Accountability and Context

As noted in our first post in this series on accountability, accountability is a key component of building the trust needed for effective dialogue.   Part of accountability is reporting back, although that reporting needs to be relevant to the needs and concerns of the audience if it is to build trust.  As we noted in our second post, the best reports of progress are aligned with clearly identified citizen priorities and help citizens understand the consequences of various actions and policies.  This type of alignment is more likely to occur if the context for reports on progress is established in advance, through dialogue on what is needed or beneficial for the community.  When the purposes and assumptions that underlie various goals are articulated in advance, the subsequent sharing of data supports ongoing and productive dialogue over changing needs, shrinking resources, and conflicting priorities.  This in turn allows more integrated solutions to emerge, and promotes public acceptance of tough decisions.  This is the progression illustrated in the data to wisdom continuum.  Examples of communities (in addition to those mentioned in our last post) that have or are developing dialogues that support accountable, collaborative governance include:  Decatur, ILManor, TX, and Baltimore, MD.

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