Coffee Break Bulletin

Selecting a public policy planning group

Posted: June 7, 2017

As a member of the fire service, you may be chosen to lead development of a new public policy in your home community. This bulletin covers selection considerations for a public policy planning group.

a group of people in a meeting

A policy planning group is a group of key stakeholders who are recruited for the purpose of developing a viable public policy. Once a problem has been identified, the next step is to evaluate who may be best suited to include in the policy planning group. This is an important decision point because if public policy is chosen as a risk-reduction strategy to employ, this will be the group that leads its development.

Who to invite to the policy planning group

The policy planning group selection process involves analyzing the entire list of stakeholders and deciding who should be recruited. When deciding who to invite to the policy planning group, consider the following:

Who has the greatest vested interest in addressing the risk issue?
Recruit stakeholders who represent groups that share your organization’s common interests, views, values and policy outcomes, as well as including opponents to seek common ground.
Who has information and resources that could be invested toward policy development?
Look for stakeholder groups that possess knowledge of subject area, financial and human resources, availability, leadership, management, staff, volunteer, and research capacity.
Who has the most influence over public policy adoption at the local level?
Seek stakeholders respected by policymakers and the public at large. This includes stakeholder groups that may hold significant political influence based upon their lobbying ability, size, platform, etc.

Other people/groups to consider

As part of the selection process, consider recruiting people/groups that possess “bridge-building” attributes. These are people who are able to span the gap between government and community. They have a good understanding of the interest of community and government.

Legal counsel should be involved in the stakeholder group. Nothing will kill the policy of the stakeholder committee faster than having counsel review the proposal and say it cannot be done. This review should be for format and language.

Action step for developing and implementing better public policy

Learn more about the important role public policy plays in community risk reduction by enrolling in the National Fire Academy’s six-day class, Community Risk Reduction: A Policy Approach.

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