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11 committees included members with a variety of viewpoints ing with agendas and serving as an external spokesperson. with some at-large members, some community organization In response to another question about facilitation, about 70% representatives, and some interest group representatives. of respondents said that staff members, often with specific expertise in facilitation, facilitated committee meetings. Many advisory committees, even those composed pri- This suggests that even when a chairperson has responsibili- marily of community members, included agency staff or ties for meeting management, facilitation is supported by a elected officials. More than 60% included staff and more staff person. than one-third included elected officials, most as full vot- ing members. Most agencies or MPOs that included staff Committees operated with varying levels of autonomy or elected officials reported positive outcomes. Those that and influence over discussion topics, development of rec- included staff or elected officials noted that the range of ommendations, and communication with decision makers. perspectives improved discussions and that elected officials Some committees, often standing committees, selected and staff developed a better understanding of community their own agenda items, ran their own meetings, selected perspectives. Several agencies noted that including elected new members, and developed their own recommendations officials with community members allowed elected officials with limited staff participation. For example, the Baltimore to build trust and relationships. Those who had negative Regional Transportation Board (BRTB) CAC collaborates experiences noted that including elected officials politicized online to develop committee reports with limited agency discussions and reduced the opportunity for community support using Google Docs, a free online tool. members to be heard. Some agencies did not include staff or elected officials on advisory committees because they were included in other committees such as steering committees, Committee Responsibilities and Decision technical advisory committees, or management teams that Making had formal interactions with advisory committees. About half of the committees were assigned a charge (a for- Eighty percent of groups included fewer than 20 members mal statement of role and responsibilities) by either staff or and most committees had 10 to 15 members. More than 10% decision makers (e.g., a board of directors or elected offi- of committees included more than 25 members. A few com- cials). A few agencies submitted bylaws or charters for com- mittees were extremely large and had more than 30 members. mittees along with the questionnaire. Most of these charges The larger groups were no more or less likely to be effective or bylaws established the committee composition, member than smaller groups. Most standing committee members had responsibilities, and reporting relationships. One respondent indeterminate appointments. Observations show that larger noted that a well-defined committee structure and protocols advisory committees are more complex to manage logisti- effectively supported consensus building. cally, are more resource intensive, and require more sophisti- cated facilitation skills to be effective. There are good reasons Charges take many forms, from statements of purpose for establishing larger committees, particularly when a com- informally developed by staff to formal statements dictated mittee is considering a complex topic that would benefit from by agency bylaws or operating rules. Examples of charge discussion that reflects a large number of distinct viewpoints. statements submitted by survey respondents include the following: Committee Operations "This committee shall be an advisory committee to the Board of Directors on policy matters relative to trans- Protocols or ground rules are often established at the com- portation services and facilities affecting the District" mittee's first meeting. Among survey respondents, more than (Yolo County Transit District Bylaws). three-quarters reported defining protocols at the beginning "The goal of this policy is to help SamTrans (San of the process and most responded that the protocols gen- Mateo County Transit District) plan a transportation erally were enforced. These protocols most often included system that is safe, efficient, cost-effective, energy- meeting guidelines, decision-making protocols, and com- efficient, environmentally responsible, and is respon- mittee member responsibilities. Some standing committees sive to the needs of the broadest range of Citizens were governed by bylaws established in agency or MPO and transit users in San Mateo County" (San Mateo codes or regulations rather than by charters developed by County Transit District Citizens Advisory Committee committee members. Statement of Purpose). "The Citizens' Advisory Committee (CAC) will serve Three-quarters of committees had a chairperson. Of as a primary public participation forum for transporta- those committees, three-quarters selected their own chair- tion products and plans for the Cheyenne Metropolitan person. In most cases, the chairperson was responsible for Planning Organization (MPO). It will serve as liaison meeting management. Other responsibilities included assist- between the Cheyenne MPO and the residents of the