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62 Aircraft Noise: A Toolkit for Managing Community Expectations Study Findings Factors contributing to the changing approach to public involvement in surface transportation include: Federal Mandates: the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) and the Transportation Equity Act for the 23rd Century (TEA-21) mandated emphasis on early, proactive, and sustained citizen input into transportation decision making and special outreach for traditionally underserved populations. A 30 year trend of empowerment of groups and individuals toward having a voice in policy decisions that affect them and their communities. Codification of the lessons learned in the 1970s and 1980s as a result of rapid social change and complexity of modern life, "lessons that many transportation agencies learned after the fact from project delays, lawsuits, and public outcry about transportation decisions made without citizen input". (13, p. 1) The White Paper states that there is "general agreement that a well-conceived and well- implemented public involvement program can bring major benefits to the transportation policy process and lead to better decision outcomes." Some of the beneficial outcomes suggested are: Public ownership of policies/sustainable and supportable decisions; Decisions that reflect community values; Efficient implementation of transportation decisions; and Enhanced agency credibility; The White Paper reports further that, The process of public involvement often transforms agency culture by forcing agency decision makers to interact with their constituents. As a result, transportation stakeholders develop a better understand- ing of agency operations, and agency officials have a better understanding of public thinking. This mutual education improves the agency's relationship with the public. (13, p. 2) The following sections report the Committee's considerations regarding the best practices for public communications within the surface transportation industry. What is Good Practice? Key objectives of good public involvement practice revolve around outcomes and include: To build consensus on the path to decision. "In exchange for participation in a fair and open process, citizens often are willing to support the outcome of the process even if their preferred alternative is not selected." To inform citizens about transportation issues, projections, the planning process, and budg- etary and engineering constraints To incorporate citizen input into the decision process. "The decision-making process must be open and clear and must reflect citizen input." (13, p. 3) The White Paper identifies guiding principles for a successful public involvement program as follows: Distinguish public involvement from public relations and public information. "A public information campaign is a form of one-way communication between the agency and the public, generally striving to inform the public about ongoing issues or developments. Public relations programs usually involve the dissemination of information, but their empha- sis is on the promotion of a particular policy or solution--selling a fait accompli." (13, p. 3)