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The City of Portland, Oregon

Community & Civic Life

Promote the common good

Main: 503-823-4519

City/County Info: 503-823-4000

TDD: 503-823-6868

1120 SW 5th Ave, Suite 114, Portland, OR 97204

Assessing Public Engagement Effectiveness


"Typically, cities and counties devote a great deal of time and effort to the planning and delivery of public engagement processes. However, given the press of daily responsibilities, local officials often spend relatively little time assessing how these processes worked for the local agency and the community.

The assessment of local agency-sponsored public engagement is important as it enables local officials and others to gauge participant satisfaction, identify lessons learned, and make refinements and improvements in future efforts. These assessments can be helpful for public engagement efforts that are developed and delivered directly by a local agency as well as when they are managed and facilitated by consultants."

The Institute for Local Government has created a resource that can help local government officials assess their public involvement process, as well as guide improvements. These worksheets compare information from both participants and those local officials involved in the public engagement process. 

Find the Institute for Local Government's Rapid Review Worksheets here.

Rapid Review Worksheet


Five Strategies to Revive Civic Communication



Promoting greater civic engagement and investing in the capacity of community members to engage with civic information and one another to solve public problems are among the recommendations made by the Knight Commission. Civic Engagement and Community Information: Five Strategies to Revive Civic Communication, a new policy paper by Peter Levine, calls on community and elected leaders to adopt sensible strategies to strengthen civic communication and citizen engagement.

Read this report here:


Planning for Stronger Local Democracy: A Field Guide for Local Officials



This National League of Cities tool kit is designed to assist city leaders in strengthening local democracy by cultivating a culture with their citizens and key allies that is transparent and inclusive with shared responsibilities and mutual accountability for addressing and solving problems.

Learn practical strategies that lead to a stronger local democracy. Part 1, Key Questions to Ask About How to Engage the Public, guides you through an examination of the strengths, weaknesses and history of the citizen-government relationship in cities. It includes models of practices from pioneering city leaders, their staff and democratic governance practitioners from around the country. Part 2, Developing Shared Civic Infrastructure, lays out a collaborative process for constructing a better framework for public engagement.  


Wheel vs. Ladder - how do you view levels of public participation?


Traditionally, the levels of public participation have been viewed as a ladder.  From "Inform" being one of the lowest rungs on the ladder to "Empower" or "Decide" being the highest rung of the ladder.

This article challenges the concept of the ladder and proposes a wheel of participation.  Each quadrant breaks out in even more detailed levels from "minimal communication" to "good quality information" and provides examples of what each of these levels looks like.  Take a look!