Applicable to all programs designed and implemented by Healthy Democracy.
Last updated: January 20, 2022
We work to push the bounds of open and transparent governance, while allowing for one important – and equally novel – exception: designated space for candid deliberation among Panelists.
- We provide as many materials publicly as possible, including posting all Panel-produced work and any new Panel-requested material to a project website.
- All in-person plenary sessions are live streamed.
- All in-person processes feature a public observation gallery that is open at all times the process is running.
- All Panelists, moderators, and presenters are required to use microphones during all plenary sessions of the Panel – for the benefit of observers, language interpreters, and those who experience difficulty hearing.
- No small-group sessions are amplified or broadcast. The general public and media observers are not permitted in close proximity to small-group tables (for in-person processes) or within small-group breakout rooms (for online processes).
- During in-person processes, all observers are kept at a distance from the Panel, and are subject to the same COVID protocols as Panelists and HD staff.
- Only first names of Panelists are ever used publicly (with the exception of a last initial, as needed).
- All personal information – including demographic info – of Panelists and partners is kept solely by HD in perpetuity, except when individual Panelists provide specific written permission otherwise. More specifically: no Panelist information is ever released to conveners, funders, government agencies, researchers, subcontractors, other project partners, other Panelists, the media, the public, or anyone else who is not a current HD staff member – except with the express opt-in written permission of the Panelist whose information is to be shared, and only then for the specific purpose for which permission was granted.
- Individual Panelists are not required to act as spokespeople for the process or to speak to the public or media, except when they specifically volunteer to do so.
- Panels are designed to not be subject to public meetings laws.
- Small groups are never fully private to Panel members. Most small groups are moderated by professional moderators, who are specifically trained to promote mutual respect and understanding of the process, while staying as impartial as possible to the content of deliberations.
- Maintenance of this process/content distinction is monitored by a Process Ombud (paid by the project), by independent third-party evaluators (not paid by the project or HD), and through periodic evaluations completed by Panelists themselves (and reviewed by evaluators and a subcommittee of the Panel itself).
- All content relevant to the policy question that is generated in small groups is filtered back into the full group process, so that Panelists’ final ideas – while not their identities – are fully public.
- Panelists are empowered through the Process Oversight Subcommittee to raise and address any issues with the process that arise in small or large groups.
- HD commits to providing further explanation to absolutely anyone regarding its process design.
- HD commits to abiding by decisions made through the dispute-resolution process.
- One primary mission of Lottery-Selected Panels is to open our governance systems to the broadest possible public. We work to find new ways to do exactly what is so often avoided: to show everyone “how the sausage is made.” We’re proud of every part of our detailed designs and internal policies, and we hope to inspire others to do the same. We must embrace and respond productively to public scrutiny if we genuinely aim for a different kind of politics.
- This said, we also recognize that openness cannot be considered in isolation. And we have all seen traditional political bodies – where policy discussions are almost always in full public view – often come with unintended consequences. Ironically, well-intentioned public meeting laws can sometimes be counterproductive to a larger goal of openness. They often encourage meetings that are theoretically and superficially open but not practically so. More specifically:
- First, traditional public meetings have a chilling effect on who is willing to participate: typically only those with prior political experience, with a confident political voice, and with high degrees of social privilege.
- Traditional public meetings also have a chilling effect on how participants engage. Participants are more likely to “play to the camera,” to be highly calculated in their speech, or to simply not participate fully for fear of reprisal.
- What’s more, when there is no accepted and organized space for private negotiation, this rarely means that negotiations are public. Rather, the candid policy conversations necessary to move toward agreement are “driven underground.” They still happen; they just happen informally and without any oversight whatsoever.
- To address these outcomes, we must have designated political spaces where participants can work through ideas in some level of safety together. Courtroom juries operate on this premise – and for many of the same rationales mentioned above. In our processes, the privacy of small group sessions allows Panelists to have substantial in-process time to speak candidly with each other and to work through difficult issues before those ideas are subjected to public scrutiny.
- Panels are created to be supportive spaces where members of the public can authentically learn and contribute without becoming public figures subject to political pressures that they may not have the time, experience, or comfort to manage.
- With all of this in mind, we also want in no way to replicate our current political systems, which – in spite of public meeting laws – often only provide glimpses into policy negotiations either when details are strategically leaked to the press or when a decision is all but finalized. Our policies above relating to the periodic public sharing of content coming out of small groups, as well as the monitoring mechanisms over small-group process periods, attempt to directly address this concern.
- The public must know how processes work to have trust in them. Therefore, our default must be transparency. And where we believe theoretical openness conflicts with practical openness, we must justify our rationale in detail.