Can US Learn Civic Participation Lessons from UK?

Here’s an interesting piece from InvolveUK’s Edward Andersson about the relative progress the national governments of Great Britain and the US have made towards greater public participation. Interestingly, much of the good the UK Government has done in this area has been supporting local government efforts: “I think the UKs real strength lies in institutionalizing engagement. We didn’t invent participatory budgeting, nor are we the best at using the method, but it is only in England that participatory budgeting is actively promoted from the centre with ministerial support, a dedicated capacity building unit and financial and status incentives for local authorities to adopt the process.”

Still, there remains, what Andersson calls an “Empowerment gap” in the UK. In this essay, Andersson suggests five ways the Obama administration may avoid some of the UK’s mistakes in this enterprise, including training public officials and “being honest” about what the purpose and results of civic engagement projects.

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