Public Involvement Techniques
3.B - Designing Programs to Bring
Out Community Viewpoints and Resolve Differences
Standard meeting formats are not always successful in bringing
out a full range of community viewpoints or resolving differences
of opinion. Sometimes participants need other ways to make their
views known and to build consensus. The use of special techniques,
some of which are costly and must be conducted by professional consultants,
may be warranted in such situations.
Agencies can use very specific means to obtain feedback from participants
and weigh them along with other peoples positions. New techniques
such as customer-based analysis help agencies determine the communitys
needs and what might satisfy those needs. Reliability of results,
in terms of substance and statistical validity, depends on the method
When people make their views known but are unable to reach consensus
on the issues, alternative dispute resolution techniques can help
resolve the conflicts. Whether disagreements are settled without
outside assistance (for example, by negotiation) or require a third
party to mediate depends upon the complexity of the issues, the
extent of the stalemate, and the skills and spirit with which all
parties enter into the resolution process.
Ways to get direct feedback and resolve differences include:
- Focus groups;
- Public opinion surveys;
- Facilitation; and
- Negotiation and mediation.
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For more information about the TPCB program, contact Michelle
at FHWA (202-366-9206) or John Sprowls
at FTA (202-366-5362).