Bridging the Gap between Officials and the Public in Engagement
The Deliberative Democracy Consortium has released a new report: Bridging the Gap between Public Officials and the Public. It looks at how legislators view public engagement and public deliberation:
In these new materials, we ask whether public deliberation projects can create the kind of communication legislators say they want with their constituents. Finally, we provide a set of recommendations for public officials, funders, and the field of public engagement.
The report highlights five critical considerations:
1. Lawmakers want to know who organizes the deliberation and how the event is structured. They overwhelmingly indicated that it would be important for the organizers, conveners, and moderators to be neutral, balanced, and non-partisan, and to be perceived as having these qualities.
2. All of the interviewees indicated that it would be important to ensure that participants in such processes are demographically, politically, and ideologically diverse.
3. The majority of lawmakers were interested in seeing evidence that public deliberations are civil, informed, and take account of the complexities of the policy issue under discussion.
4. Lawmakers were curious about the likely impacts of deliberation on participants, particularly in terms of trust in government, learning, understanding the complexities of issues, openness to different perspectives, and increased political engagement.
5. Some lawmakers wanted to know how public deliberation might influence the policymaking process, and were interested in evidence demonstrating the public’s willingness to confront and address tough choices and tradeoffs. Information showing that all perspectives were considered, and that new, politically viable and attainable options or ideas were generated would be welcomed.
Based on these findings, it offers our broad recommendations intended to help advance the use of public deliberation as a governance tool.
You can download a free copy of the report and accompanying slideshow here.