How are WE Doing? A Public Engagement Evaluation Platform | Pepperdine University | School of Public Policy

How are WE Doing? A Public Engagement Evaluation Platform

For almost a decade, the Davenport Institute has been researching, training, and consulting with public officials to improve the ways in which governments involve their residents in making tough policy decisions. This work has taken us throughout California and across the country, learning about and teaching the latest techniques in effective participatory governance.

We continue to hear from public leaders seeking to capture a "30,000-foot view" of their government's practices in this area. That is why we are launching "How are WE Doing?" to be that lens through which you can evaluate your municipality's public engagement processes.

 

how are WE doing icon

There are two ways to use this tool:

  1. Self-Evaluation: These questions are designed to help you think through your own engagement efforts. We hope they will help you identify areas of strength and weakness, and guide you to appropriate resources for making your relationship with residents even stronger.
  2. Recognition: If your municipality is already doing a great job of legitimate public engagement, we want to know! This platform allows you to submit an application to be recognized as a "publicly engaged city" at one of three levels. Answer the questions, and share some of your story to encourage other local governments to keep engaging!

For more information, we've answered some frequently asked questions below. You can also email the Davenport Institute or give us a call at 310-506-4494 for more information.

How do WE Measure Up?

This platform has been developed based on conversations and observations from our training, grant-making, and consultation, as well as on a survey of accepted best practices in the public engagement field.  We have relied on input from dozens of public officials, and our advisory council.  All of this has been directed by the following members of the Davenport Institute task force to develop How are WE Doing?

  • Artie Fields, City Manager, City of Inglewood
  • Rod Gould, City Manager, City of Santa Monica (retired) 
  • Ken Hampian, City Manager City of San Luis Obispo (retired) 
  • Dennis Donohue, former Mayor, City of Salinas

Together, this task force has developed a tool that will offer participants an accurate look at the quality and breadth of their own engagement efforts and allow municipalities to see how they rate and to apply for recognition as a publicly engaged organization.  It will also help us gather data and stories about how we are all doing in our attempts to better involve our residents - information we look forward to making available to all participants. 

How are WE Doing? will recognize three levels of engagement: 

platinum badge

This agency, city, county, or special district is a leader in the engagement field. It has earned this designation by meeting at least 17 of the criteria listed.

gold badge

This agency, city, county, or special district has successfully institutionalized resident engagement as part of its operational culture by successfully meeting at least 15 of the criteria listed.

silver badge

This agency, city, county or special district is making genuine efforts to improve its engagement with residents, and successfully meets at least 12 of the criteria listed.

 

What if WE aren't quite there?

At the Davenport Institute, we are fully aware that legitimate public engagement requires more than just a desire to engage.  We hope that as agencies, cities, counties, and special districts work through this checklist, they will begin to see areas where their engagement practices can improve.

As you explore this evaluation tool, we are also committed to helping you find the best resources to improve engagement with your residents.  Here are some places you can start: 

  • Training: The Davenport Institute offers both full-day and half-day trainings in the basics of public engagement, including aligning purpose and process. We also offer a shorter, executive seminar for upper level management and a variety of customized trainings. Or perhaps you are ready to tackle the world of online engagement. Our Gov 2.0 training is a great place to start. For more information on all of these options, visit our training page. Ready for something deeper, or looking to train engagement facilitators? We are happy to direct you to outside organizations offering facilitation and other trainings in the public engagement field. Email us to set up a call to discuss your particular needs.
  • Grant-making: Is a lack of resources to hire an outside consultant or facilitator holding you back from embarking on a project you would love to undertake in your community?  Each year the Institute offers a number of public engagement grants to help California cities, counties, special districts, and civic organizations engage residents across a variety of issues.  For more information, check out our annual grants page.
  • Resources: The Davenport Institute is committed to connecting cities to the public engagement resources that will help them succeed in legitimate public engagement. Check out the News & Resources pages on our website, and explore links to outside resources.  And don't forget to follow our public engagement blogs: Incommon and Gov 20 Watch
  • Personalized strategizing and consulting: Looking for something more specific? We can help connect you to our broad rolodex of public engagement consultants, facilitators, and experts across the state. Email us to set up a call to discuss what support your organization needs to meet your public engagement goals. 

What if WE are ready to move up to the next level?

Sometimes an organization submits an application for recognition, and our reviewers determine they don't quite meet the criteria of a publicly engaged city. Yet. We hope this will provide an opportunity to explore the various tools and trainings the Institute and our partners offer to strengthen engagement practices. Likewise, if your organization is recognized as a silver- or gold- level engaged municipality, we hope you will continue to press forward in your good work. 

For these reasons we absolutely encourage organizations to re-apply for recognition as they are able. Because good engagement takes time, and because new policies and practices take a while to become institutionalized, we do not anticipate that most organizations will be able to apply more than once in a year.  But we look forward to walking with you as you improve your engagement efforts until all of California's cities, counties, and special districts are at the platinum level of engagement. 

If you have any questions about re-applying or about how you can improve your engagement efforts, please email us to set up a time to meet or to talk over the phone about your specific needs.

Submitting an application for recognition.

Working through the How are WE Doing? evaluation platform will help you determine whether your organization is ready to apply to be recognized as a publicly engaged agency, city, county or special district.  When you are ready, you can apply by answering the questions in the boxes provided. As you work through these criteria, you will notice that many of them may seem open ended. Because the Davenport Institute recognizes that different communities face different challenges and bring different assets to the engagement process, we recognize thathowyour particular organization meets these criteria may look very different from the way that another organization accomplishes the same goal. 

Please provide whatever explanation or documentation you feel necessary to demonstrate how your organization meets each criteria. Written answers should be kept under 250 words. Please feel free to link to documents, policies, websites, news articles, etc that showcase how your organization is engaging your residents.  If you would like to provide documentation that is not available online, please feel free to email it to us separately, referencing your organization name and contact information in the email. If we require further clarification, we will contact you with specific requests. 

Ready to get started? 

Web Feedback