In this particular context of developing a blue print in creation of a long term plan, the City manager’s office must appreciate their essential role in nurturing civic engagement, promotion of democratic governance and developing connections with the residents of the city. Some of the ways in which this role gets fulfillment is in making choices about the city’s economic services during the tough economic times. Once such choices get established, they should come up with strategic priorities through neighborhood and by extension wide city planning sessions. Also, they should be able to discuss challenging issues that the community has to deal with through online and face-to-face sessions. In essence, the principles of civic engagement are that they model civility, they sharpen a person’s skills, create more and better opportunities for informed management. Besides, they support and allow a culture of community involvement to thrive and take advantage of technology while including every person who will be affected. Most importantly, such kind of approach comes up with lasting solutions to problems that the community faces.
The addition of having to involve the community so as to give some form of empowerment can be daunting given the fact that it adds another layer to the already complicated and slow moving process of bureaucracy. Besides, the amount of time and resources for planning, the design and the implementation of the plan adds to the complexity of civic engagement. But still, over and above this complexity civic engagement plays a huge role in bringing about democracy and it also leads to more efficient and effective decisions. In essence, a government for the people cannot function without the people’s involvement in decision-making processes that affect them either directly or indirectly. Such a government cannot be functional if such avenues for civic engagement are absent, no methods for community deliberation or even opportunities to influence the government decisions. Activities such as elections, petitions and public deliberation are all ways of civic engagement. It is the role of the people to exercise such rights to participate and the government, on the other hand, is mandated to respond and respect them.
With civic engagement, the power of the community allows for making of smart, creative decisions that present the communities with the opportunity to flourish daily and excel at the challenges that they will meet tomorrow. To make the power of the community improve people’s lives, the focus needs to be on strengthening the connective tissue in the society. This approach will in turn make people to realize the importance of civic engagement when it comes to laying out the blue print for growth in the community. However, this concept raises the question of how much involvement the community should have, in other words, the expert versus crowd involvement. The general perception is that people with specialty in a specific field are always bound to make better decisions that a big crowd of random people. It could be true to an extent, especially given the fact that having access to quality information is key to appropriate decision making However, based on numerous studies, crowds can also make better decisions when they get the right conditions.
With the old service paradigm, it was perceived to be a value neutral process that had some technicalities and the authorities in charge would offer their opinions about various issues. The public administration in relation to the public interest was a passive one. Passive in this case implies that the citizens did not get directly involved in the decision-making process. They were always on the receiving end of the outcomes of the decisions made on their behalf and their reactions would serve as a gauge for the extremity of the decisions made. Similarly, the role of the administrator was a passive one. In as Much as they were in charge of the entire public service, they were still not directly involved in public affairs. A case scenario of this is when there is the assumption that the government plays a role in a democratic country whereby they use the public interest to gauge the standard for which they can base their decisions on. Minus this standard for judgment between the contenders, the scales would be adjusted in favor those who are strong. In the old public service system, public interest was defined majorly by the elected policy makers. The assumption here was that the administrators would best serve the public interest through the implementation of laws in the most efficient, neutral and scientific manner possible. In as much as the administrators would work while taking consideration of the public interest during conflicts, they had very minimal discretion. The public administrators would only play a passive role in reconciling special interest when the need arises to allow for administrative action.
The fact that the administrators played a passive role meant that civic engagement was not given much attention in the old service since the decisions made would not take into consideration the involvement of the public interest. The decisions would only take into consideration civic engagement so that they could establish some parameters or threshold for the decisions that they made. They would do so to allow get to know the extent to which they were to make adjustments to their techniques. Civic engagement should not only be useful in establishing the opinions of those whom the laws target, but they should be applicable prior to establishing these laws. Apparently, with the old public service there was very little room for civic engagement and this was reinforced by the fact that the administrators played a very passive role in the administration process.
As for the new public service, the assumption is that it works on the basis of the government creating market like places whereby the citizens as the customers can come up with their decisions based on self-interest. With this kind of reasoning, the idea is that the individual choices in the market based arena are superior to the collective choices that people make based on the shared values. The implication is that there has to be consideration of the individual opinions that people hold about specific issues that affect them of which they have to be part of the decision-making process. In the public service, the public servants play a huge role in ensuring that the citizens articulate the public interest. The collective interests and the shared values are what result into the collective action and decision making in the society for which the administrators are responsible for. For the new public service, the administrator is not seen as the sole decision maker but they form an integral part of the decision making process. By putting this into perspective, it means that the government gets the tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that the public interest predominates every decision that they make at any given time.
In relation to civic engagement, the new public service integrates public interest in every decision that they make prior to taking any action, which was not the case with the Old public service. In the old public service, the concentration was in the way the decisions were made without factoring in the importance of considering the public interest. They would assume that those who were in authority had the best interest of the people in mind and they would go forth to make their decisions without consultation. This means that a civic engagement was not a priority for the old public service. The essence of civic engagement is to get to know the status of the public interest so that they can be useful during the decision-making process. By looking at the government as a market then it diminishes the chances that it can be used to bring about civic engagement when making decisions. The disadvantage of looking at the government this way is that it cannot be useful in bringing about justice and fairness. The driving force will always be profit maximization and issues to do with social justice will not get the attention that they deserve. The central role of the government is to ensure that they serve the public interests so as to enhance citizenship.