Legal Frameworks for Public Engagement?

The National Civic League is working with other national associations to draft model policies, resolutions, and ordinances on public engagement and democratic governance. As part of this effort, NCL is soliciting examples of innovative legal documents or language being used to structure and guide public participation. Please submit your example to by July 1, 2012.

This work responds to a significant challenge many cities face. Innovative practices for public engagement, including online tools and apps, have grown dramatically in recent years. Traditional legal frameworks for citizen participation were developed before these new avenues were available. To respond effectively to citizens in the twenty first century and to address pressing fiscal, social, and political issues, cities need laws and policies that reflect what is working for cities today.  Effective public engagement includes various elements:

  • Recruiting a diverse, inclusive group of community residents ;
  • Involving community residents through both online and face-to-face venues;
  •  Providing participants opportunities to consider a range of views and policy options about a public issue; and
  •  Designing and implementing public engagement that produces tangible recommendations, actions and outcomes.

We need your help in finding sample policies, procedures, resolutions, or ordinances on public participation and engagement.

Can you share examples of local governments that have revised or adopted policies, procedures, resolutions or ordinances to enable greater or more innovative public engagement in local governance?

  1. Have you seen policies, procedures, resolutions, or ordinances that address alternative formats for public meetings?
  2. Can you share policies, procedures, resolutions, or ordinances that address that the use of social media or online technologies to generate and consider policy alternatives?
  3. Are you aware of policies, procedures, resolutions, or ordinances that address the definitions of “public” and “participation” or standards for quality public participation engagement?
  4. Are there state statutes or laws that represent a barrier or obstacle to innovation in public engagement? If so, what are they? Have you encountered an obstacle or barrier based on state law?
  5. Are there issues for public engagement arising out of state Freedom of Information, Public Meetings, or Sunshine Acts? If so, what are they?
  6. Please share any other information or examples you think are relevant to our effort.

Please send information or examples to

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