works"
with respect to Open Government (i.e., transparency, participation,
collaboration). So perhaps we can move things along by seeing if we
can agree, at least, on what does not
Therefore, I offer, for your consideration, these
(see below) developed by Doug Sarno
former Executive Director of IAP2 (International Association for Public
Participation). I noticed that, in large part, they are the
of the IAP2's "Core Values of Public
I'd like to know if you agree with them (or would word them
differently?). Does one strike you as more obvious than the others
(because of a personal experience you've had)?
My favorite (i.e., most frequent sin) is #6: The Public Is Not
(i.e., "the public does not have the
necessary understanding to provide meaningful input to the
decision"). In other words, it's not clear what is happening,
so the public is prevented from participating.
Steve Buckley, moderator
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P.S. Full disclosure: I was working for Doug when I set
up the very first web-forum used by a U.S.
to collect public comments on a federal
Seven Common Sins That Lead to Public Participation Failure
1. Lack of Commitment.
All levels of the organization must be committed to gaining
and using public input at the appropriate level. Commitment by public
participation staff without the commensurate commitment of managers,
technical staff, and decision makers often results in a public that is
over-promised as to their potential influence.
2. The Checklist Approach.
Approaches that dictate specific meetings and activities
often bypass the important steps of defining the purpose and promise of
participation and can prevent agencies from appreciating the potential
value of public participation.
3. Public Participation Starts Too Late.
When the public is not provided the opportunity for input
until a proposed decision is developed, it is generally understood that
little opportunity for meaningful public impact exists and public events
simply become gripe sessions at best. Public input into decision
criteria and alternatives are
the most effective places to ensure public influence and satisfaction
4. Public Participation Is Not Integrated Into
When public participation is conducted parallel to, rather
than as part of, decision making, the public does not receive the
information it needs in time to provide meaningful input. Public
input is largely reflected as complaints and hardened positions and
decision makers rarely receive public input in time to truly influence
5. Not All Stakeholder Voices are Heard.
Without the full engagement of a broad cross-section of the
community, the public participation process may recognize only some of
the stakeholder values and interests that are important to making
decisions, and often hear from only the loudest and most extreme
6. The Public Is Not Adequately Informed.
Without a great deal of attention and effort toward
comprehensive and transparent public information, the public does not
have the necessary understanding to provide meaningful input to the
7. The Public Receives Inadequate Feedback.
Without timely and specific feedback about how its input was
used, the public does not understand how its concerns were taken into
consideration and how its input influence decision-making.
All Materials © Forum Facilitation Group 2014
Contact Doug Sarno, President, do...@forumfg.com