PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT TECHNIQUES
The genesis for this reader was two-fold:
1) A recognition that a great deal of material had been developed for IWR-sponsored training programs which many practitioners inside and outside government believed represented an important contribution to the field of public involvement, and therefore deserved publication; and,
2) A desire to provide recognition to IWR's contribution to the field over the past decade.
It is not unusual for editors to include two, or sometimes even three, of their own articles in a reader on a topic within their areas of expertise. A quick glance at the Table of Contents for this reader will indicate that we have liberally used this editorial privilege. The reason for this relates to the first motivation for this reader:
A desire to make materials available to others in the field which had previously been available only in Participant's Workbooks for IWR-sponsored training programs. Over the past few years Mr. Creighton has been privileged, to develop, under contract, the format and workbooks for three IWR courses: Executive Course; Public Involvement in Planning; Advanced Course on Public Involvement in Regulatory Functions. The materials in this reader under his authorship come from these courses.
THE RATIONALE AND NEED FOR PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT:
This section deals with the questions: Why is public involvement necessary? What does public involvement accomplish?
The first article is actually a presentation made by Lieutenant General F. J. Clarke, at that time the Chief of
Engineers, U.S. Army, to the first public involvement course sponsored by IWR. This presentation was made early in the decade--1971--and reflects the belief of the Corps of Engineers' top management that public involvement was essential as a means of adapting the Corps' program to the "environmental conscience" of the 70s. General Clarke also establishes another theme which recurs in this reader: implementing public involvement in a large governmental agency is not just the introduction of new procedures, but a fundamental program of change in the values and outlook of the agency. James R. Hanchey's article describes the objectives of public involvement from the perspective of the planner. While also written early in the decade, it remains an important summary of purposes served by public involvement recognizing that public involvement has multiple objectives:
1) Providing legitimacy to an agency;
2) Providing an exchange of information to and from the public; and, 3) serving as a vehicle for conflict resolution.
A. Bruce Bishop's article, first published in 1970, begins with the premise that water planning is, in fact, a program of social change. This premise allows him to draw on the literature of organizational and social change to develop a framework within which the planner approaches interaction with the public as a change agent, consciously working with the community to produce desired social change.
One argument offered in opposition to public involvement is that decision makers should act as advocates for the public interest, even when that public interest may be at odds with the popular sentiment of the moment. Glendon Shubert, Jr. deals with this issue by describing the competing theories of the public interest, then analyzing their usefulness for the decision maker.
In a paper written in 1974, but not published until 1976, Creighton suggests that the current demand for public involvement has been created by a breakdown of a consensus on the social values governing the management of natural resources. The result is that competition is created among vying political interests to become the new conventional wisdom. During this struggle there is a demand for issue-by-issue accountability which puts unexpected demands on the representative form of government. Public involvement is an effort to cope with these demands. Toward the end of the decade, Jerry Delli Priscoli provides an overview of public involvement in the context of changes in government generally. He notes that planners often make decisions of a magnitude that is really legislative rather than administrative, and discusses the relationship between public involvement and other processes of political representation.