6. Additional recommendations and tools

Additional recommendations

1. Create a community

There are people in many different roles across government whose job includes managing civic engagement processes. Create a community of these employees so you can create standards for engagement across government and so they can share what they’ve learned about best practices, tools, and past results.

2. Iterate, iterate, iterate

Agile project management is a way of managing projects that uses data to make decisions and regularly making changes to improve effectiveness. Many engagement processes fail because an approach is decided entirely before the process begins. When participation doesn’t match expectations or goals it becomes very hard to change direction. By using an iterative or agile approach, you can make regular changes to your plan based on what the data tells you is most effective. This is why setting baselines and goals at the start of your project is important, as well as ongoing data collection, so you can understand what works and what doesn’t. You can find more about how to use agile management in government here.

More useful tools

  • MuniciPal: a tool developed by Code for America Fellows in partnership with the City of Mesa, AZ in 2014. It surfaces public decisions, based on geography and allows residents to give feedback on. (Access the code base)
  • SimpliCity: a tool developed by the City of Asheville, NC to help residents understand all the things -- from zoning to crime -- happening in a resident’s interest area. (Access the code base)
  • RecordTrac: a website that streamlines the public record request process for both requestors and government staffers. Its use of transparency around the request fulfillment process is a good example of how technology can encode and automate feedback loops. (Access the code base)

All of these tools are available for use by any government.