Strengthening Democracy through Citizen Engagement: Insights for Public Administrators

July 2003 - Democracy cannot thrive without a thoroughly engaged citizenry. Recognizing the immense importance of citizen engagement, the National Academy of Public Administration issued a June 1999 report entitled A Government to Trust and Respect, which urged public officials to take strong measures to rebuild the poor relationship between citizens and government before effective democratic government becomes steadily harder to achieve. A 10-member Academy Panel, chaired by former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul A. Volcker, produced the report. 

Focusing on the need to improve the performance of government itself, the report argued that citizens and government must reach agreement on the measure of good government. 

In June 2000, the Academy appointed another Panel to identify effective ways to implement the findings of the prior report, with particular attention paid to youth and other highly disaffected groups of citizens. Members of the Panel included Gail Christopher (Chair), Former Executive Director, Institute for Government Innovation, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Chris Gates, President, National Civic League; Edie Goldenberg, Professor, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan; Elizabeth Hollander, Executive Director, Campus Compact, Brown University; and Brian O’Connell, Professor, University College of Citizenship and Public Service,Tufts University.