promotes active citizen engagement in the nationallegislative process.
shows the progressthat has been made using this forum for citizens to discusslegislative proposals. The Brazilian House ofRepresentatives recently launched the e-Democraciaproject to engage citizens in the legislative process.
E-participatory Lawmaking in Brazil
looks at theapproach Brazil is taking to open the debate on law-making. Elsewhere in that country, participatory budgetingallows citizens to influence budget allocations made bytheir government and has a big impact on the lives ofcitizens.
Brazil and Argentina: From Participatory Budgeting to e-Participatory Budgeting
examineswhether this experiment can live up to expectations. Backin the United States, the Pew internet and American LifeProject reports that the
Well-off and Well-educated AreMore Likely to Engage
with the government online—andoff.Attempts to bring citizens into policy-making are commonon the local level, but federal and state agencies also aresoliciting public participation in policy development. WhenFairfax County, Virginia, faced a revenue shortfall of$650,000 million for fiscal year 2010, the county turned to itscitizens for help. Through face-to-face meetings, anextensive media campaign and outreach program, and useof social media,
Public Engagement in FairfaxCounty’s FY 2010 Budget
helped create a budget thatwas acceptable to the community. In
Citizen Engagementand E-Government
, Oakland County, Michigan’s PhilBertolini provides real-world examples of how e-government and Web 2.0 functionality enable, support ,anddeepen citizen engagement at the local level.In
Washington Goes to Mr. Smith: The ChangingRole of Citizens in Policy Development
, MattLeighninger of the Deliberative Democracy Forum reportslessons learned from several federal agency programs onhow governments can work productively with citizensonline. In one of the most impressive examples of theimpact of Web-enabled democracy, the State of Ohioinvited citizens to participate in an
to design a legislative redistricting plan.When three winning entries proved to be more fair andequitable than the State Legislature’s version, anamendment to the State Constitution was drawn up topermanently change the way districts are apportioned inthe future.
Planning for Citizen Engagement
offers advice for ruralcommunities on how to engage more citizens in thedecision making process. In Worchester, Massachusetts,citizens roam the streets each weekend carrying handheldcomputers and digital cameras looking for potholes,abandoned vehicles and other public nuisances and reportthem to the appropriate government agency.
highlights creative ways local governments arecollaborating with citizens to improve service delivery forthe benefit of the entire community.Civic Journalism is helping ordinary people engage moredeeply within their communities, as
New Media MakersPioneer Novel Forms of News
. Jan Schaffer, director ofthe Institute for Innovative Journalism, looks at how thisphenomenon—fed by the rapid economic decline oftraditional news organizations—Is providing communitieswith reliable, accurate and independent information.Contests, too, bring out the innovators. When theEnvironmental Protection Agency needed a fresh new wayto get the word out about the dangers of naturally occurringradon gas, it designed a video-production contest to recruitcreative citizens to help spread this critical public healthmessage.
Putting Your Audience to Work: EPA’sRadon Video Contest
gives the results.Many members of the generations born after the Internetare working hard to bring about meaningful change in theircommunities. Two of them created
A Millennial Model of Citizen Engagement
. Kim Kobza of NeighborhoodAmerica identifies
Emerging Themes for EffectiveOnline Citizen Engagement
that include having a clearsense of purpose, sensitivity to human motivators, anetwork perspective, and a willingness to relax traditionalrules.So we won’t forget the ongoing worldwide collaboration tocreate universal standards that makes open governmentfeasible,
The Importance of Open Web Standards for Open and Transparent Government
emphasizes theimportance of available and accessible interfaces andtools, so that what is saved, discoverable, archived andmanaged will be available in the future on demand.Countries around the world are creating opportunities forcitizens to participate in government. The Web is fosteringbetter communications and allows people to participate inimproving the operations of their government. Byharnessing the collaborative nature of the Web, democraticgovernments are engaging the public like never before. Inthe memorable words of folksinger Pete Seeger, whosingle-handedly inspired the citizens’ campaign thatsuccessfully cleaned up the Hudson River in New YorkState: “Participation—that’s what’s gonna save the humanrace.”
Darlene Meskell is the Director of the GSA Center for Intergovernmental Solutions in the GSA Office of Citizen Servicesand Communications.