1980 Societal Assessment of SPS

The objective of consultation programs is to provide a medium for the public to express their views on projects where decisions are being made. They attempt to obviate public perceptions of alienation from government, assuming that public opportunities to participate will dispel the notion of a citizen/ government gap. Hearings and public meetings are the primary media for consultation programs. The objective of education programs is to disseminate information to the public. The impetus for these programs has frequently been an assumption that the lack of public consensus and the tendency toward opposition to proposed technologies are due to inadequate information. The passage of legislation at many levels of government, has made it mandatory that information be available to the public in published form. Limited success of the advisory, consultation and education programs to adequately address public concerns and satisfy public demands in many areas of program development and decisionmaking, has created the need for participation programs. The major objective of participation programs is to provide a mechanism for the public to voice their opinions during the process of program development, with emphasis on the utilization of this information by decision makers. Although the advisory, consultation and education programs have addressed public concerns to some extent, opportunities for public input are limited, frequently co-opted by experts, and the utilization of public input is questionable. Participation programs offer more opportunities for direct involvement and enhance program development by elevating the rationale for decisions on the basis of information and input from the public. Participation programs are used most frequently in program development and decision making where the public has previously intervened, where decisions are controversial, and where the impact of decisions/programs is visible. They are, therefore, frequently used in the environmental area. Outreach programs are those which take the participation concept one step further, by reaching out to the public and requesting participation in program development in a circumstance in which the level of participation desired is unlikely without its solicitation. For example, in Community Action and Model Cities programs, outreach programs have been used to attempt to