Deliberative Democracy in Action: Exploring the 2012 City of Austin Bond Development Process
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This applied research project aims to accomplish three things. First, this study identifies key components of an effective deliberative process. Second, it explores the City of Austin's efforts at public engagement by determining whether these key components were present in the 2012 Austin bond development process deliberations, and finally, this paper utilizes these findings to provide recommendations to better engage Austin citizens in meaningful future deliberations. Scholarly deliberative democracy literature was reviewed to identify three key components of an effective deliberative exercise. These key features are an appropriate mix of participants, appropriate issue, and an appropriate deliberative structure. Interviews were conducted and documents were analyzed to determine whether these key elements were present in the City of Austin's 2012 bond development process. The research findings indicated that while the City's deliberative exercises exhibited some of the key elements of an effective deliberation, some elements were not evident. This study makes several recommendations of ways to better engage citizens in future deliberations. The City of Austin is advised that it should work to engage a sample that is more representative of the community at large, should utilize a trained facilitator for future task force deliberations and technological connections to the deliberations should be made available for citizens.