Municipalities across the country use various methods of public input to inform managers and elected policymakers about citizen’s preferences and perspectives regarding budget matters or performance measures. One benefit of actively involving the public on key governmental decisions is the belief that it enhances the public’s trust and/or confidence in government. Does it make a difference in the public’s confidence assessments which public engagement technique is used? If enhancing the public’s trust/confidence is a specific objective of a public engagement, which technique is to be preferred? This article presents public trust and confidence data we have been collecting as part of ongoing public engagements in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA. We compare differences in the public’s trust and confidence in government as a function of online input versus phone surveys versus face-to-face discussions. Results suggest that there are significant differences in the public’s trust and confidence in government as a function of the type of engagement. Engagements that expose residents to governmental officials in a more salient way may be superior for increasing public trust and confidence compared to those engagements that involve less exposure to governmental officials.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/joseph_hamm/1/