18 CFR 708.5 - Program objectives implementation.
(a) The continuing public participation program shall contain mechanisms or activities for each objective listed in § 708.3(b). The listing of specific measures in this section shall not preclude additional techniques for obtaining, encouraging, or assisting public participation. Special efforts shall be made to simplify the planning process and products for public and media use. Variances may occur in the use of any given program element, according to the nature of the planning issues, the budgetary resources accorded the participation process, and the effectiveness of the participation actually elicited and measured in the field.
(b) To obtain data in regard to plan-relevant public opinion, methods, shall include but not be limited to survey research.
(1) The survey research process shall be developed and utilized in connection with the Master Plan as a whole and its components. Whereas public meetings are organized to elicit unstructured participation and opinion changes, surveys shall be targeted on carefully selected samples of functionally defined publics located throughout the System.
(2) The Commission shall evaluate the effectiveness of the information/education program on the part of the surveyed publics. This is necessary for continued and sustained participation in the decision-making steps of the planning process.
(3) If a gap is found between the desired and actual effectiveness, the Commission shall develop and implement a short-term narrow-focus information and education program targeted at the specific problem areas in question.
(4) On completion of the short-term information/education program, re-surveys shall be made among the affected publics. The results shall constitute a measure of the effectiveness of the short-term information/education program.
(c) To improve information transfer and public awareness of the study, two levels of information and education activities shall be pursued. The first shall have the general public as its target audience and shall emphasize methods that foster general awareness and understanding of plan issues and the nature of the ongoing planning process. The second level of information and education activities shall focus on public interest groups, agency representatives, and elected officials and shall emphasize the creation of plan component data and information in a form that can be utilized by these groups in the plan decision-making process. The information presented shall be broadly representative of the relevant perspectives and issues.
(d) Throughout the period of study and the succeeding period of implementation of the Master Plan, the Commission shall provide a centralized capability for acting as an information/education center. The Commission shall provide a central source of media-directed information about the Master Plan, its components, future expected planning needs in the System, current program-related activities, and other relevant subject areas. Special efforts shall be made to summarize complex technical materials for public and media use. The Commission shall have standing arrangements for early consultation and exchange of views with interested or affected persons and organizations on development or revisions of plans, programs, or other significant actions prior to decision-making. Survey research methods and other procedures will be used to determine the content and emphasis of information and education activities and products.
(i) Public meetings shall be organized at locations in parts of the System most significantly affected by the possible outcomes. These open meetings shall be timed to coincide with sequential elements of the planning process.
(ii) The meetings shall provide citizens and representatives of interested organizations an opportunity to utilize an informally-structured format to air their suggestions and grievances in regard to the subject matter of the Master Plan.
(iii) When the Commission deems a formal public hearing is necessary, it may coincide with the pulic meeting. When this is the case, a clear distinction shall be made between the formal and open segments of the meeting/hearing.
(iv) Documents and data pertaining to the agenda for each public meeting shall be made available to the public for a reasonable time prior to the public meeting, at a location convenient to the expected participants. In addition, the Commission shall prepare outlines of major issues including brief descriptions of the issues, alternatives, and sources of additional information.
(i) The Commission is required to publish a preliminary plan not later than January 1, 1981 and to hold public hearings in each state which would be affected by the plan. The Commission is required to review all comments presented at such hearings or submitted in writing to the Commission, and, after making any revisions in the plan it decides are necessary, to submit to Congress a final Master Plan not later than January 1, 1982.
(ii) The public hearings on the preliminary plan and any other public hearings deemed necessary by the Commission are to be consistent with the provisions of sec. 205 of Pub. L. 89-80 in conformity with this part. If conflict exists between the minimum guidelines of this part and requirements of state or Federal law or other regulations pertaining to a particular hearing, the more stringent requirements shall be observed.
(iii) In addition to any other formal legal requirements, the public hearings are to be well publicized and notices of each hearing will be mailed to interested or affected persons at least 30 calendar days before the hearings.
(iv) In determining locations and times for hearings, consideration will be given to travel and to facilitating attendance and testimony by a cross-section of interested or affected persons and organizations. Accessibility of hearing sites by public transportation will be considered.
(v) The preliminary plan and any supporting reports, documents, and data to be discussed at the public hearings are to be made available to the public at least 30 days prior to the public hearings. Information concerning availability of the preliminary plan, reports, documents, and data will be provided in public hearing notices.
(vii) Testimony of witnesses at public hearings shall be scheduled in advance when necessary to ensure maximum participation and allotment of adequate time for testimony, provided that such scheduling is not used as a bar to unscheduled testimony. Blocks of time shall be considered for major categories of witnesses.
(viii) Public hearing procedures shall not inhibit free expression of views by requirements of more than one legible copy of any statement submitted, or for qualifications of witnesses beyond that needed for identification.
(ix) A record of public hearing proceedings shall be made promptly available to the public at cost. The Commission shall invite, receive, and consider comments in writing from any interested or affected persons and organizations. All such comments shall be part of the public record.
(f) To provide mechanisms for evaluation of public participations in the Master Plan:
(1) The Commission shall conduct periodic evaluations of the public participation program. The purpose of this evaluation is to determine the following:
(i) The extent of actual participation elicited from each of the process phases - public meetings, public hearings, survey research, direct input from organizations, and other sources.
(ii) The degree to which participation elicited from each process phase was actually utilized in the planning process.
(iii) Regional/local differences in effectiveness of public participation methods and procedures.
(iv) The need to modify the public participation process during the Master Plan.
(2) Public participation evaluations shall be incorporated into the Master Plan. Recommendations resulting from this overall evaluation shall be utilized to draft new guidelines and plans of study for public participation programs to be implemented after the Master Plan has been adopted.