Oregon Citizens’ Initiative Review Named Top 10 Program by Harvard’s Ash Awards

PORTLAND, Ore. — Today, the Oregon Citizens’ Initiative Review was announced as a Top 10 program in this year’s Roy and Lila Ash Award for Public Engagement in Government by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. As a Top 10 program, the Oregon Citizens’ Initiative Review represents the top 2% of all initial applications for the Roy and Lila Ash Award.

The Oregon Citizens’ Initiative Review was piloted in 2010 and became an official part of Oregon’s elections in 2011. The Citizens’ Initiative Review brings together 24 Oregonian voters—representing Oregon’s demographic and political diversity—to fairly and thoroughly evaluate a state ballot measure. Their findings, known as a Citizens’ Statement, are published in the official Voters’ Pamphlet. The Citizens’ Statement highlights key findings about the measure as well as the best reasons for and against the measure. It does this in clear and understandable language so that Oregon’s voters can make a decision for themselves, using the Statement as a trustworthy resource. This cuts through the limited and unreliable information that often plagues the public conversation on ballot measures. It is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Tony Saich, director of the Ash Center and Daewoo Professor of International Affairs, remarked that these programs “demonstrate the expanding horizons of how technology can be used to engage citizens and disseminate information more broadly than it ever has before. These programs are not just changing the old town hall method of public discourse, but also showing how the principles and tools of engagement, crowdsourcing, and open information can be used in initiatives working to address diverse societal challenges, such as enfranchisement and informed voting, mental health, criminal justice, and community development.”

The Roy and Lila Ash Award for Public Engagement in Government aims to highlight government programs, policies, and initiatives that encourage public participation in a range of budgetary, regulatory, and policy decisions. This award was also designed to recognize those efforts that successfully employ digital technology and crowdsourcing techniques to broaden public involvement in government decision-making and drive problem-solving.

The Innovations in American Government Awards was created by the Ford Foundation in 1985 in response to widespread pessimism and distrust in government’s effectiveness. Since its inception, over 500 government innovations across all jurisdiction levels have been recognized and have collectively received more than $22 million in grants to support dissemination efforts. Such models of good governance also inform research and academic study around key policy areas both at Harvard Kennedy School and academic institutions worldwide. Past winners have served as the basis of case studies taught in more than 450 Harvard courses and over 2,250 courses worldwide.

For more information, contact:

Daniel Harsha
Associate Director for Communications, Ash Center

Robin Teater
Executive Director, Healthy Democracy

About the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation
The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation advances excellence in governance and strengthens democratic institutions worldwide. Through its research, education, international programs, and government innovations awards, the Center fosters creative and effective government problem solving and serves as a catalyst for addressing many of the most pressing needs of the world’s citizens. For more information, visit www.ash.harvard.edu.