The watchword for 2009 and 2010 seems to be â€œtransparency.â€
While politicians bicker in Washington on just about everything, one item they should agree on is a desire from the public for more disclosure and open dialogue.
This is not a new occurrence. For many decades, the government has been guided by â€œSunshine laws,â€ open door requirements, and outreach processes to allow adequate public participation.
Now, the question can become, does the government actually listen to the public and offer up more than government-speak to curious citizens?
Iâ€™ve been on the road facilitating public outreach meetings for a government agency. Weâ€™re traveling around the Pacific Northwest and talking with a variety of citizenry about Cold-War legacy, nuclear materials cleanup.
I am convinced these government officials are very genuine in their interests to obtain public input and disclose everything they know about the problem we confront in nuclear waste cleanup.
Why do I believe this? Well, first, they assembled a 6,000 page Environmental Impact Statement that covers more than weâ€™d ever want to know about the problem. Second, they are traveling endless hours â€” to sometimes remote locations â€” to garner public input. Third, they developed a wide variety of easy-to-understand fliers, handouts and posters to offer up valid and simple explanations. Lastly, they created CDs of reports, assembled a content rich Web site and other consumer friendly stuff.
All in all, this public involvement process shows me there is a way to offer up full disclosure and develop good discourse on government actions in the name of transparency.