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Assessing Public Engagement Effectiveness: Rapid Review Worksheets

Comparison Worksheet C

Local officials are increasingly using a wide range of public engagement strategies to help them inform, consult with and deliberatively engage residents on topics such as land use, budgeting, housing, sustainability, health and environment, public safety and much more.

While there is a growing body of literature and experience about how to engage the public, there are few practical tools to gauge the success of these approaches. Recognizing that local officials and staff have limited time and resources, the Institute for Local Government has created these online Rapid Review Worksheets to help local governments assess how well their public engagement processes worked.

See this free, downloadable resource at right.


Special thanks to the following individuals whose expertise contributed to this resource:

  • Lynne Ashbeck, Councilmember, City of Clovis
  • Robin Cox, Health Education Manager, Solano County
  • Richard Haffey, County Executive Officer, County of Nevada City
  • Matt Leighninger, Executive Director, Deliberative Democracy Consortium
  • Paul Leistner, Neighborhood Program Coordinator, City of Portland, Oregon

Please note that all worksheets are products of the Institute for Local Government (ILG) and may not be altered. 

Overall, this set of Rapid Review Worksheets lays out a four-step public engagement review process. Some local agencies may wish to use one or a number of these assessment steps; others may wish to follow all four. The following chart reviews each worksheet’s purpose.

  Worksheets Description Summary
A. Participant Review Instructions and Worksheet A. A worksheet for public engagement participants to assess their experiences. This worksheet contains 20 statements, with four possible responses for each statement, that allow participants to indicate their perspectives on the public engagement process. As an option, the worksheet also includes a short list of questions that participants can reflect or comment on individually, or be used to guide discussions among participants.
B. Local Official Sponsor/Convener Review Worksheet B. A worksheet for the local agency sponsors/conveners to provide their perspectives on how they believe participants experienced the public engagement process. (The 20 statements and response choices match those on the Participant Worksheet.) There is also a short list of questions that can be considered individually and/or be used to launch a discussion with the other local officials completing the worksheet.
C. Comparison Worksheet C. An Excel document that provides side by side comparisons of the aggregated participant and local officials responses to the statements on Review Worksheets A and B, demonstrating similarities and differences between the views of participants and local agency officials. Two accompanying tally sheets allow easy online computation of these responses. There are also questions to guide initial discussion on these points by local officials.
D. Process Improvement Worksheet D. A worksheet to guide local officials’ discussions of information from Worksheet C, identify areas of improvement, and document these improvements for future public engagement processes. Discussions and recommendations can build on the compared responses of participant and local officials on the Comparison Worksheet © and from the specific additional questions for local official sponsor/conveners found on this worksheet.

Each component builds on the previous one, creating additional insights, documenting what has been learned, and clarifying how improvements can be made in future public engagement activities. However, local officials may choose to use only the Participant Worksheet A, or the Participant Worksheet A and the questions in step two and three of the Process Improvement Worksheet D.

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