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Public Participation Guide: Situation Assessments
What is a Situation Assessment?
Outcomes from a Situation Assessment
- the key stakeholder voices that must be engaged for a credible process
- the main stakeholder concerns, issues, and interests
- the specific opportunities where public input can help to shape the decision
- any issues or constraints that may affect public participation
Why do a Situation Assessment?
The main purpose of a situation assessment is to identify the conditions necessary for a successful public participation process so that the sponsor agency and stakeholders are engaged in a common purpose.
- clarify the problem or opportunity to be addressed and the decision to be made
- define the sponsor agency’s approach to public participation
- identify stakeholders and their concerns
- reveal information gaps or misunderstandings early enough so they can be addressed
- identify potential constraints on the public participation process
- surface issues that will need to be considered in the decision process.
How do you conduct a Situation Assessment?
- Phase 1: the internal assessment, the purpose of which is to clarify the problem or opportunity, the decision to be made, available resources and commitment for public participation, and the sponsor agency’s expectations about the appropriate level of public participation
- Phase 2: the external assessment, the purpose of which is to identify the full range of external stakeholders that should be engaged and to learn from the public to understand how stakeholders perceive the situation and decision to be made.
- identify who (i.e., which group and/or individuals) has final decision authority
- understand how the agency defines the problem or decision to be made
- identify any constraints on the decision (such as regulations and timing)
- obtain a preliminary list of stakeholders who are likely to participate in the decision and the issues associated with the decision
- identify available resources and capacity to conduct public participation
- identify the level of public participation the agency is expecting.
- inform them of the nature and extent of the decisions to be made
- assess their current understandings of the situation
- assess their interest in participating in the decision process
- identify additional interested and important stakeholders.
- How do you view the current situation?
- What issues are involved in the decision?
- How important are these issues to you?
- What are your main interests in this project or decision?
- What information and sources of information are available to you now?
- What other information would be helpful?
- Who’s affected?
- Who else should I be speaking to?
- Whose support is crucial to implementing the decision?
- Who has the ability to block implementation of the decision?
- What are the important relationships among stakeholders in this community?
- How would you like to be involved?
- What role would you like to play or do you feel the community would like to play in decision making?
- What are the best forums for your involvement?
- How would you like to receive information and what are the sources of information that you use and trust?
- What’s next?
- What types of things could be done to help make this a meaningful process for your community?
- This is what you can expect from us next.