Institutionalizing Public Deliberation

AmericaSpeaks vision is to embed public deliberation into our governance processes at the local, state and national levels of government in order to transform the practices of our democracy. We have sought to explore the institutionalization of public deliberation through demonstration projects, training, and convening to envision what new governance mechanisms can look like.

Demonstration Projects

AmericaSpeaks works with clients and funders to develop new governance mechanisms that integrate large-scale public deliberation into the governance process. For example, AmericaSpeaks worked with Mayor Anthony Williams for eight years to institute a regular process of involving the public in shaping the city’s budget priorities. AmericaSpeaks worked with the Mayor to create an Office of Neighborhood Action in the city, which convened a 3,000-person Citizen Summit every two years to develop the city’s budget priorities. The Citizen Summits were linked to the city’s strategic planning process, a performance management system, and a public score card. In addition, AmericaSpeaks worked with the city’s planning department to create neighborhood planning processes that produced strategic neighborhood action plans for every neighborhood in the city.


AmericaSpeaks also works with government agencies to train public employees in how to more effectively engage the public. AmericaSpeaks has worked with local and federal agencies in the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe to improve skills in outreach, communications, facilitation, process design, and linking public deliberation to decision making.


AmericaSpeaks has also convened thought leaders to envision what new governance mechanisms could look like at the national level. Designing 21st Century Governance Mechanisms is a report that was produced out of one of these convenings that offers a series of alternative visions for how public deliberation could be institutionalized nationally. Millions of Voices is another report that describes what regular national discussions of more than one million people could look like.