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The Davenport Institute Partners on New Survey Study of Public Engagement in California

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After nearly a year in the making, the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at the School of Public Policy announced the release of a comprehensive survey of public engagement in California.

Two new reports by Public Agenda provide new insights into the perspectives of local public officials and the leaders of civic organizations on the state of public participation in local government decision making in California.

The reports document and analyze the results of research with more than 1,400 individuals conducted by Public Agenda in partnership with the Institute for Local Government and the Davenport Institute. This study was funded by the James Irvine Foundation.

For California public-sector leaders, the survey found that eight in 10 say they’re interested in learning more about public engagement practices that have worked elsewhere and 85 percent report that their views toward public engagement have changed since their careers began. Many say they have come to understand and value public engagement more over time.

The research indicates that public meetings often do not meet the needs of residents or local officials, and that large segments of the public are often missing from the decision-making process—especially low-income populations, immigrants, and young people. Officials and civic leaders share concern for a disconnect between the public and local decision makers, and desire greater public participation and stronger collaboration.

These and related findings, as well as recommendations for improving public engagement, may be of interest to multiple parties involved with public engagement in and beyond California. Audiences include local public officials, leaders of civic and community-based organizations, and funders investing in civic engagement or community development.

Download the reports and research highlights.