Public meetings should be a normal, designated function of legislators and executive level officials. The main objectives of public meetings are (a) to impart information, and (b) probably more importantly, to solicit the views of the public on issues of importance to the local government. Solicitation of views is one of the means of drawing the public into the planning process. It is therefore important that these views be sought at the earliest possible juncture in the deliberations about a particular issue. It is also true, however, that public response tends to be limited in sectors or on issues which citizens feel dont concern them directly.
Public meetings serve the following purposes:
- To ensure better flow of information from public officials to citizens, especially about important decisions affecting them, and facilitate direct participation of stakeholders in local governance.
- To enable follow-up and public scrutiny of actions taken by public officials/ government authorities, thereby increasing accountability.
- To foster better relationships between governments/local authorities and citizens.
Linkage to Transparency
The process of making available information to the general public whether voluntarily or as a result of legal obligations is a testimony of a transparent government. Consequently, an informed citizenry is capacitated to better advocate for accountability of public officials on their conduct and on decisions made on matters affecting the public such as service delivery.
How it Works The Key Elements
Key elements that contribute to use of public meetings as an effective tool for improving transparency include:
The Issue A concise summary of the issue under deliberation.
An Agenda A clear outline of the structure and proposed agenda of the meeting.
Setting dates Dates must be set well in advance.
Key Persons in attendance The key actors, local and/or national government officials must be informed of the meeting and their participation ensured.
Public notification of the meeting dates and agenda including through print and electronic media, as well as the web.
Options for the public The stakeholders must be given the option to provide written comments by post/ fax or e-mail in case they are not able to attend.
Contacts for further information on the scheduled public meeting.
City/ State Examples
Wisconsin Natural Resources Department: Listing of Public Meetings
Further information and contacts
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources,
01 S Webster St., P.O. Box 7921, Madison, Wisconsin 53707-7921, USA.
Tel: +1-608-266-2621, Fax: +1-608-261-4380,