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Innovating at the Point of Citizen Engagement


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In this guide, we share 7 examples where government is improving access to services and information along the spectrum of citizen engagement: 'must do', 'should do' and 'can do' moments. Full content can be found here:

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Innovating at the Point of Citizen Engagement

  2. 2. 1. THEGOVLOOPGUIDEW E L C O M E / C O N T E N T SIntroduction - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 3The Spectrum of Citizen Engagement - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 6 Arnstein’s Ladder - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 8 IAP2’s Spectrum - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 8 Maslow’s Hierarchy - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 8“Must Do” Moments - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 10Retooling Tax Time: How to Educate and Engage Taxpayers on the Go - - - - - - - - - 11Rejuvenating Jury Duty: How a “Captive” Audience Becomes a Catalyst for Action - - - 13Constructing Strong Communities: Improving the Permit and Property Management Process - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 17“Should Do” Moments - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 20Helping the Hard to Reach: How Savvy Social Workers Build Digital Bridges - - - - - - 21Transforming Town Hall: How a Co-Located Community Center Works Wonders - - - - 23Engaging By Email: How to “Upsell Engagement”Through Sign-Ups and Subscriptions - 27
  3. 3. 2.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENT“Can Do” Moments - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 30Enabling Citizen Energy: How Raleigh Opens Up Opportunities for Innovation - - - - - - 30Mobilizing a Movement: How Online Community Connects Neighbors in Need - - - - - 35Overcoming Budget Constraints: How Crowdfunding Supplements Tight Budgets - - - - - 37Summary - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 41Acknowledgements - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 43About GovLoop - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 44Resources - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 45
  4. 4. 3. THEGOVLOOPGUIDEWhat’s the point of citizen engagement?If you think about it, that question has two an-swers:1. When you first hear that question, you likelythink of the word “point” as tied to meaning.The point, in this case, comes from asking our-selves: Why do we want citizens to have anexchange with government? What’s the pointof them interacting with us? Is completing atransaction enough or do we want citizens totell government more about their experiencerelated to that transaction? Do we want themto get more involved in the machinations ofgovernment?2. Of course, there is another way of thinkingabout the point of citizen engagement, whichis the place where citizens encounter their gov-ernment. As citizens lead increasingly mobilelives and many services move online or to mo-bile environments, such as tablets and apps,the physical location of engagement is becom-ing less relevant. In many ways, the place hasbecome more like a moment when necessitymeets opportunity.For example, let’s say my son says, “Daddy, let’sgo fishing” one sunny Saturday morning and Isay, “Sorry, son, but we’d need to head over tothe Department of Natural Resources to get alicense, and by the time we go there and getback, it’s going to be too late.” Instead, imaginethat I could say, “Let’s do it, son! I’ll use DNR’smobile app to get our licenses right now. We’llbe out the door in 10 minutes. Get the gear andhop in the car.”The point of engagement, in this case, is be-ing available wherever citizens require a keyinteraction with or important information fromgovernment.This guide is designed to offer innovative ex-amples of government agencies that are seek-ing to improve access to services and infor-I N T R O D U C T I O N
  5. 5. 4.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENTmation in a variety of moments when citizensengage with government. It aims to inspiregovernment organizations to leverage thesemoments as opportunities to build trust andempower citizens. Specifically, this report willexplore:“Must Do” MomentsThese points of engagement are compulsory.Whether it is paying taxes, reporting for juryduty or getting a permit to operate machineryor engage in recreation, citizens are requiredby law to perform these actions. How do we le-verage these “forced” moments to inform andinvite citizens to other opportunities for en-gagement? We share two innovative examplesin this section.“Should Do” MomentsThese are the points of engagement when citi-zens aren’t required to participate, but it be-hooves them to do so. They might be eligiblefor benefits, interested in budget and policydecisions, or invested in an electoral outcome,but lack the time or knowledge to participatefully. How does government make it easier totake advantage of these opportunities? Thissection covers case studies where governmenthas effectively facilitated a connection.“Can Do” MomentsSometimes citizens create their own rallyingpoint. They gather together around a com-mon cause and say, “we can do it!” - and theydo. They organize themselves and take actionon a pressing issue or community challenge -sometimes creating tools and resources thatsupplement the good work of elected offi-cials and government employees. How doesgovernment most effectively come alongsidethese initiatives to appropriately fuel the posi-tive, collective energy of a committed group ofcitizens? This section shares case studies of cit-izen-led, government-supported partnership.None of these moments are more importantthan another, but all are vital to building a bet-ter society of informed and active citizens. Thisguide will help you think innovatively aboutthe points of engagement in which “we thepeople” - public sector professionals and thecitizens you serve - can work collaboratively tomake the most of every moment where we en-counter each other.This guide will help you thinkinnovatively about the points ofengagement in which “we the people”- public sector professionals andthe citizens you serve - can workcollaboratively to make the most ofevery moment where we encountereach other.
  7. 7. 6.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENTll too often, we make a falsedistinction between twotiers of engagement - pas-sive (pay a bill, submit aform, receive an email) andactive (feedback, participa-tion, volunteerism) - and wetypically consider the latter to be more valu-able than the former. The truth is that there isa spectrum of citizen engagement and govern-ment operates most effectively when it thinksabout service provision and information de-livery in ways that leverage what is importantto the citizen in real-time. The key is learningtheir interests and providing more of whateveris meaningful to citizens in the midst of theirbusy lives.The literature supporting this idea of a citi-zen engagement spectrum is plentiful. For in-stance, Sherry Arnstein proposed a “Ladder ofCitizen Participation” that ranged from nonpar-ticipation to citizen power. At the bottom ofArnstein’s ladder is manipulation and therapy,which is when government attempts to pushan agenda or use influence to build supportThe Spectrum of CitizenEngagement
  8. 8. 7. THEGOVLOOPGUIDEfor an idea. In the next threelevels, government tells citi-zens what they need to know(informing), encourages par-ticipation in surveys and townhall meetings to gain feed-back (consultation) or invitescitizens to participate in plan-ning committees with limitedauthority (placation). The topthree rungs find citizens andgovernment sitting side-by-side on governing boards withdecision-making authority(partnerships and delegatedpower) or even giving citizensthe final say on matters thatimpact them and their com-munities (citizen power).Another more recent modelis the “Spectrum of Engage-ment Activities” developed bythe International Associationfor Public Participation. LikeArnstein’s ladder, governmentcan inform, consult, involve,collaborate and empower citi-zens via varying types of en-gagement. The IAP2 model isshown to the right.Finally, GovLoop FounderSteve Ressler has suggestedthat “Maslow’s Hierarchy ofNeeds is a great way to viewthe citizen demand curve.”He explained in a blog poston GovLoop that govern-ment must meet citizens’ basicneeds before moving them upthe hierarchy.Based on several indicators,Ressler learned that, “Funda-mental needs like applying forbenefits or emergency alertsare inherently more popularthan deeper engagement”when it comes to online inter-actions – and government canleverage the points of basicengagement to move citizenstoward more robust forms ofinteraction and involvement.In fact, Ressler asks govern-ment readers an importantquestion:Are youconnecting thebase needs ofcitizens todeeperengagementopportunities?In many ways, it’s this ques-tion that drives the vignettes– the “must do”, “should do”and “can do” moments - thatyou’ll read in the next threesections as they reveal inno-vative ways that governmenthas leveraged one point of en-gagement to move citizens toanother level.Engage with ColleaguesTo join the conversation on related blog posts on GovLoop, please visit:How Agencies Can Climb the 8 Rungs of Citizen ParticipationMaslow’s Hierarchy of Need for CitizensResources“Best Practices in Citizen Engagement” by American Speaks“Planning for Stronger Local Democracy” by the National League of Cities“The Spectrum of Public Participation” by the International Association of Public Participation
  9. 9. 8.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENTCitizen Problem SolvingThis could include building an app based on open data or organizing a citizenwatch group. Volunteer activities and events that seek impact are found at thislevel.Sharing IdeasIn-person or online town halls offer opportunities to give feedback on pro-grams. Citizens also gather to enjoy art or musical performance where com-munity members share their talents.General Agency Content/News/EventsCitizens want a sense of belonging. This means getting news about your com-munity, such as parks information or the latest on a new school opening.Emergencies/JobsEmergency alerts like text/emails with snow/hurricane or health-related infor-mation. This level deals with finding employment – providing for one’s family.Basic TransactionsFor government, that’s the basic transactions - getting a driver’s license, re-newing a passport, applying for food stamps or paying taxes for services thatsupport society.Self-ActualizationEsteemLove/BelongingSafetyPhysiologicalMorality,creativity,spontaneity,problem solving,lack of predjudice,acceptance of factsSelf-esteem, confidence,achievement, respect of others,respect by othersFriendship, family, sexual intimacySecurity of: body, employment, resources,morality, the family, health, propertyBreathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion3. MASLOW’S HIERARCHYOF NEEDS1. LADDER OF CITIZENPARTICIPATION2. SPECTRUM OF ENGAGEMENT ACTIVITIESCitizen ControlDelegated PowerPartnershipPlacationConsultationInformingTherapyManipulation87654321Citizen PowerTokenismNonparticipationInform Consult Involve Collaborate EmpowerPublicParticipationGoalExampleTechniquesTo provide thepublic with bal-anced and objec-tive informationto assist them inunderstanding theproblem, alterna-tives, opporunitiesand/or solutions.Fact sheetsWeb sitesOpen housesPublic commentFocus groupsSurveysPublic meetingsWorkshopsDeliberative poll-ingCitizen advisorycommitteesConsensus-build-ingParticipatorydecision-makingCitizen juriesBallotsDelegated deci-sionTo obtain publicfeedback on analy-sis, alternativesand/or decisions.To work directlywith the publicthroughout theprocess to ensurethat public con-cerns and aspira-tions are consis-tently understoodand considered.To partner withthe public in eachaspext of the deci-sion including thedevelopment ofalternatives andthe identificationof the preferredsolution.To place finaldecision-makingin the hands of thepublic.Increasing Level of Public Impact3ModelsOf CitizenEngagement
  11. 11. 10.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENTt’s the law. Plain and simple,there are just some actionswhich government demandsof its citizens. For instance,President James Madisononce said that, “The powerof taxing people and theirproperty is essential to the very existence ofgovernment” and former Supreme Court Jus-tice Oliver Wendell Holmes noted that, “Taxesare what we pay for civilized society.” If youwant to drive a vehicle, you must obtain a validlicense. When a letter comes in the mail sum-moning you to appear in court, you must com-ply or be held in contempt.The truth is that most of us chafe at being toldthat we “must do” something. Knowing this re-ality – that compulsory actions can be onerous– government bears a responsibility to makethese actions as easy as possible. That couldmean modernizing “must do” moments for the21st century by adapting the latest technologyto place the power of real-time informationat citizens’ fingertips. It might also mean le-veraging these moments to guide citizens to-ward other interactions with government thatare more meaningful to them – the things thatmove them up Arnstein’s ladder or rise to thetop of Maslow’s hierarchy – and that ultimatelybuild trust and mutual respect.This section explores two ways that govern-ment could modernize and more effectivelyengage citizens during two “must do” mo-ments: taxes and jury duty.“MUST DO” MOMENTS
  12. 12. 11. THEGOVLOOPGUIDELike clockwork, tax season rollsaround every April and citizensacross the nation flood the IRSwith phone calls and websitevisits looking for vital infor-mation. While many citizensloathe the idea of filing taxes,it is something everyone mustdo to remain in accordancewith the law. In order to makethe process easier and to pro-vide citizens with the infor-mation they need in a timelymanner, former IRS commis-sioner Doug Shulman pushedfor a mobile tool that wouldhave a big impact on the filingseason by allowing citizens toget their refund status withouthaving to use the telephone orthe web.In January 2011, the IRS de-veloped the “IRS2Go” app inorder to provide services andinformation that citizens wereusing on the websitevia mobile phones. Originally,the IRS identified 25 ideas toengage citizens through theIRS2Go app based on visitoractivity on their website, butultimately focused on just fourmain features as a startingpoint:seeing your refund status,receiving tax law updates,engaging with IRS on socialmedia, andgetting contact informationfor agency personnel.Ideally, the app would not justbe a one time, downloadabletool, but would expand therelationship with citizens be-yond the official IRS website.In order to understand and re-spond to citizen feedback re-garding the app, an IRS teampaid close attention to the rat-ings and reviews being provid-ed in the various app stores. Is-sues included everything from‘look and feel’ to recommend-ed features.By reviewing this ongoinguser feedback and monitoringcitizen interactions with theagency across the web, the IRSupdated the app and releaseda new version with expandedfeatures in February 2013. Forinstance, the IRS noticed an in-crease in visits to the agency’sYouTube channel, so the newiteration of the app includednew and popular videos, mark-ing another key integrationwith social media.Mike Silvia, Director of OnlineExperience and OperationsManagement at the IRS, notedthat, “people embracing IRS-2Go has been terrific. Citizensare using it more and more forfinding their refund status, somuch so that between 15-20%of all online interaction withthe IRS now comes throughthe ‘Where’s My Refund’ toolon mobile devices.” The IRS-2Go app has also received nu-merous accolades and govern-ment innovation awards forcreatively utilizing new tech-nology to engage citizens anddeliver better services.In addition to providing an-other communication pointwith the IRS, the app has gen-erated nearly 140,000 emailsubscribers, which enables theIRS to deliver timely informa-tion to taxpayers and sustainthe relationship with citizensbeyond a single point in timewhen they submit their tax re-turn.7 KEYS TO ENGAGING CITI-ZENS ON THE GO WITH MO-BILE APPSHow can other agencies learnfrom the IRS’ success with theIRS2Go app? Below are sevenlessons they have learned overthe last two years:Retooling Tax Time: Howto Educate and EngageTaxpayers on the Go
  13. 13. 12.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENT1. Identify a champion. Theimpetus for creating the IRS-2Go app came from the verytop. It’s not always the casethat an agency head will spuran innovation, but most suc-cessful initiatives that breaknew ground have the imprima-tur of a high-ranking official. Ifyou’ve got an innovative idea,find a senior leader that willsupport and sustain the initia-tive from concept to comple-tion.2. Respond to known citizenactivity. Did you notice thatthe IRS began their develop-ment of the app by learninghow citizens were already in-teracting with the agency onthe web? They performed ananalysis of historic visitor ac-tivity on their official site andgenerated a list of potentialfeature sets to inform productrequirements. Leverage thedata you already have to iden-tify citizen information prefer-ences.3. Narrow your project scope.The IRS exercised extraordi-nary restraint to whittle down25 ideas to just 4 final features.Yet that prioritization anddecision-making process wasone of the big reasons theywere able to stand up the appquickly and successfully.4. Think outside the box.Since IRS2Go isn’t a big lega-cy system or a tax processingsystem, it needed a differentapproach to implementation.The IRS did not follow the tra-ditional product developmentmodel they have in place. “Wecame up with a modified soft-ware development process toget some of our more lighterweight changes out there,”said Silvia. As a result, “we cre-ated the app inexpensivelyand efficiently without takingany shortcuts on security.”5. Iterate quickly and regu-larly. That modified processalso allowed the IRS to makechanges on a more regular ba-sis. They make updates to theapp about once a week, fixingbugs and improving the citi-zen experience in much short-er increments.6. Listen to citizen feedback.As mentioned above, the IRS is“constantly watching the rat-ings in the app store to seeEngage with ColleaguesHave you heard of the Mobile Gov Community of Practice? It’s hosted at as a cross-government, multidisciplinary community dedicated to cre-ating open systems and technical assistance tools to build a public-centricpath to government anytime, anywhere. Its members created the Mobile GovWiki with over 100 articles about Mobile Gov topics and practices. The Wikiincludes tools and resources to help agencies build a mobile strategy and im-plement customer–facing mobile products so they don’t have to reinvent thewheel. Please visit to connect with othermobile government innovators. There’s also a MobileGov group on GovLoop:
  14. 14. 13. THEGOVLOOPGUIDEThere you sit, held captive atthe courthouse for severalhours while you wait to see ifyou’re called to be a juror. Youknow it’s your civic duty, butyou can’t help but feel a bitlike the people who are sittingtrial - a little nervous knowingthat your future rests mostly atthe mercy of someone else.The truth is, whenever youare called for jury duty, youbecome a public servant - acritical role in our democraticsociety. That’s why it’s worthexploring the potential for this“must do” moment of civic ser-vice to become a catalyst forother forms of engagement.Again, we turn to an excerptfrom a blog post by GovLoopFounder Steve Ressler:Yesterday, I spent all day in juryduty. In the end, I didn’t getpicked for the weeklong trial,but I found the whole processpretty fascinating. It’s great tosee a truly diverse, cross-sectiongroup of individuals across thecity come together to serve ingovernment. Based on my ex-perience, I wanted to share 3lessons that any citizen engage-ment project can learn from juryduty:1. It’s a civic duty: I was im-pressed by how many people inthe room mentioned that theydidn’t mind jury duty as it wastheir civic duty. The judges men-tioned multiple times that it waswhat made America great andemphasized the importance ofjuries to the process.Lesson: It made me feel like Imattered as a citizen and thatwhat we were doing was impor-tant. Most people are willing tomake a sacrifice and help out - ifyou make it clear what you wantthem to accomplish.2. Make it concrete: What I likeabout jury duty is that it is veryclear. Show up on this date atthis location. Often citizen en-gagement and volunteer proj-ects are vague in timing andvague in what they need.Lesson: There’s something greatabout simplicity - you are askedwhere people are having is-sues and addressing those con-cerns,” said Silvia. “While we’vefocused more on the features,you’ll also see that we’ve madedesign changes. For instance,we don’t have the image inthe background anymore dueto feedback.” Lesson: listen tofeedback and be responsive.7. Integrate with other com-munication channels. IRS2Gohas helped to get more citizenssubscribed to agency news byemail and social media plat-forms. They have an integrat-ed communications approachwhich uses the IRS2Go app todrive people to the traditionalwebsite and YouTube for infor-mation and urges people tosign up for email updates. Inturn, social media serves as anadditional listening tool anddirects citizens to the websitefor better information.To learn more about IRS2Goand to see examples of otheragencies using mobile apps toengage the public, please visit Jury Duty:Can a “Captive” AudienceBe a Catalyst for CitizenEngagement?
  15. 15. 14.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENTonce on a specific day and mostpeople know what to do. Also, itis concrete on what is done withyour input. If you are on a jury,you come together and decideon a trial. Too often with citizenengagement programs, it’s un-clear how much of the feedbackwill be utilized.3. It’s all about execution. Thelittle things make a big differ-ence. The city had obviouslythought through the jurors’perspective and it was prettysmooth (free parking garage,quick security, friendly check-in, flat panel TVs, free wi-fi, cafenext to the room, and maga-zines).Lesson: Throughout the day,the city executed well and it feltthat they respected your time.In the end, it all comes down toexecution and these items havea huge impact on whether theperson has a positive or nega-tive perception of government.Why don’t we use jury dutywaiting time better? Thiswould be the “perfect” place toencourage citizens to sign up forcity alerts, ask for input on a cityproject, give reminders aboutimportant deadlines and notic-es. You have a captive audiencethat is thinking about govern-ment and are bored in the wait-ing room.In response to this question,GovLoop members shared thefollowing ways that govern-ment might make better useof this “must do” moment:Show Educational and/orPromotional Videos: Onerespondent asked, “Why nothave videos or interactivesabout the history of the justicesystem in the U.S., or about thehistory of the common lawsand courts in general (perhapsproviding context for the cur-rent U.S. system)?” Anothercontributor affirmed the po-tential value of this idea:“When I served on jury duty ayear or so ago, there were 3- to4-minute video loops runningon what we could expect dur-ing the selection process --which information was reiter-ated live when the court clerkcame to get the crowd to gointo the courtroom for the se-lection process. I would haveenjoyed learning about up-coming County or City issuesor events, other opportunitiesto participate in the Countyand City government process-es, about outstanding historicand current area citizens, etc. “Highlight Local Heroes:There are people in everycommunity who are making adifference. For instance, “Weprobably can never thank sol-diers, law enforcement, civilengineers, etc. enough!” re-marked one GovLoop member.She then wondered: “Who, lo-cally and in other communities,are the ‘regular’ folks workingin the public sector who do ad-mirable or worthy things?”Thenegative citizen perception ofgovernment employees couldbe countered by sharing in-novative, cost-saving activi-ties that shows citizens howpublic servants are striving to
  16. 16. 15. THEGOVLOOPGUIDEbe good stewards of their taxdollars.Feature Non-Profits / CivicOrganizations Where Citi-zens May Donate or Volun-teer: Similar to the previousidea, jury duty could be usedto inform people about theimportant work performedby key organizations in theregion. One commenter onGovLoop noted, “In my county,they have multiple non-profitorganizations to which thejuror can opt to donate theirpayment from the court tothe chosen non-profit group.”In order to help people knowmore about the potential plac-es to donate, there could be “aslideshow presentation featur-ing each non-profit and show-ing the jurors how the moneyfrom the previous donationswere used would be informa-tive as well as feature somevolunteer opportunities to thejurors offered in their commu-nity.”Promote Sign-Up for Oth-er Events and Information:Another missed opportunityappears to be sign-ups for of-ficial, regulated activities:“Perhaps citizens could reg-ister with Live Scan or get abackground check performed,should they decide to pur-chase a gun? High-blood pres-sure or other health screening?Donate blood or platelets?Help prep food for a local foodbank? Register for voting? Getadditional background on cur-rent and near-term events inthe legislature? Apply for pub-lic sector jobs? Participate ininformation-gathering polls orsurveys? Take a (short, pre-ap-proved) seminar that has beenmade available on the publicnetwork within the complex,so as not to unduly bias po-tential jurors, or compromisethe security of the potentialtrial(s)? “Gain Feedback on Key Ini-tiatives: All too often, it’s hardto get the perspective of anaverage citizen on an issue. Italways seems like the peopleon the polar opposite sidesare the ones who are active invoicing their opinion. What ifjury duty was a chance to getcitizen input on the core stra-tegic issues facing a commu-nity? One GovLoop membersuggested the following pro-cess:“I think the key is to be veryselective about the topic; andmake the presentation option-al, interesting and appealing.Maybe a person introduces avideo that gives them infor-mation about a topic/issue;and then asks what they thinkshould be done. If they haveideas, they can put them in acomments box. (Since theymaybe called into court anyminute, you can’t really have afull-blown discussion or roundtable.) But I’d suggest takingbaby steps; maybe do thisonce a month or quarter andsee what happens. “Ensure that there’s freewifi so people can remainproductive: Keeping peopleproductive and contributingto their work environmentsmight be another simple wayto leverage the wait time. “IfI were called today, I wouldbring my laptop and do asmuch real work as possible,”said one GovLoop member.“That’s where I make the great-est impact.”Impact is the key word, andjury duty is just one more op-portunity to connect withcitizens and cultivate a sus-tainable relationship that haslasting impact beyond a ran-dom point in time.Engage with ColleaguesTo join the conversation about rejuvenating jury duty, please visit:Does Jury Duty = Citizen Engagement?How Can We Get Citizens More Engaged While They Wait at Jury Duty?
  17. 17. 16.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENTMaximizing the “Must Do” Moments:4 Core Questions“Must do” moments are the foundation for government engagement with citizens.Mandatory opportunities may be your best (if not only) interaction, so it’s importantto get them right as it sets the tone for public perception and citizen satisfaction.Make a list of the “must do” moments where you have responsibility and input, and askeach of these questions:1. How can we modernize this point of engagement to make it easier or faster?2. How can we leverage this point of engagement to help citizens learn moreabout other services, events, or other resources that benefit them?3. How can we use this moment to gain citizen input on core initiatives that re-quire public feedback?4. How can we get citizens to mobilize or take action in their community?Citizens are compelled to participate in these “must do” moments. How are you mak-ing the most of this mandatory opportunity?“Must Do” Pivot PointsCONTRACTING: RFPs / RFQsEDUCATION: Enrollment ApplicationsHEALTH: Inspection ScoresHOUSING: Taxes and PermitsHUMAN RESOURCES: Job ApplicationsLIBRARY: CheckoutRECREATION: Park FeesSOCIAL SERVICES: Standard FormsTRANSPORTATION: License / RegistrationCan you think of other “must do” moments for citizens?
  18. 18. 17. THEGOVLOOPGUIDEWhen it comes to citizen engagement, there are some actions that fall between “must do”and “should do.” Businesses need to file forms and abide by laws and regulations, whilehomeowners pay property taxes and make upgrades to their land or houses. At the pointof these interactions is a company called Accela, which powers thousands of services andmillions of transactions for more than 500 public agencies worldwide, enabling govern-ments to connect with citizens and streamline processes related to land management,asset management, licensing, and public health & safety. We had the opportunity to interview Accela’sCEO, Maury Blackman, and gain his insights regarding ways in which governments can streamline citizenaccess to key information and important interactions.Q: What is citizen engagement?Blackman: “From our standpoint, citizen engagement really hits three areas. First, it includes managingpublic infrastructure in terms of taking care of what’s in the city - fixing potholes, downed stop signs, etc.The second piece is making it easy to open a business by enabling entrepreneurs and small business own-ers to understand the rules and requirements to set up a restaurant, for instance. Third, we look at prop-erty management. People are obviously passionate about their homes and the places where they live.How does government have a conversation with them about what’s going on with their property as wellas their neighbors and what’s going on around them?”Q: Why is mobile engagement becoming more and more important?Blackman: “Let me give you a clear case study about why mobile matters. One of the key markets thatour customers want to work with includes contractors. They want to reach out to contractors to make iteasy to build in their communities. Well, guess what? Contractors don’t sit behind desks and surf websites.They’re on the job. They’re doing work! But what do they all have? They all have phones. If we can pro-vide those services to them on a mobile phone so they can transact with their government - get permits,schedule inspections, get updates directly from their phones - then we’ve accomplished our mission.”Q: Do you have an example you can cite?Blackman: “One of my favorite stories is this small border town in Arizona called Nogales. They have aneed for citizen engagement just like New York City, Boston or Washington, DC. We were able to go inwith our civic cloud and get them up and running within just a few months. Now they have a very effec-tive system that they are happy with that is regulating the businesses in their neighborhoods and helpingthem build buildings faster.”Q: In 100 words or less, how does Accela help government and citizens connect?Blackman: “If you want in your jurisdiction to be able to build buildings fast, and fill those up with cuttingedge businesses, then you need to be talking to us. We can put you on the forefront of those activitiesand enable you to engage with your customers in ways you probably didn’t think of before.”To read the full interview, click here. To learn more about Accela and their Civic Cloud, please visit: Citizens to Build Strong Communities More EfficientlyAn Interview with Maury Blackman, CEO of Accela
  19. 19. 18.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENTAccela connects governments  to people and streamlines processes such aspermitting, licensing, asset land management and public health & safety.We power civic excellence.We apply cloud, mobile and social technologies to  agency and citizen chal-lenges and connect government to people. We empower civic engagement.At Accela, civic excellence + civic engagement = civic good.civic excellence+ civic engagement= civic goodThe Civic Cloud.MOVE UP. GET STARTED TODAY.
  21. 21. 20.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENTust as there are “Must Do”moments for citizens, thereare also activities and ser-vices that citizens ought toutilize if they are eligible,such as accessing benefits,participating in elections,attending public events or visiting publicparks and museums. There are also importantopportunities for them to increase their lev-els of civic engagement, like attending townhall meetings to voice their opinions or shar-ing their feedback in a participatory budgetingprocess. In this guide, we refer to these oppor-tunities as “Should Do” moments. So how cangovernment make it easier for citizens to par-ticipate in these “Should Do” points of engage-ment? Below we have identified case studiesand provided some best practices to empowercitizens to become more civically engaged, orto take advantage of government services andresources.“SHOULD DO” MOMENTS
  22. 22. 21. THEGOVLOOPGUIDEOfficials of the City of TakomaPark, Maryland, have trans-formed how their city townhall serves citizens. Not onlyis town hall a place where per-mits are processed, licensesapproved, and parking ticketspaid, but it is also now a socialand recreational hub for thecommunity. City employeesand elected officials are ableto leverage the communitycenter as a way to notify citi-zens about benefits and ser-vices that government offers.“Traditionally, City Hall was astaid place,” said Takoma ParkCity Manager Suzanne Ludlow.“You would come to get cer-tain permits, you would paybills and you would come forcity council meetings.” How-ever, once Ludlow, in partner-ship with city officials and in-terested citizens, expandedthe meaning of town hall byco-locating their city hall anda community center, the newbuilding “became a lot less in-timidating.”The idea to co-locate the com-munity center came about ascity officials witnessed some-thing interesting happeningin the afternoons at their oldcity hall - children hanging outin the hallways after the threenearby schools let out for theday. Officials realized that thecity needed more communityspace for citizens, and espe-cially for children. To createmore community space, thecity secured funding for a newcity hall building that woulddouble as a community center.Today, the city hall includeseverything from traditionalcity hall staples like city coun-cil chambers, notary services,tax and permit offices as wellas non-traditional city hall op-portunities like communityspace for art shows, a multi-use theatre, and recreationaland afternoon programs forkids. Ludlow says that the cityhas seen successful engage-ment and sustained relation-ships through their new cityhall space.“People come in for one reason- say a new family in the areaneeds to get passports for theirkids. They come in and right attheir desk is our recreation guideand they see other kids playingin the game room. The familythinks ‘oh, I need an after schoolprogram’ and then speaks withthe recreation program man-ager.”In the past, this family mayhave just picked up their pass-ports and left, but now thecity is able to leverage thissimple activity to engage withthese people and form last-ing relationships. Ludlow alsomentioned that people en-joy feeling a part of the largercommunity and sharing valu-Transforming Town Hall:How Co-LocatedCommunity Centers WorkWonders
  23. 23. 22.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENTable feedback with city offi-cials. Kids have pitched ideasabout reorganizing the after-school space and adults havehad ideas for new programsthat could be held in the com-munity rooms. The city offi-cials love to receive feedbackfrom residents on how theycan more effectively use thecity hall space.Takoma Park, MD, was able toturn city hall into a “commu-nity hall.” Instead of only goingto city hall for permits and tospeak with government offi-cials, now residents utilize thespace to interact and partici-pate in their community muchmore regularly.Not too far from Takoma Park,MD, another suburb of thenation’s capitol created whatthey call a Neighborhood Re-source Center (NRC). In a col-laborative venture of the Townof Herndon and Fairfax County,for Engagement” as one of thecore building blocks for devel-oping what they call a “sharedcivic infrastructure.” The keyis to make existing hubs –schools, libraries, communitycenters, etc. – more available,more welcoming and morewidely used. Takoma Park didjust that.7 QUESTIONS TO CONSIDERAROUND CO-LOCATIONIf this idea intrigues you oryour organization has begunto explore a potential moveto co-located services, beloware a few questions that mightserve as an initial checklist toidentify opportunities:1. Have you taken an inven-tory of all available propertywithin your geographic pur-view?2. Do you know the relativeVirginia, the NRC hosts a multi-purpose center that offers in-tegrative services to residents.The space includes multipur-pose meeting rooms, a learn-ing center, computer lab andclassrooms. Moreover, thecenter houses a CommunityAssociation Reference Library,which contains information tohelp strengthen communityassociations, and hosts theHerndon Police Department’sCommunity Resources Officewith several crime preventionprograms, such as the Neigh-borhood Watch Program.The key lesson from TakomaPark, MD, and Herndon, VA,is that communities need toidentify existing assets and le-verage them for deeper civicengagement. In fact, a reportby the National League of Cit-ies entitled, Planning for Stron-ger Local Democracy, cites“Buildings That Can HouseCitizen Spaces – Physical Hubs“Takoma Park, MD was able to turncity hall into a ‘community hall.’Instead of only going to city hallfor permits and to speak with gov-ernment officials, now residentsutilize the space to interact andparticipate in their communitymuch more regularly.”
  24. 24. 23. THEGOVLOOPGUIDEHelping citizens realize theyare eligible for benefits andsocial services is one of thecore ways government canempower the “Should Do” mo-ments. There are a number ofcitizens who are eligible to re-ceive government support andservices based on a person’sage, employment, socioeco-nomic status, or health con-dition. Often these citizensfind themselves in vulnerableor challenging circumstanc-es, and government needs towork even harder to ensurethat these individuals receivethe support and services forwhich they are eligible. Thisphenomenon is especially truefor social workers.To gather insights on how gov-ernment might more effective-ly engage some of society’sharder-to-reach citizens, Gov-Loop spoke with Ellen Belluo-mini, a licensed social workerin Michigan.Belluomini sees her job as be-ing a bridge for vulnerablepopulations that may lack ac-cess or representation in adigital world. She urges practi-tioners in the social services torecognize and integrate tech-nology into their practice. Bel-luomini suggested that somesocial services professionalsfeel that they become moredetached from their clients ifthey embrace technology, butshe’s finding new tools to putvaluable resources at her – andtheir – fingertips. Belluominibelieves that now, more thanever, one of the most impor-tant technology touch pointfor social services profession-als to connect with clients isthe use of mobile devices.Belluomini is not alone in herassessment. In an April 2012report from the Pew Internetand American Life Project en-titled, Digital Differences, theHelping the Hard toReach: How Savvy SocialWorkers Build DigitalBridgesnumber of citizens served ateach location?3. Can you use GeographicInformation Systems to mapand visualize the propertiesor citizen traffic and identifytrends?4. Could you consolidate less-visited locations with build-ings that receive higher traffic?5. Are there vacant or unde-rused buildings in strategiclocations in your communitythat could serve as a hub fornew or enhanced engage-ment?6. Are there opportunitiesto coordinate citizen ser-vice delivery among levelsof government (city, county,state, federal) and across func-tional areas (police, communi-ty development, social servic-es, etc.) to maximize impact?7. How can you elicit citizenfeedback at the point of ser-vice?There are a number of waysthat government can consoli-date resources in ways thatboth cut costs and serve citi-zens more efficiently. Co-locat-ing “should do” moments with“must do” moments is just oneof those creative approaches.Engage with ColleaguesTo join the conversation on GovLoop about creative use of public buildings,please visit:How Can Government Get More Creative with Public Buildings?
  25. 25. 24.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENTreport revealed that, “Groupsthat have traditionally beenon the other side of the digitaldivide in basic Internet accessare using wireless connectionsto go online. Among smart-phone owners, young adults,minorities, those with no col-lege experience, and thosewith lower household incomelevels are more likely than oth-er groups to say their phone istheir main source of internetaccess.”Belluomini sees this trend first-hand.“Marginalized populationsuse phones more than otherpeople because their socio-economic status doesn’t al-ways account for having Inter-net access at home.” explainedBelluomini. “But if you have aphone, you have Internet ac-cess everywhere. They don’thave to pay a $1,000 for a com-puter. So we try to create verycommunity specific informa-tion accessible on mobile de-vices.”By encouraging smart invest-ments on technology throughmobile devices, social work-ers can provide clients withimportant information abouttheir benefits, and provide alow-cost way to access the In-ternet.Belluomini believes that gov-ernment is on the leading edgeof app development and hasproduced some remarkableapps. One example Belluominicites is the “PTSD Coach,” a freeapp that provides education,support and tools to help cli-ents manage PTSD. Althoughthis app is especially helpfulfor Veterans, anybody who hasPTSD could use it with theirtherapist.Another Pew report entitled,Teens, Smartphones & Texting,shows the potential for mobiletechnology to engage young-er citizens. The report showsthat 75% of all teens text andthe number of texts per dayhas risen by 20%, just in thelast 3 years.Belluomini sees this trend inher day-to-day interactionswith younger citizens:“Digital natives are learning ata phenomenal rate how to usethis technology,” she said. Bel-luomini suggested that com-munities need to partner withparents to assist in teachingeven young kids what their ac-tions are going to do twentyyears from now – that theyare starting a digital footprintwhich has implications fortheir future.A social worker’s role cutsacross many different demo-graphics. Beyond helpingyouth to understand the prop-er way to leverage technologyto communicate, social work-ers also have the responsibil-ity to educate senior citizens.Whether training seniors on“Marginalized populations use phonesmore than other people because theirsocio-economic status doesn’t alwaysaccount for having Internet access athome. But if you have a phone, you haveInternet access everywhere. They don’thave to pay $1,000 for a computer. Sowe try to create very community spe-cific information accessible on mobiledevices.”- Ellen Belluomini, LCSW, Leader, Educator, Trainer and Blogger at Social WorksDigital Divide
  26. 26. 25. THEGOVLOOPGUIDEhow to use Skype, email, oremerging communicationtools, this is an essential pro-cess to keep senior citizensconnected and to avoid feel-ing isolated.In the end, regardless of ageand demographics, buildingdigital bridges comes down tocitizen education. “When I firstsit down with a client, I do atechnology assessment. I fig-ure out where their strengthsand weaknesses are with tech-nology. If I am working with acommunity, I always work withthem to expand on whateverresources they have by high-lighting certain blogs, or chat-rooms or websites, so that theycan have access to informationoutside of a workshop, confer-ence or consultation,” said Bel-luomini.By focusing on education andaccess, social workers buildvaluable digital bridges forengagement. This is espe-cially true when it comes tothe “should do” moments thatarise for society’s most vulner-able citizens. Below are fourstrategies for communities tobuild digital bridges.4 TACTICS FOR BUILDINGDIGITAL BRIDGES1. Conduct a technology as-sessment with individualsand communities. The Uni-versity of Washington has de-veloped a Digital Literacy SelfAssessment that you can ad-minister to citizens.2. Provide educational re-sources to increase digitalliteracy. Be sure to review thetools at,which are designed to helpteach the basics around vari-ous types of technology.3. Leverage libraries as ac-cess and education points.The American Library Associa-tion has launched the Edge Ini-tiative in order to engage keycommunity stakeholders, andprovide tools and resourcesto assist with eliminating thedigital divide.4. Learn from best practiceshappening across the UnitedStates. From Maine to Missis-sippi to Montana, communi-ties are tackling this toughissue and seeing successfuloutcomes. DigitalLiteracy.govshares dozens of stories andbest practices. Read their sto-ries here.Engage with ColleaguesTo join the conversation around the importance of bridging the digital divide, please go to:Does the Digital Divide Have a Silver Lining?How Would You Recommend Closing the Digital Divide?Social Works Digital Divide Blog
  27. 27. 26.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENTShaping the “Should Do” Moments:4 Core Questions“Should Do” moments are even more plentiful than their “Must Do” counterparts, making itat once easier to identify them and harder to focus your energy. Take a second to think aboutall the services, events, resources and information that you offer and jot them down. Thenask yourself these questions:1. How can we consolidate services and resources to create serendipity and efficienciesthat make people aware of other opportunities to participate in government “should-do” programs?2. How are citizens already revealing their needs by being in places or making requeststhat are consistently out of the ordinary?3. What types of technology or mobile solutions do you need to adopt in order to reachnew audiences (from vulnerable populations to tech-savvy young professionals)?4. As you adopt new technology and mobile approaches to improve citizen services andengagement, who do you need to educate and how can you do that most effectively?By taking a few key actions, you can ensure that “should do” moments become a catalyst forcommunity members to take better advantage of the opportunities you’re offering them.“Should Do” Pivot PointsBUDGETING: Public CommentingEDUCATION: Financial AidENVIRONMENT: Recycling / Waste ReductionHEALTH: Education / InformationINFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: Open Data, WebLIBRARY: Digital Access / Meeting SpacePUBLIC AFFAIRS: Publications / Public TVRECREATION: Events / ActivitiesSOCIAL SERVICES: Child Care / Support, Food & Nutrition, Work AssistanceCan you think of other “should do” moments for citizens?
  28. 28. 27. THEGOVLOOPGUIDEWhat does it mean to be an engaged citizen? In a recent interview with Scott Burns, CEOand co-Founder of GovDelivery (the #1 provider of technology solutions that make it easyfor the public sector to expand digital communication with the public), we gained sev-eral insights into this question. GovDelivery manages millions of communication touchpoints between government and citizens every month and has a unique vantage point onthe issue.Q: What does the term “citizen engagement” mean to you?Burns: “Citizen engagement means different things to different people. Fundamentally, it is about citizensfeeling empowered to connect with and influence their government in order to improve their life, theircommunity, and their country. For some, it’s about participating in online or in-person forums. For others,it’s more passive. My wife, for example, engages on her own terms. She’s a parent, a physician, a caringneighbor, and a responsible and valuable member of the community. Like most citizens, she probablywouldn’t go to a town hall meeting unless something directly impacts her. She makes a very Americandecision to expect the people we elect and those they hire to do their job of managing our government. Ifshe thinks they’re failing or that her involvement will make a positive difference, she’ll get involved; other-wise, she will be an engaged citizen by going about her life the way she does.”Q: What topics are most important to citizens based on their digital subscriptions?Burns: “It’s not that surprising. People’s information needs map very closely to what I imagine are theirpersonal priorities. In all the data passing through our systems, we see topics like health and safety,children and family, money, time, employment, and recreation driving most of the interest in governmentinformation. These are a human’s basic hierarchy of needs. Traditional governance issues, such as citycouncil meetings and press releases, are important, but citizens won’t pay attention to those items unlesstheir more basic needs are met or when policy is affecting them directly.”Q: How do you move them to different levels of engagement?Burns: “Knowing this hierarchy to be true, we need to find the ‘Engagement Upsell’. Think of when yougo into Barnes and Noble - you come in to pick up the latest Harry Potter book for your kid and the storewants to make sure the self-help book is front and center when you enter. This translates to governmentinformation as the snow or earthquake alert could be considered ‘the Harry Potter of government en-gagement’ while engagement around policy is more like ‘the self-help book.’ When a city has an eventthat drives traffic and awareness, such as a snow emergency, they need to make sure they are ‘upselling’citizens on other content that aligns with the strategic priorities of the community.”“It’s pretty easy to encourage someone to sign up for an alert while paying taxes or getting a fishinglicense. However, many government organizations are not compelled to find this ‘upsell opportunity.’GovDelivery is showing our clients how to use technology to drive engagement and initiatives in thisway, with a strong focus on reaching more people as the heart of that strategy. In fact, we’ve completelyshifted our client support to help agencies go even bigger with outreach. Our mission is based on helpinggovernment maximize direct connections with the public– and this focus is really the guiding principle tohelp government to think innovatively around citizen outreach.”To read the full interview, please click here. To learn more about the ways in which GovDelivery drives citizenengagement, please visit: by Email: Finding the “Engagement Upsell” OpportunityAn Interview with Scott Burns, CEO of GovDelivery
  29. 29. 28.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENTNo doubt you’ve heard this countless times. It’s a great goal, but how do you achieve it? What’s thestrategy? How do you implement it?The reality is citizen engagement means different things to different people. Your idea of engagement isdifferent from your neighbor’s and your coworker’s idea.But none of it matters if you’re not reaching your stakeholders. Are you confident you’re reachingthe people you need to, while increasing your digital outreach every day?If your citizen engagement initiatives could benefit from reaching more people, find out how morethan 550 government organizations are using their communications to drive citizen engagement.Watch this short video: for the Year: Citizen Engagement. Go!© GovDelivery 2013
  31. 31. 30.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENT“CAN DO” Momentsometimes citizens need nopush or promotion fromtheir government at all.Sometimes they take mat-ters into their own handsand a city or county feels likethey’re playing catch up orplanning clean up. The key is for governmentto successfully come alongside these construc-tive citizen movements to add the appropriateamount of fuel to their fire. It’s a tricky situa-tion, but a couple communities have learnedsome lessons worth sharing. Their stories arefound in this final section.Enabling CitizenEnergy: HowRaleigh Opens UpOpportunities forInnovationWhat happens when a group of committed citi-zens organizes to inspire and spur innovationin their city?That’s what’s happened in Raleigh, North Car-olina, over the last two years, when a handfulof citizens built a one-time, three-day eventinto a multi-year effort that has led to an “opengovernment” resolution and mobile apps thatmake life better for everyone in the city. If youare hoping to understand the evolution of cityengagement, Raleigh is a great example. Belowis a quick sketch of their story.CITYCAMP RALEIGHIt all started with an interview of Raleigh’s for-mer mayor, Charles Meeker, in February 2011.Jason Hibbets, an active citizen and the com-munity manager for, inter-viewed Mayor Meeker to learn about his visionfor Raleigh as it pertained to technology andopen government. When asked what it meantto be an open city, Mayor Meeker said thatthere were three key ingredients: willingnessto share information, willingness to receive in-formation, and the right attitude to be innova-tive, creative and try new things. He also notedthat, “Citizens need to be willing to adapt tothe future.”Over the next few months, Hibbets and a doz-en other future-oriented citizens organizedRaleigh’s first CityCamp, an unconference de-signed to bring together local government
  32. 32. 31. THEGOVLOOPGUIDEofficials, municipal employ-ees, experts, programmers,designers, citizens, and jour-nalists to share perspectivesand insights about their city.The first CityCamp Raleigh oc-curred in June 2011 and host-ed 200 registrants, 20 spon-sors and 15 speakers for threedays of talks, workshops, andhands-on problem solving, tore-imagine the way the web,applications, technology, andparticipation will shape the fu-ture of their city.In his book, “Open Source Allthe Cities,” Hibbets discuss-es the profile of the originalgroup of citizens and their mo-tivation for leading this initia-tive:“Organizing an unconferencelike CityCamp is easy if you’vegot passionate people withthe right talent, leaders with astrong vision, and the right or-ganizational tools chosen bythe team. Typically, it’s a groupof volunteers who come togeth-er and self-organize into a com-munity of passion.The team that I helped organizedid an awful lot of planning foran unconference. And we faceda big challenge from the start—none of us had ever been to aCityCamp, much less plannedone. Furthermore, none of ushad even been to an unconfer-ence. The desire to improve ourcity with open government,open data, manageable trans-parency, and useful technologyCityCamp Raleigh is an unconference designed to bring together local govern-ment officials, municipal employees, experts, programmers, designers, citizens,and journalists to share perspectives and insights about their city.
  33. 33. 32.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENTTRIANGLE WIKIOne of the CityCamp planningcommittee members, Reid Se-rozi, felt that he’d found otherlike-minded citizens at theevent - he’d “found his tribe.”At the event, Serozi suggestedthat the group should adaptan open source software calledLocalWiki to build a citizen-driven website for the centralNorth Carolina region knownas “The Triangle.” The point ofthe site would be to collectpeople’s knowledge of thearea. From personal perspec-tives on local landmarks toreader reviews of communityevents, Triangle Wiki could be-to bring together city employ-ees, developers, and citizens tocollaborate on solutions drovethe planning team to a success-ful event.”The group worked togetherto get sponsors, speakers, aplace to meet and promotionto potential participants. Theybuilt a website, launched apresence on social media anddeveloped a project plan withweekly milestones to keep themomentum going. They usedFacebook and Google Docs tocommunicate and organize bysubcommittees (marketing,speakers, sponsors, etc.) andmet weekly to hold one anoth-er accountable and sustain theenergy.It’s also worth noting that thegroup included a City Coun-cilor as co-chair and the City ofRaleigh IT Director on the Plan-ning Committee. Their pres-ence offered a bit of politicalsavvy to the team, but Hibbetsnoted, “If this was run by a citydepartment, I don’t think wewould have pulled the three-day event off with less than12 weeks of planning. The redtape would have been impos-sible to cut through.” It wasthe combination of both pas-sionate citizens and commit-ted public servants that madeCityCamp a success.Of course, CityCamp isn’t justabout meeting and talking,though these are importantingredients. CityCamp is de-signed with a default to ac-tion. Here are four things youcan do now if you like the ideaof CityCamp and want to getinvolved:Join the online community: a Meetup: http://w w CityCamp toyour local officials (bothcareer and elected govern-ment)Start-a-Camp: more info, visit: more info, visit:
  34. 34. 33. THEGOVLOOPGUIDEcity” posters and taking pic-tures around the Triangle andsharing them on social media.”The beauty of Triangle Wiki isthat anyone can contribute- participants don’t need tohave any special knowledgeof working with code. Theyjust need to have an interest intheir community and an abil-ity to share what they know intheir niche. If you are interested in learn-ing more, please visit Local-Wiki.orgCODE FOR AMERICABRIGADEThe most recent evolution inRaleigh’s citizen engagementendeavors is the formation ofcome the hub for “unofficial”information about the city.Serozi launched the wiki by in-vitation only to a small groupof citizens who started build-ing out pages, getting a headstart on content, learning thesoftware and working out anyunexpected issues that couldslow down the process. Oneof the real keys to its early suc-cess was the Triangle Wiki Day,which was hosted in February2012 where around 50 peopleworked side by side to pro-duce dozen of pages of con-tent in a day. The event servedas the website’s soft launch and includeda keynote from Raleigh CityCouncilor Mary Ann Baldwin,lending official support to theendeavor. At-large Raleigh CityCouncilor Russ Stephensonand Raleigh Planning DirectorMitchell Silver also attendedthe event in a show of supportfrom local government.Within 30 days from Trian-gle Wiki Day, the site topped1,000 pages of content andcontinues to grow over time.The group has hosted sev-eral other content sprints andedit parties over the ensuingmonths, and even started aregular newsletter, in orderto foster ongoing energy andenthusiasm for the project. “Inlate 2012, the group startedan awareness campaign called“Edit your city.” Individualsfrom the Triangle Wiki com-munity are creating “Edit youra partnership with Code forAmerica to create a “Brigade”- a group of passionate localcitizens committed to makinga difference by gathering civicdata, hosting events like hack-athons and unconferences,and, ultimately, standing upapps.Code for Raleigh’s first projectwas an Adopt-A-Shelter webapplication that instantly dis-plays the adoption status ofall city bus shelters. Think ofit like the “adopt-a-highway”programs - only moving theprocess to a digital landscapein order to see quickly wherethere’s a need for new citizenadoptions.In a blog post announcing theapp, Raleigh’s transit admin-istration David Eatman, said“It’s an interactive way for resi-
  35. 35. 34.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENTdents to see which bus sheltershave been adopted. We are de-lighted that citizens from Codefor Raleigh have stepped up tooffer this technical resource toencourage participation in thisCity program.”If you have a group of commit-ted citizens in your communityand would like to help themstart a Brigade, you may learnmore at RALEIGH’SSUCCESS: 6 IDEAS TOSPARK INNOVATIONPerhaps the most importantlessons from Raleigh are thatthis kind of success is bothreplicable and sustainable. Ifyou’d like to set up a similarscenario in your city, here are afew questions to ask yourself:1. Who are the most activecitizens / groups in your com-munity?2. Is there an active develop-er community that regularlyhosts hackathons or works in acommon space?3. Who are the key local gov-ernment leaders - both careeremployees and elected gov-ernment officials - that wouldbe energized by such a ven-ture? (Note: they don’t haveto be IT people, though thathelps!)4. What objectives or proj-ects in your strategic plan-ning documents could gainstrength and momentum withgreater citizen involvement -or could benefit from a web-based or mobile application?5. What public datasets arereadily available? What otherdatasets can be made avail-able after working to cleanthem up?6. Are there any smaller proj-ects that serve as low-hang-ing fruit - a paper-based orother outdated process thatcould be transitioned to an on-line medium?These are six questions to getyou thinking about opportu-nities to leverage citizen en-ergy that spurs innovation andhelps the overall community,building on the dedication ofa committed few.Engage with ColleaguesTo join the conversation about opening up to innovation, please go to:Challenging Local Leaders to Engage and Empower CitizensUnderstanding Local Government Innovation and How It Spreads
  36. 36. 35. THEGOVLOOPGUIDEOn average, the city of Bostonsees 32 inches of snow eachwinter. That means Bostoniansare stuck shoveling more than2.5 feet of snow from theirdriveways, stoops and side-walks each time the thermo-stat dips below 32 degrees.That is an enormous task forthe fit and healthy - but whatif you are elderly, sick or dis-abled, and you can’t physicallyshovel?A healthy community is onethat lifts up and empowers oth-ers to action, and helps neigh-bors in times of need – espe-cially when needs fall outsideof traditional government ser-vices. That’s where citizen-ledefforts like SnowCrew comein. The Boston-based onlineplatform connects snowed inpeople with neighbors willingto help shovel them out.“SnowCrew started after I heardthe story of Mayor Corey Book-er,” said Joseph Porcelli, a formerBostonian and Director of Gov-Delivery’s Engagement Servicesdivision. “Someone tweeted himthat his dad couldn’t get out ofhis driveway after a big snow-storm hit New Jersey. The Mayorasked where the guy lived, andshowed up and dug him out. Ithought ‘that is awesome.’ Be-cause he had so much influenceon Twitter other people showedup to help dig this guy out. I re-alized I could do that, too. Thatis how SnowCrew started.”But Porcelli quickly realizedthat one person alone couldonly do so much.“I didn’t want to become a bot-tleneck where everyone had tocome through me to get help. SoI started looking at ways to usetechnology to get other peopleinvolved. We are currently, which allowspeople who are elderly, sick ordisabled to fill out a requestform online asking help shovel-ing. People who live near themget notified that they need help.The portal also includes a mapof the locations. We can alsosend out a mass message ask-ing from volunteers around thecity.”SnowCrew has been clearingsnow for three years now. Theprogram has been a big suc-cess. Porcelli says last winteralone he and his crew wereable to dig out more than 60homes.With a program as success-ful as SnowCrew, you wouldimagine that the city wouldwant to be involved, but Por-celli says the city faces somemajor legality issues. “The cityloves what we are doing withSnowCrew, but they can’t havethe request form on their sitefor liability reasons. Think of itthis way: if a volunteer is outshoveling and accidentallydings a person’s car, who is li-able? The city. Or if a personfalls while shoveling, the city isliable. They can’t take that risk.”SnowCrew isn’t the only pro-gram that Porcelli and his teamof other volunteers are workingon. They’ve also created Neigh-bors for Neighbors, which wasfounded in 2004 with a simplegoal: connect people who live,work, and serve in the sameneighborhood and city, andprovide tools for them to com-municate and to collaboratearound common interests. Theonline platform includes morethan 200 groups that addresseverything from crime preven-tion techniques to tree plant-ing committees.Mobilizing a Movement:How Online CommunityConnects Neighbors inNeed
  37. 37. 36.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENT 36.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENTIf you’re looking to start yourown online community thatbridges neighbors online andin-person, consider thesethree steps below.3 WAYS TO SPUR CITIZEN-LED INITIATIVES LIKESNOWCREW OR NEIGHBORSFOR NEIGHBORS1. Connect people that careabout a common cause or in-terest. You know the citizensthat show up for similar eventsand activities. Can you set upan online community for themto join so that they can buildand sustain relationships be-tween in-person meetings?2. When citizens reach out toyou for constructive activi-ties, help them! Make thempart of the team. Citizens haveexpertise on a variety of issues.Tap into that energy and givethem the resources they needto serve each other more ef-fectively.3. Give citizens small ac-tions that can be completelyquickly or easily. Compensatefor people not having enoughtime, confidence, skill, tools orthe support to be dedicatedfull-time. Identify those micro-actions that they can take andstill make a difference whencombined with the micro-ac-tions of many others.When citizens decide to or-ganize in these “can do” mo-ments, government can be apowerful partner that buildsupon their efforts and accom-plishes far more than eitherentity can do alone.Engage with ColleaguesTo join the conversation about citizen-led initiatives, please go to:Dealing With Legal Issues Around Online Moderation PolicyEngaging Citizens Through Established ConversationsHow Can We Improve Citizen Engagement Initiatives? Here Are 5 Ways
  38. 38. 37. THEGOVLOOPGUIDEJust as we began this guidetalking about taxes, we endwith an example of creativebudgeting that is occurring incommunities across the Unit-ed States – instances wherecitizens have decided thatthey “can do” something aboutthe budget priorities that areimportant to them even whengovernment is not using theirtax money to do so.Politicians and public servantsface tough decisions when itcomes to allocating tax dol-lars - and not everything that’sworthwhile can make the cut.That’s why states and citiescreate apps and web-basedportals where citizens can takea crack at running the num-bers for themselves. Of course,that’s just one way to getcitizens involved in tacklingtough budget situations. Oncecitizens understand that noteverything can be funded withlimited resources, how can lo-cal governments engage themin the process of prioritizingthose projects when facedwith budget shortfalls?Unlike the current method ofholding a public hearing aboutthe local budget, which nor-mally sees very low citizen in-volvement, communities mustget creative in how they en-gage citizens in governmentaldecisions. That’s where crowd-funding comes into play.One particular example ofcrowdfunding is with Citiz-investor, a site dedicated toconnecting citizen ideas totheir governments. Citizenscan pitch ideas about variouslocal projects from new dogparks to renovating a historichotel, and then pledge to sup-port the funding out of theirown pocket beyond the taxesthey already pay. Essentially,a group of citizens can mo-bilize and engage with theirlocal government to provideservices and projects that arewanted but may not be fund-able through the city’s budget.Local governments partnerwith Citizinvestor, at no cost,and encourage them to usethe platform as a way to revealbudget priorities and openup opportunities for citizensto lead the charge in gettingmoney for what matters tothem. A petition is formedonce a citizen submits a proj-ect and once a petition reachesa threshold of signatures, thecrowdfunding begins and thelocal government is contactedto assist moving forward. It’simportant that municipalitiesbecome partners with Citizin-vestor because then programscan be verified and donationsare eligible for tax-deductiblestatus.Municipalities have receivedthese petitions and crowd-funded projects with excite-ment. City officials haveseen lines of communicationopened between their resi-dents and collaborated withthem to provide what theywant. For example, a citizenin Florida noticed the need fora dog park in their neighbor-hood. After successfully get-ting the required number ofsignatures, a meeting was es-tablished within 48 hours withthe city council and then be-came invested in crowdfund-ing the money to build thisnew park.Overcoming BudgetConstraints: HowCrowdfundingSupplements TightBudgets
  39. 39. 38.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENTTony Mulkey, Standards Coor-dinator for the City of TampaParks and Recreation, says thisin regards to the dog park pe-tition:“Our experience with this plat-form is new, but we can see thepossibilities for better commu-nication with the community.With the Seminole Heights dogpark petition, we had alreadyknown about the desire aboutthe project through requestsmade through other means.The petition definitely helps thecommunity come together todeliver a more unified messageto the department. We havescheduled a community meet-ing to pursue the matter fur-ther.”This is a clear example of an in-novative way for governmentsto engage citizens, especiallythose citizens who are alreadymotivated to better their com-munity.What makes the crowdfund-ing method stronger than anindividual citizen who tries toget city hall to take an action isthe ability to show communitysupport. An additional benefitis the low risk nature of theplatform - unless a project isfully funded, the contributorsdo not pay.Crowdfunding is not the onlyway to gauge and implementcitizen opinions – nor shouldit stand alone as a tool to edu-cate citizens about budgeting.Some state and local govern-ments are engaging and en-couraging citizen involvementin the budget process in differ-ent ways. Hampton, Virginia,with a population of 138,000,hosts 800-person live eventswith keypad polling, telephonesurveys, and traditional townhall meetings. In Seattle, WA,an interactive online game isused to gauge public supporton spending areas like publicsafety and human services.Similarly, the state of NorthCarolina engaged their resi-dents through an interactivegame challenging them to“Balance the Budget.” The goalof these activities is to makethe public understand thecomplexity of budgeting andthe tradeoffs that policymak-ers encounter, and to providefeedback on budgeting priori-ties to government officials.When citizens take action andgovernment cooperates, ei-ther through crowdfunding orby grappling with and givingFor more information, visit:
  40. 40. 39. THEGOVLOOPGUIDEfeedback on budgets, thereis potential for local govern-ments to further engage thecitizens and exercise creativ-ity in the ways it accomplishescommunity priorities.6 STEPS TO STARTING ACROWDFUNDING INITIA-TIVEWhat if you want to test theconcept of crowdfunding? Be-low are six steps, adapted fromthe Crowdfunding Incubator,that your organization can useto help citizens make the casefor their preferred projects.1. Create a clear BusinessPlan Summary: Cover the ba-sics and keep it short. It shouldbe brief enough that it couldbe completely presented orread (either on a website,slideshow or PowerPoint) inless than 10 minutes. Sectionheadings might include:Project OverviewProblem, Challenge or NeedProposed SolutionPromotion, Education, Out-reachEngage with ColleaguesTo join the conversation around crowdfunding, please go to:Can Governments Crowdfund (Some of the Time) Rather Than Tax?Project Leaders, Partnersand AdvisorsProject Time LineApplication of Proceeds(minimal funding and“dream come true”)Project Summary2. Identify all of the keystakeholders. Brainstorm allof the possible people in thecommunity that would ex-perience an impact from theproject – positive or negative.Make a list of individuals andassociations, then prioritizethem based on size and influ-ence.3. Conduct strategic out-reach to influencers. Basedon your prioritized list, be sureto start from the top and workyour way down. As you shareyour plan, ask for ideas andconnections.4. Instill a sense of urgency.If you can, design your crowd-funding program such thatyou have a relatively shorttime to raise your tiny mini-mum, and that subscriptionremains open after that pointto some wonderful maximum.Remember Parkinson’s law:“Work expands so as to fill thetime available for its comple-tion.” This adage is true for ev-ery endeavor with a timeline.5. Give contributors vary-ing levels of participation.Don’t leave the giving amountopen-ended. Offer clear choic-es at differing levels. Greateramounts should, theoretically,get greater rewards than con-tributors of smaller amounts.6. Create a competitive envi-ronment. Is there a way thatyou can get neighborhoodsor associations to pool theirresources and compare them-selves against other groups?Consider leveraging the powerof gaming in order to buildmomentum and foster friendlycompetition.In austere budget environ-ments, crowdfunding createsone more “can do” momentthat puts purchasing powerback in the hands of citizens.When done in partnership withgovernment organizations aspart of prioritization and plan-ning process, the impact on acommunity can be substantial.
  41. 41. 40.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENTCollaborating With “Can Do” Moments:4 Core Questions“Can Do” moments may be hard to spot if citizens don’t deliberately make you aware of them.Be intentional about looking for local news stories to see what citizen-led initiatives are mak-ing waves. Once you identify something where you have official information or resources, askyourself these questions:1. How can we leverage our communications reach to help citizens spread the word andbuild momentum for movements that advance key government initiatives?2. What resources have we already created that can contribute to educational or promo-tional activities led by citizens?3. What bandwidth do we have to send staff members, as appropriate, to participate inevents or activities that build goodwill and lend our moral support?4. How can we educate citizens about political or policy hurdles that could hinder theirprogress, and help them avoid or overcome those potential pitfalls?The biggest opportunity for government in a “can do” moment is to educate, support and col-laborate. This is a unique chance for government to establish trust and stand shoulder to shoul-der with citizens, demonstrating that we’re all, in essence, citizens striving to make our com-munities better. Don’t miss that moment.“Can Do” Pivot PointsEDUCATION: Tutoring / MentoringENVIRONMENT: Community Clean UpHEALTH: Exercise EventsINFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: HackathonsPUBLIC AFFAIRS: Volunteer EventsRECREATION: Coaching / TeachingCan you think of other “can do” moments for citizens?
  42. 42. 41. THEGOVLOOPGUIDELet’s return to our original question:What’s the point of citizenengagement?Based on the seven stories above, it’s clear thatevery moment – whether it’s “must do”, “shoulddo” or “can do” – provides an opportunity tostreamline government and move citizens toa new level of meaningful engagement in theprocess. From placing refund information atthe fingertips of taxpayers to empowering citi-zens to open their pocketbooks for municipalprojects that are important to them, there’sno end to the number of innovative ways thatgovernment can make life better for the citi-zens they’re called to serve.So how do you get started?Consider the recommendations of a reportby the Case Foundation called, Citizens at theCenter: A New Approach to Civic Engagement:1. SHIFT THE FOCUS.Instead of asking how to encourage civic en-gagement, consider the best ways to give peo-ple opportunities to define and solve problemsthemselves.2. START YOUNG.Don’t wait till high school to begin developingthe basic skills that young people will need tobe effective problem-solvers.3. INVOLVE ALL COMMUNITY INSTITU-TIONS.Engage faith-based organizations, schools,businesses, and government agencies in pub-lic deliberation and problem-solving.S U M M A R Y
  43. 43. 42.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENT4. USE TECHNOLOGY TO CREATE A NEWKIND OF “PUBLIC COMMONS.”Leverage technology’s power to encourage, fa-cilitate, and increase citizen-centered dialogue,deliberation, organizing, and action around awide variety of issues.5. EXPLORE AND CREATE NEW MECHA-NISMS.Don’t assume that traditional venues like townhall meetings are sufficient to truly get differ-ent types of people to engage and share per-spectives. Look at where people are alreadyinteracting (such as neighborhood organiza-tions, schools, and workplaces) and considerother approaches, structures, and venues.6. CONDUCT RIGOROUS RESEARCH ABOUTWHAT WORKS AND WHY.While considerable research has been con-ducted on the levels of volunteering, voting,community service, and political participation,there is a need for more evaluation about themotivating forces behind such behaviors -- andwhat approaches are effectively solving com-munity problems.7. ENCOURAGE MORE FUNDING FOR THESEAPPROACHES.Many funders may be reluctant to supportlong-term, local efforts, preferring to supportbigger initiatives with a more immediate “pay-off.” Attracting more funding will require dem-onstrating the concrete results of local delib-eration and action.8. HELP COMMUNITIES MOVE FROM DE-LIBERATION TO ACTION.Deliberation should serve as a means to theend of communities being able to take actioncollectively in ways that reap results they cansee and experience.This advice certainly reinforces the stories andadvice shared in this guide, and we look for-ward to hearing about your own stories of in-novating at the point of citizen engagement.Please take a minute to share them on Gov-Loop should you seize a moment to make a dif-ference in your community.
  44. 44. 43. THEGOVLOOPGUIDEA C K O W L E D G E M N T SWe would like to thank the following individu-als who were interviewed for this guide:Ellen Belluomini, LCSW, Leader, Educator, Trainerand Blogger at Social Works Digital DivideMaury Blackman, CEO, AccelaScott Burns, CEO, GovDeliverySuzanne Ludlow, City Manager, Takoma Park,MarylandTony Mulkey, Standards Coordinator, City of Tam-pa Parks and RecreationJoseph Porcelli, Founder, Neighbors for Neigh-bors and Director, GovDelivery and GovLoop Engage-ment ServicesJordan Raynor, Co-Founder, CitizinvestorMike Silvia, Director of Online Experience and Op-erations Management, Internal Revenue ServiceWe would also like to acknowledge the effortsof the following members of the GovLoop teamwho contributed to the guide’s development:Lead Writer: Andrew Krzmarzick, GovLoop Direc-tor of Community EngagementWriter: Emily Jarvis, GovLoop Online ProducerWriter: Bryce Bender, GovLoop Graduate FellowLead Designer: Jeff Ribeira, GovLoop Senior Inter-active DesignerDesigner: Carrie Moeger, GovLoop Design FellowEditor: Steve Ressler, GovLoop Founder and Presi-dentEditor: Pat Fiorenza, GovLoop Senior Research Ana-lystFor more information on this guide, pleasecontact Andrew Krzmarzick, at
  45. 45. 44.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENTGovLoop’s mission is to connect government toimprove government. We aim to inspire publicsector professionals by acting as the knowl-edge network for government. The GovLoopcommunity has over 65,000 members work-ing to foster collaboration, solve problems andshare resources across government.The GovLoop community has been widelyrecognized across multiple sectors. GovLoopmembers come from across the public sector.Our membership includes federal, state, andlocal public servants, industry experts and pro-fessionals grounded in academic research. To-day, GovLoop is the leading site for addressingpublic sector issues.A B O U T G O V L O O PLocationGovLoop is headquartered in Washington D.C.,with a team of dedicated professionals whoshare a commitment to connect and improvegovernment.GovLoop734 15th St NW, Suite 500Washington, DC 20005Phone: (202) 407-7421Fax: (202) 407-7501GovLoop works with top industry partners toprovide resources and tools to the governmentcommunity. GovLoop has developed a varietyof guides, infographics, online training andeducational events, all to help public sectorprofessionals become more efficient Civil Ser-vants.GovLoop’s report, Innovating at the Point ofCitizen Engagement: Making Every MomentCount is sponsored by Accela and GovDelivery.If you have questions on this report, please feelfree to reach out to Andrew Krzmarzick, Gov-Loop Director of Community Engagement
  46. 46. 45. THEGOVLOOPGUIDER E S O U R C E SGENERALGovLoop Citizen Engagement a Comprehensive Digital Government Strategy the Promise of GIS for Government Customer Service in Government Social Media Experiment in Government: Elements of Excellence Citizen Engagement
  47. 47. 46.GOVERNMENTCITIZENENGAGEMENTTalk to Me: Dr. Ted R. Smith on Engaging Citizens through Established Conversations Citizens Really Want on Your Website to Engage with Gov 101 - with Gavin Newsom Kinds of Government Open Data: Ready, Easy and Hard Tips on Building Meaningful Online Engagement Award Winning Site Increases Accessibility and Expands Audience Engagement and Open Innovation: Engaging Stakeholders in 2012 Risk via Twitter Competitions Redux: TopCoder and the Power of Crowdsourcing Can We Improve Citizen Engagement Initiative? Here’s 5 Ways. to Get Citizens to Dig Each Other Out After a Snow Storm The Promise of GIS for Government: Citizen Engagement Civic Engagement and Civic Tech Government: A Time for Self-Assessment (White House) Hires First Ever Director of Civic Technology Impact of Mobile on Citizen Engagement’s the Status of Gov 2.0? Expert Panel Weighs In
  48. 48. 47. THEGOVLOOPGUIDE734 15th St NW, Suite 500Washington, DC 20005Phone: (202) 407-7421Fax: (202) 407-7501