Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Transformative Power of Citizen Engagement and Priority Based Budgeting

There has been a lot of (deserving) hype lately revolving around the success of priority based budgeting, citizen engagement, and how these two powerful and empowering "leading practices" are transforming local government budget processes and local governments themselves at the base level.

Citizens have been increasingly going online to engage with family, friends, colleagues, businesses and organizations. Accordingly, local governments are increasingly interested in how to go online for civic engagement with their constituents. However, online forums, blogs, and crowd-sourcing tools are frequently dominated by bullies, vitriol and misinformation.

One of the most significant proponents of citizen engagement is the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership. Per the Davenport website, "Since our founding as a multi-partisan and non-profit organization in 2005, The Davenport Institute (formerly Common Sense California) has worked to engage the citizens of this state (California) in the policy decisions that affect our everyday lives. It is our firm belief that, in today's world of easy access to information, and easy connectivity to others, California's municipal and education leaders are seeking ways to involve the residents of their communities in the important issues they confront. Done legitimately, this new kind of leadership produces better, more creative policy solutions and better, more engaged citizens committed to the hard work of self-governance."

To further promote citizen engagament, the Davenport Institute provides grants to communities to facilitate this practice.  Since 2008 (then conducted through Common Sense California), these grants have been used to support cities, counties, special districts and civic organizations as they have endeavored to engage their residents on a variety of issues.

From difficult budget decisions to tough land use problems, municipal and civic institutions have recognized that legitimately engaging their citizens - from discovering their informed opinions, to inviting their participation in actual solutions - should be a pragmatic priority. Still, the tight budgets that most require these public discussions can also preclude them when municipalities decide that engaging residents is just “too expensive.” The grant program is intended to alleviate the fiscal obstacle to civic engagement.

In what has been the most competitive year, the Davenport Institute announced their 2013 Public Engagement Grantees:  
  1. City of Placentia: This city of 50,000+ is looking to convene a series of budget workshops to engage residents around some tough decisions. 
  2. City of Brea: This Orange County City is involving its residents in some significant planning decisions. 
  3. City of Riverside: This city of 300,000+ is undertaking a city-wide community building program, looking to involve residents more directly in service delivery. 
  4. City of Salinas: This Central Coast city will be involving their residents in a public budgeting process, facilitated by the center for Priority Based Budgeting
While we wish to congratulate all 2013 grantees, we are particularly excited about the City of Salinas, California, award. The Center for Priority Based Budgeting is currently working with the City of Salinas in their implementation of Priority Based Budgeting. Incorporating citizen engagement in this process will only enhance this work.

As an example of the power of citizen engagement in Priority Based Budgeting, look to the incredible results achieved in Douglas County, Nevada. It was here that Peak Democracy and the CPBB, in partnership with the County, teamed up on an incredible project. And thanks to Peak Democracy, we now have yet another comprehensive case study that further proves how fundamentally effective and transformative priority based budgeting and citizen engagement can be, both independently and employed together. Read the full Douglas County Case Study here.

Peak Democracy and the Center for Priority Based Budgeting have trail-blazed an entirely contemporary way for today’s citizens to participate in and influence their government. Douglas County took it to a whole new level. And we intend to replicate, if not exceed, this success in the City of Salinas.

Congratulations again to all the winners of the Davenport Institute 2013 Public Engagement Grantees from the Center for Priority Based Budgeting!

Keep an eye on the CPBB blog for further updates. Sign-up for our social media pages so you stay connected with TEAM CPBB!

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If you're thinking of jumping into the world of Fiscal Health and Wellness through Priority Based Budgeting we would certainly like to be part of your efforts! Contact us to schedule a free webinar and identify the best CPBB service option(s) to meet your organization's particular needs.

"DATA VISUALIZATION" for Local Government


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