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Director's Roundtable: Connecting with Citizens - Final Report and Action Plan

Category: Agency Plans and Reports

Date Published: January 2002

Number of Pages: 53

Author(s): Jeffrey Koenings, Ph.D., Director

INTRODUCTION:

When I became director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife three years ago, one of my goals was to improve the way the agency interacted with citizens. How did we inform citizens about our activities? Which of our information products were people using, and which ones were they ignoring? Were we giving people enough of an opportunity to be involved in our deliberative processes? Were we providing them with the technical and other information they wanted at the local level?

To answer these questions and formulate a plan to make improvements in the way we do business, I convened a series of informal discussions around the state. The discussions, called "Director’s Roundtables: Connecting With Citizens," were held in the fall of 2001 in each of the Department’s six administrative regions and Olympia. The agency’s regional directors and I established citizen panels representing a wide range of fish and wildlife interests to insure the Department heard from a cross-section of Washington citizens.

The discussions were overseen by an impartial, private facilitator, and focused on three specific areas: interpersonal communications, public involvement and information products. To help them prepare, panelists were provided background material on WDFW’s efforts in those three areas. Once the discussions began, citizens were encouraged to provide feedback on their perceptions of the Department’s performance in these three areas, and to recommend improvements. While the Roundtables were underway, a citizen survey on the same topics was posted on the Department’s Internet website so that citizens at large could express their opinions.

Simultaneously, meetings were held in each region and Olympia with Department employees to get their opinions and ideas on how we could make improvements in public communications. Employees were also asked to complete a survey.

I’m pleased to report that the Roundtables were a success. Participation was good, and the comments received were extremely helpful. Much of the feedback confirmed that the Department is doing many things right, and employees were roundly praised by citizens for their high degree of professionalism and dedication. A number of comments shed insight on how we might improve the way we interact with citizens, while other comments identified challenges that the Department hadn’t focused on before. All the input helped identify short-term and long-term action plans for improvement.

Included in this report are the results of the Roundtable discussions and surveys and our action plans. I am confident this effort has helped us look at ourselves in ways we might not have otherwise, and helped us grow as an agency. For that, I thank all of you who took the time to participate.

Jeffrey Koenings, Ph.D., Director
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife