December 8, 2021
The programs and rules that affect Americans' daily lives and security are profoundly shaped by the regulatory and rule-making process within the Executive Branch of government. While federal regulation touches thousands of issues, from employment rights to environmental health, the process of creating these regulations is shrouded in bureaucratic mystery, disconnected from Americans' daily experiences, and rarely covered outside specialized media.The Biden-Harris administration has sought to broaden the role of public engagement in the process of government decision-making, with a particular focus on equity. In January of this year, the administration issued two Executive Orders (EOs) that called for modernizing regulatory rule-making and for advancing equity. In November, the administration put forth a management vision which includes three priority areas for building a more equitable, effective, and accountable Federal Government. One priority area is to improve the design of services and provide digital access in ways that reduce burdens, address inequities, and streamline processes.A key source of expertise on improving public engagement and informing execution of the EOs and the management vision are local leaders and organizers who, in cooperation with state and local government, have developed and tested more effective and equitable methods of participation. Local organizers, deeply rooted in the challenges and experiences of their communities, possess distinctive expertise. They offer not only illustrative examples of best engagement practices, but also approaches to designing processes that engage diverse communities effectively. These insights and practices include building concrete feedback loops into participatory processes, incorporating continuous consultation and engagement, and identifying ways to promote transparency and inclusion into the review process.