Do you that public participation can help government’s be more accountable and responsive, and can also improve the public’s perception of government performance? Traditionally, public participation meant voting, running for office, being involved in political campaigns, attending public hearings and keeping informed on important issues of the day by reading government reports or the local newspapers. At an increased level of involvement, the public, acting as individuals and in groups, advocated specific policies by attending public meetings, lobbying government officials or bringing media attention to policy issues. More recently, good governments have used new forms of public involvement surveys, focus groups, neighborhood councils and others as inputs to decisions about service levels, community priorities and organizational performance.
Don’t you think that involving the public in budgetary and decision making will really improve performance by better understanding what the public wants and expects from its government; adjust services and service levels more closely to citizens preferences; differentiate among the expectations of a jurisdiction’s various demographic groups in policy and service design; facilitate understanding of public priorities in planning and budgeting; as well as provide information to the public about government services and results?
Do you know that citizen viewpoints differ those of government’s insiders, and even from citizen to citizen? No single citizen or group of citizens, by they elected or appointed, can represent the views of all. It has even been claimed that public opinion has the ability to change the course of history and overcome frustrations around the lengthy timetables required to implement reforms! If so, how do today’s public leaders use public opinion to achieve their public policy objectives? Do they trust the public, at all?