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11 PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT PROCESS meaningful input that could affect the project's out- (COMMUNICATING PUBLIC INPUT come. MPO respondents said spending money on AND COMMITMENTS) human resources to go out and talk to people, not having a huge budget but having staff resources, and 27. Most of the MPO respondents noted their agency had an ongoing process to build knowledge, understand- a well-defined process for communicating public input ing, and relationships. internally and externally, whereas many DOT respon- dents said they received comments and responded to them but beyond that, their process appeared to be less MEASURES OF EFFECTIVENESS well-defined. 28. Many of the DOT respondents were using sheets of 32. DOT and MPO respondents expected similar out- green colored paper attached to their environmental comes from their public involvement efforts. These documents or placed inside their documents to iden- ranged from all citizens having an opportunity to tify their commitments, others were using more for- comment in an equitable manner early, clearly, and malized web-based tracking, whereas MPO respon- continuously; having somebody who gets involved dents mentioned that they track them as outlined that was not involved before; better public awareness in their Public Participation Plan, on their website, of a project as a result of public involvement efforts; through a database, with meeting minutes, and through and a more knowledgeable public, improved com- interactive games. munication between the public and the planning process, the planners, and a better substantiation of the plan that results from the process. DEFINITIONS OF SUCCESSFUL, EFFECTIVE, 33. Almost all DOT and MPO respondents said that their AND COST-EFFECTIVE PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT agency had not developed quantitative or qualitative measures of effectiveness or that they were in a spe- 29. Both DOT and MPO respondents defined successful cific area such as air quality. Those attempting to do public involvement similarly--getting informed con- this responded that they considered their efforts to be sent from the public, providing equitable access to deci- unsophisticated and rudimentary--counting heads, sion making and offering opportunities to provide input number of meetings, number of newsletters, etc. that is carefully considered when the transportation 34. Because most DOT and MPO respondents noted that decisions are made, getting a better decision than what their agencies had not developed quantitative or you set out to do, reaching a representative set of the qualitative measures of effectiveness, they could not population, and acquiring meaningful input that results respond to the question of do these measures include in a plan that reflects the priorities of the community. measures of the equity or inclusiveness of their pub- 30. DOT respondents reported that effective public in- lic involvement to ensure that their efforts targeted volvement was getting people to show up and voice groups that were traditionally underrepresented in the their opinions, providing everyone with timely oppor- decision-making process and underserved by trans- tunities to comment and a variety of ways to get portation facilities. involved, getting buy-in into the problems and solu- 35. Most DOT and MPO respondents reported that their tions, and everyone having an understanding of how agency did not measure the cost-effectiveness of their the agency arrived at its solution and being in agree- public involvement. ment with that solution. MPO respondents most fre- quently noted that successful public involvement and effective public involvement was the same thing. EFFECTIVE, COST-EFFECTIVE, Others believed it was not only when the agency got AND INEFFECTIVE TECHNIQUES information from the public that helped the agency understand the public's issues, but also when the 36. Most DOT and MPO respondents identified their most agency was able to provide information to the public effective techniques as being a mixture of personal, that helped the public understand the agency's con- face-to-face encounters with the public by piggyback- cerns. Some defined effective public involvement as ing on events sponsored by other organizations, going being when everyone (planners, public, lawmakers, to other organizations and making presentations, and and decision makers) was engaged, all were on the holding a variety of small or one-on-one meetings. A same page, everyone was working for the common mixture of print and electronic media, on-line activities, good, and the process was transparent. and visualizations was also mentioned. All respondents 31. The most frequent response from DOTs was that stated their agencies had a website and that some of they had not or did not define cost-effective public them had individual project-specific websites. When involvement, and had never tied public involvement asked if they thought their websites were effective, back to cost--it simply cost whatever was necessary. most respondents replied in the affirmative, but were Others stated it was engaging a sufficient number of unable explain how they measured their effective- stakeholders to reveal the pertinent issues and receive ness. Most respondents did not know whether or not