« too much coverage of the Virginia Tech tragedy | Main | celebrity culture and politics »

April 23, 2007

citizen liaison offices

(In Massachusetts) Colleagues and I are looking for policy ideas that would support civic participation. In 1994, in a report for the White House Domestic Policy Council, Paul Light recommended the creation of a "Citizen Liaison Office" (CLO) within each major federal agency. A CLO would review existing procedures and programs for barriers to citizen participation. It would likewise review proposed laws and regulations. Each CLO would provide training for employees of its own agency on how to work with citizens--not individual citizens, viewed as clients or constituents, but organized groups that address problems assigned to the agency. For instance, EPA collaborates effectively with communities and associations that conduct environmental monitoring. Finally, all the CLOs would meet as an inter-agency task force to share ideas and work out government-wide policies for enhancing citizens' involvement. Today, some of the most promising of such policies would take advantage of computer networks. For example, citizens could participate online in rulemaking, using one website for all agencies. They would not just submit individual comments on proposed regulations, but would participate in a "wiki"-like process that would add value.

Light asked "whether government really needs another bureaucratic unit, more paperwork, and more reports." As a true expert on the federal civil service and public administration, he concluded that the benefits of adding CLOs would be well worth the price. The same idea could be applied in local government, as recommended in 1993 by the National Commission on the State and Local Public Service.

April 23, 2007 12:33 AM | category: none


Site Meter