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Citizen Participation: Conflicting Interests in State and National Agency Policy Making.

This study examines citizen participation in agency policy making across levels of governance in the United States, to address the following questions: Do citizens pursuing economic policy goals participate and wield influence in agency policy making differently than do citizens pursuing noneconomic policy goals? Does citizen participation in state policy making differ from that in national policy making? Analysis of policy making and participation in one policy sector, public forest management, suggests that citizens favoring economic (timber) goals participate more, and perceive greater influence, in state agency decisions, while those favoring noneconomic (environmental preservation) goals participate more, and perceive greater influence, in national agency decisions. These differences result from several factors, including legal constraints, agency composition, use outcomes, geographic location of stakeholders, and job mobility.

INTRODUCTION

The role of citizen participation in democratic policy making has sparked much debate. Even as observers express concern over a lack of citizen involvement in contemporary political life, it is widely recognized that government agencies are taking on greater responsibility for complex policy choices throughout society. To what degree should the governed participate in the details of government policy? Are citizens capable of making wise choices about highly specialized, complex policy matters, or should government agency experts make decisions based on professional knowledge, insulated from public opinion?

The question of citizens' role in the administration and formation of government policies is highlighted in work by Kweit and Kweit (1981), who described a fundamental tension between addressing citizen preferences through (1) elected officials who delegate responsibility to bureaucratic experts, and (2) citizen participation in bureaucratic activities. This question has become more important with the growth of public bureaucracies at all levels of governance. It also has become more important with the creation of statutes and regulations, particularly at the national level, that increasingly have required bureaucrats to expend greater efforts to encourage citizen participation in agency decisions (e.g., the Administrative Procedures Act, Government in the Sunshine Act, and National Environmental Policy Act).

Tension between agency officials' technical expertise and responsiveness to the citizenry is not new to democratic governance. At the time of the founding of the United States, Thomas Jefferson espoused a political system relying on citizen consent and direct participation as the basis for democracy. This vision emphasized local jurisdictions with active citizen involvement in all aspects of governance, such that "any citizen can attend, when called on, and act in person" (Mason, 1956, p. 372). By this view, citizens should participate actively in self-governance, not only electing officials but also shaping day-to-day administration of government activities. Citizen involvement, it is claimed, increases government accountability as well as citizen trust and confidence in public officials (Cole, 1975, p. 7). Moreover, according to the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (1980, p. 12), "citizen participation beyond the electoral process is an essential part of representative democracy in Americ a."

In contrast, philosophers such as John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham focused on elected representatives, not direct involvement, as the most important means of citizen participation (Sabine, 1947, pp. 650-655). According to Walter Lippmann (1922), most citizens are not qualified to participate meaningfully in most administrative affairs due to limited attention, interest, and knowledge. Moreover, B. R. Berelson argued that not all citizens should participate actively in politics, because the presence of politically passive citizens serves to "cushion the shock of disagreement, adjustment, and change" (Pateman, 1976, p. 7). Thus, by this view, greater citizen participation in day-to-day government affairs is not desired. Critics of requirements for involving citizens in such activities point out that they can hinder the ability of bureaucrats to perform their duties, give undue influence to non-elected and unaccountable individuals, cost taxpayer money, and exacerbate conflict (ACIR, 1980, p. 21).

Indeed, as bureaucrats expand efforts to increase citizen involvement in decision making, they face increasing demands from citizens with conflicting interests. Patterns of citizen participation can be an important factor in shaping agency decisions (see, for example, Culhane, 1981; Sabatier et al., 1995). Thus, in order to understand policy making in public agencies, it is important to understand who participates.

In the U.S. federal system, understanding participation is complicated by the existence of multiple jurisdictions at different levels of governance. Do patterns of participation in bureaucratic decision making differ across levels of governance? If so, then what causes such differences? These questions are crucial today in the continuing debates over which level of governance should have responsibility in policy sectors such as welfare, medical care, public lands, urban renewal, endangered species, pollution control, and many others. To inform such debates, we must understand policy consequences of the assignment of authority to higher or lower levels of governance. An important consequence is the amount and impact of citizen participation in policy making.

Empirical research on citizen participation in agency decision making generally does not address differences across levels of governance. Instead, scholars usually examine a single level of government, typically national, to describe differences in participation among citizens with conflicting interests. For example, in a study of one policy sector, public forest management, at the national level, scholars found that citizens favoring timber tend to differ in gender, income, political beliefs, age, education, and place of residence from citizens favoring environmental protection (Force and Williams, 1989). In addition, they concluded that, across four national forests, citizens with environmental interests comprise a higher proportion of all participants than do those with timber interests; thus, national forest bureaucrats have more contacts with the former than the latter. In another study of national forest policy, the author found that citizens favoring environmental protection pursue different methods o f participation, such as letter writing, political organizing, and public information dissemination through media contacts, than do citizens favoring timber, who pursue methods such as testifying before legislative committees and working directly with agency personnel (Steel et al., 1996).

Forest policy is an informative sector in which to examine citizen participation, since those involved often have conflicting policy outcome goals. The management of public forests for multiple uses leads to an array of citizens with mutually exclusive preferences about how agency officials should manage resources. For example, most hikers prefer forests with standing trees rather than timber harvest openings, while timber proponents are likely to oppose the setting aside of commercially valuable trees for wilderness. In the United States, over 720 million acres of land is forested, nearly 30% of which is in the public domain, owned and managed by national, state, and local governments (Cubbage et al., 1993). Thus, a substantial quantity of natural resources are subject to the interplay of agency officials and citizens seeking to affect policy. As environmental awareness, outdoor recreation popularity, and timber demands continue to increase, questions about citizen participation in public forest policy will become even more important.

Empirical studies of forest policy, such as those described above, suggest that citizens with different interests exhibit different patterns of participation in bureaucratic decision making. This result is important in understanding how policy at the national level is made and whose preferences are likely to be taken into account. A critical question remains unanswered, however, with regard to policy making in the U.S. federal system: Do such participation patterns differ across levels of governance?

Policy research literature provides a starting point to understand participation in a federal system. An important distinction has been made between two broad categories of interests: economic and noneconomic. In the context of federalism, scholars have suggested, in theory, differences in participation across levels of governance. This study provides a more formal empirical investigation of such theoretical claims, which center on two arguments.

First, citizens favoring economic benefits are expected to be more active and influential at lower levels. Sabatier (1974) argued that parties seeking economic benefits advocate policy devolution to lower levels of governance, where they will find regulators more attuned to promoting economic development. With greater capital mobility across states than nations, state officials fear repercussions (e.g., job losses, reduced tax base) of capital leaving if they fail to pursue economic development (Peterson, 1995). Thus citizens with economic interests are expected to more actively participate, and wield greater influence, at lower levels of governance.

Second, citizens pursuing noneconomic interests are expected to be more active at higher levels of governance (Peterson, 1981, 1995; Heclo, 1978). If this is true, then these citizens also might wield more influence at higher levels. In fact, groups favoring noneconomic interests such as environmental preservation have grown at the national level, increasingly focusing on national policies (see Walker, 1983; Schlozman and Tierney, 1983; Nash, 1982; Robinson, 1975).

Together, these arguments suggest an underlying pattern of participation a across levels of governance in a federal system: economic interests are more active and influential at lower levels while noneconomic interests are more active and influential at higher levels of governance. To test this pattern with empirical evidence, it is instructive to analyze a policy sector in which both lower and higher levels of governance have policy responsibility, and where policy choices include economic and noneconomic goals. Public forest management provides such a sector. Careful examination of differences between national and state forest management allows assessment of the degree to which citizen participation varies systematically by government level in a federal system. Specifically, analysis allows testing of the following two hypotheses:

1. National forest officials communicate more with citizens favoring environmental preservation than with timber proponents, while state forest officials communicate more with citizens favoring timber than with preservation proponents.

2. Citizens favoring environmental preservation are more influential in national than state forest policy, while those favoring timber are more influential in state than national forest policy.

DATA AND MEASUREMENTS

Data for the following analysis come from a broader study involving examination of public forest policy in four cases. In each case, data collection centers on a matched forest pair comprised of one state and one national forest, which are located in a similar geographic region and share similar ecological characteristics (Koontz, 1997a). Case 1 is Ohio State Forests and Wayne National Forest, Case 2 is Indiana State Forests and Hoosier National Forest, Case 3 is Washington State Forests and Gifford Pinchot National Forest, and Case 4 is Oregon State Forests and Siuslaw National Forest. While full generalizability cannot be established from four case studies, the diversity of conditions across these cases increases applicability of the findings to other settings (see Appendix). Data come from interviews with agency personnel, survey instruments, agency documents, and interviews with citizen participants.

Interviews with agency personnel include a wide range of individuals most closely involved in making decisions about how the forests are managed. These individuals include agency officials in line as well as staff positions, from field workers up to state forestry department chiefs and national forest supervisors. While not all of these individuals supervise employees and allocate budgets, each has responsibilities for making management decisions and providing input into forest decision making. Agency interviewees selected for this research constitute a representative sample of similar areas of responsibility within each agency, including timber sales planning and administration, wildlife, recreation, environmental protection, legislative relations, public education and communication, budget management, and overall agency management. In-depth interviews, which typically lasted one to two hours each, were held with over 40 agency officials.

In addition to interviews, agency personnel also provided responses to a standard questionnaire. On the questionnaire, respondents indicated their perspectives about the amount of influence various factors have in influencing agency activities (see Appendix). The overall questionnaire response rate was 65 of 75, or 87%. Agency personnel also provided documents, including official reports, plans, budget proposals, accounting spreadsheets, internal memos, and maps.

Finally, the data include interviews with citizen participants involved in forest policy. Participants were purposefully selected, based on agency personnel identifying them as "key contacts" and by other citizen participants suggesting them as important people to contact. Most interviews lasted from 10 to 15 minutes, with discussion focusing on communication levels and perceived influence. These interviews were conducted with over 40 citizen participants.

RESULTS

Results indicate important differences in participation patterns and perceived influence between economic and noneconomic interests across levels of governance. Both officials and participants perceive that citizens with economic interests (timber) participate more at the state level while citizens with noneconomic interests (environmental preservation) participate more at the national level. Moreover, participants perceive citizens favoring economic goals to be more influential at the state level, while both officials and participants perceive citizens favoring noneconomic goals to be more influential at the national level.

Amounts of Participation

Hypothesis 1 suggests that national forest officials communicate more with citizens favoring environmental preservation, while state forest officials communicate more with citizens favoring timber. Data from agency officials as well as citizen participants support this hypothesis.

Officials' Perceptions

Information about officials' perceptions of citizen participation comes from officials' interviews and questionnaire responses. Results indicate that, while both national and state officials engaged in communication with a variety of interests (including recreation), the balance of communications between environmental preservation and timber interests was tilted toward preservation among national officials and toward timber among state officials.

First, national and state officials were asked, during interviews, to rank the amount of communication they had with various citizen participants. In each of the three cases where officials provided such information, [1] compared to state officials, national officials were more likely to list preservation interests among their most frequent contacts (see Table 1). In contrast, compared to national officials, state officials were somewhat more likely to include timber interests among their most frequent contacts.

In Case 2, no Hoosier National Forest officials reported communicating most with timber interests, while four of seven (57%) national officials said that they communicate most with preservation interests, and three (43%) indicated most communication with recreation interests. Among five Indiana State Forest officials in Case 2, one (20%) reported most communication with timber interests, one (20%) reported most communication with preservation interests, and three (60%) said that they communicate most with various recreation interests.

Similarly, in Case 3, no Gifford Pinchot National Forest officials reported most communication with timber interests, while five of ten (50%) national officials said that they communicate most with preservation interests, and five (50%) said that they communicate most with various recreation interests. Among Washington State Forest officials in Case 3, one of five (20%) reported most communication with timber interests, one (20%) reported most communication with preservation interests, and three (60%) said that they communicate most with various recreation interests.

Finally, in Case 4, two of eight (25%) Siuslaw National Forest officials indicated that they communicate most with timber interests, while four (50%) said that they communicate most with preservation interests, and two (25%) reported most communication with recreation interests. In contrast, among Oregon State Forest officials in Case 4, eight of ten (80%) said that they communicate most with timber interests, one (10%) reported most communication with preservation interests, and one (10%) reported most communication with recreation interests.

Across the three cases, just two of 25 (8%) national officials indicated most frequent contact with timber interests, while 13 (52%) national officials indicated most frequent contact with preservation interests. In contrast, 10 of 20 (50%) state officials indicated most frequent contact with timber interests, while just three (15%) state officials indicated most frequent contact with preservation interests. Clearly, officials' perceptions indicate different patterns of communications with citizen participants, as suggested by Hypothesis 1.

Citizen Participants' Perceptions

Of course, communication is not a one-way street. To understand participation from a citizen perspective, interviews were conducted with a number of citizen participants in each case. Interviewee selection was based on referrals from forest officials as well as from other citizen participants, who suggested individuals actively participating in public forest policy. To highlight differences between conflicting interests, interviewees were selected from two distinct policy preferences, preservation and timber. Their responses complement officials' perceptions of communication with preservation and timber interests. In three of the four cases, citizens favoring preservation reported more communication with national than state officials. In all four cases, citizens favoring timber reported more communication with state than national officials (see Table 2).

In Case 1, Ohio State Forests and Wayne National Forest, most individuals favoring preservation indicated greater communication with national officials, while most individuals favoring timber indicated greater communication with state officials. Among citizens favoring preservation, four of five (80%) said that they have more communication with national than state agency officials, while one (20%) indicated equivalent levels of communication across the agencies. An important cause of this difference is the existence of specialist positions within the national agency. As one respondent favoring preservation said, "I talk to national officials more, because with their specialists they are receptive to a broader spectrum of interests." Similarly, another person favoring preservation indicated that she feels more comfortable contacting the national agency than the state agency, because the former is staffed with a botanist who understands her concerns.

Among pro-timber citizens in Case 1, only one of four (25%) reported higher communication levels with Wayne National Forest than Ohio State Forest officials, while three of four (75%) reported more communication with state officials. This reflects the fact that most communication between officials and timber proponents occurs in conjunction with timber sales, and state officials sell a significantly higher volume of timber than do national officials (Koontz, 1997b). Moreover, one pro-timber interviewee described a close informal relationship with state officials: "We attend several state meetings, but a lot gets hashed out in coffee shops."

In Case 2, Indiana State Forests and Hoosier National Forest, citizens favoring preservation indicated somewhat more communication with state officials, while those favoring timber reported substantially more communication with state officials. Among citizens favoring preservation, four of eight (50%) reported greater communication with Indiana State Forest officials, while three of eight (38%) indicated greater communication with Hoosier National Forest officials. Preservation-oriented individuals who reported more communication with state officials described participation on a state forestry committee. They also described regular contacts with high-level agency officials. For example, one individual noted, "Sure, there's no required public input at the state level, but I can call up the state forester and give input." Ironically, one individual described more frequent contact with state officials that came about as a reaction to previously low levels of communication. She was working on a special project f or an environmental advocacy group aiming to increase communications with state officials, in order to reach the level already achieved with national officials. Meanwhile, those who reported more communication with national officials cited the agency's public notification efforts, including letters describing upcoming activities, quarterly newsletters, and personal phone calls, as helpful for staying in touch. One such individual also said he sees national officials at various forestry meetings around the state, and that he regularly meets with senior staff for specific issues as they arise.

Among timber proponents in Case 2, all five (100%) reported more communication with state than national officials. Timber contractors who are licensed by the state receive periodic mailings announcing state forest timber sales. Several individuals with timber interests sit on state forest committees. They also described communications through cooperation in forestry programs, such as "Project Learning Tree" (an educational program aimed at school children), logger training, cost-sharing arrangements, and management of private timberlands. In addition, they may contract to perform timber stand improvement work on state forests. Through a common interest in the profession of forestry, which traditionally has emphasized timber production, these individuals work on a professional level with state forest officials, as both contractors and knowledgeable practitioners giving and receiving advice about forest management techniques. This close working relationship between timber interests and state officials stands i n sharp contrast to timber interests' interactions with national officials, who provide fewer timber sale opportunities, and who do not contract for timber stand improvement work. Moreover, several timber users noted frustration at their efforts to communicate effectively with national officials. As one timber proponent noted, "We were involved with the national forest Plan back in the 1980s, and we would come in with rational support for our recommendations, but it seemed like the officials were not ready to use our input to change policy. I don't have extra time to do that any more, since it's of no use in changing things."

In Case 3, Washington State Forests and Gifford Pinchot National Forest, citizens favoring preservation indicated more communication with national officials, while those favoring timber indicated more communication with state officials. Among citizens with preservation interests, four of six (67%) reported more communication with national officials, while just two of six (33%) reported more communication with state officials. A typical reason reported for this difference is that national officials provide greater opportunities for substantive input.

Among citizens favoring timber in Case 3, no one indicated more communication with national officials, while four of five (80%) said that they have more communication with state officials, and one of five (20%) reported similar levels with national and state officials. This difference reflects several factors, including higher levels of timber sales on state forests. One individual favoring timber expressed frustration at communicating with national officials: "I don't provide much input on national forest projects, because it's frustrating to spend a day or two analyzing documents and sending in comments that I know will be dumped Out of a mailbag and considered equally among many other comments." Another timber proponent explained, "I have a better rapport with state personnel because I know nearly everyone in the regional office. National personnel include more of a cross-section of different personnel, with timber just a small part of the staff, so I don't know as many of them."

In Case 4, Oregon State Forests and Siuslaw National Forest, citizens favoring preservation reported more communication with national officials, while those favoring timber indicated more communication with state officials. All four (100%) citizens favoring preservation said that they communicate more with national officials. One reason for this difference, according to one participant, is the national agency's multiple-use mandate: "On the national forests, the same group of people deals with forestry, fish, and water quality issues, whereas the state is more fragmented by resource, so it's more difficult to communicate on non-timber issues." Another preservation proponent said, "We have less communication with state officials because their mandate is more narrow--to make revenue." In addition, several preservation proponents cited the formal public comment processes required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and National Forest Management Act (NFMA) for making public involvement more accessib le on the national forest than state forests.

Among timber-oriented citizens in Case 4, only one of four (25%) indicated more communication with national officials, while three of four (75%) reported more communication with state officials. One timber proponent reported that his communication with agency officials is directly related to the number of timber sales, and since state agency officials were more active in timber provision, he had more contacts with them.

It is clear that, across the four cases, national officials have a higher proportion of communication with citizens favoring preservation interests and state officials have a higher proportion of communication with citizens favoring timber. This finding, which supports Hypothesis 1, reflects several factors, including the national agency's greater diversity of agency staff positions, lower level of timber production, and more stringent rules requiring opportunities for public input into decision making processes on national forests.

Influence of Citizen Participation

Since a fundamental reason that citizens participate is to affect agency activities, it is important to examine the amount of influence exerted by such input. Hypothesis 2 suggests that those who favor environmental preservation, a noneconomic goal, are more influential in national than state forest policy, while those favoring timber, an economic goal, are more influential in state than national forest policy. This difference stems from greater mobility across states than nations; state officials fear repercussions (e.g., job losses, reduced tax base) from timber purchasers who may readily move operations out of state if state policies do not emphasize economic goals sufficiently (Peterson, 1995). Analysis provides moderate support for Hypothesis 2: state and national officials perceive systematic differences in preservation but not timber interest influence, while citizen participants perceive systematic differences across both interest types.

Officials' Perceptions of Influence through Communications with Citizens

To test Hypothesis 2, data analysis focuses first on officials' perceptions of influence. A standard questionnaire item asked officials to indicate, on a scale of 1 ("no influence") to 5 ("very influential"), the amount of influence various participants have in affecting forest management, through the following channels: (a) communicating with agency officials; (b) pressure on legislators; and (c) administrative or court challenges (see Appendix). Mean response values differ in the predicted direction for citizens favoring preservation across all three channels, and these differences are statistically significant (see Table 3). [2] Mean response values differ in the predicted direction for citizen's favoring timber in channels (a) and (c), though these differences are not statistically significant.

Citizens' Perceptions of Influence

Analysis of influence must include not only officials' perceptions, but also the perceptions of those citizens who participate in agency policy making. Citizens were asked to indicate whether their actions were more likely to influence state or national agency policies. While some participants were not able to make such a comparison, because of limited involvement with one or the other agency, many did indicate their perceptions about influence (see Table 4). Results support Hypothesis 2; those favoring forest uses with economic benefits (timber) perceive greater influence on state forests, while those favoring uses with noneconomic benefits (preservation) perceive greater influence on national forests.

In Case 1, Ohio State Forests and Wayne National Forest, three of four (75%) respondents favoring preservation who attempted to influence both agencies perceive greater influence in national policy, compared to none (0%) in state policy. In contrast, no (0%) timber advocate who attempted to influence both agencies perceives greater influence in national policy, compared to one of two (50%) in state policy.

Similarly, in Case 2, Indiana State Forests and Hoosier National Forest, six of eight (75%) individuals favoring preservation who attempted to influence both agencies perceive greater influence on the national forest, while only one (13%) perceives greater influence on the state forests. But among timber advocates who attempted to influence both agencies, none (0%) perceives greater influence on national forest policies, compared to three of five (60%) who perceive greater influence on state forest policies.

A similar pattern appears in Case 3, Washington State Forests and Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The only preservation-oriented individual (100%) who dealt with both agencies described greater influence on the national forest than on state forests. In contrast, no (0%) timber advocate who attempted to influence both agencies indicated greater influence on national forests, while four of five (80%) indicated greater influence on state forests.

Finally, in Case 4, Oregon State Forests and Siuslaw National Forest, all four (100%) individuals favoring preservation who attempted to influence both agencies described greater influence on the national forest than on state forests. In contrast, all three (100%) individuals favoring timber who attempted to influence both agencies indicated greater influence on state forests.

Overall, 14 of 17 (82%) preservation proponents perceive greater influence on national forests, while just one of 17 (6%) perceives greater influence on state forests. In contrast, no (0%) timber proponent perceives greater influence on national forests, while 11 of 15 (73%) perceive greater influence on state forests. Thus evidence from the four cases suggests important differences in nonagency participants' perceptions of influence. These differences support Hypothesis 2; those favoring preservation perceive greater influence in national than state agency policies, while those favoring timber perceive greater influence in state than national agency policies.

This finding suggests that there are systematic differences in whose interests are favored at different levels of governance. As Peterson (1981) and Heclo (1978) argued, citizens pursuing noneconomic interests perceive greater influence at higher levels of governance, while citizens with economic goals perceive greater influence at lower levels. In fact, many of the calls for devolution of public forests from national to state control come from those with an interest in using forests for higher levels of economic development, while opposition to such measures often comes from citizens favoring environmental preservation (Short, 1989; Rauber, 1995; "Applying the O&C Breaks", 1996).

EXPLAINING PARTICIPATION PATTERNS

Data analysis presented above indicates that participation by citizens favoring preservation is higher on national forests, while participation by citizens favoring timber is higher on state forests. Subsequently, the influence of preservation interests is perceived to be greater on national forests, while the influence of timber interests is perceived to be greater on state forests. What accounts for such differences? Crucial explanatory factors include legal constraints, agency staff composition, use outcomes, geographic location of stakeholders, and job mobility.

Unlike state officials, national officials are required by the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to provide formal processes for soliciting public participation and input. In fulfilling these requirements, national officials provide more mailings, public meetings, and other efforts to encourage public input than do state officials (Koontz, 1999). Pro-preservation individuals are likely to use these channels in communicating with agency officials, especially if they perceive that such communication can influence forest policy. In contrast, pro-timber individuals are less likely to communicate with national officials through these channels, as they often are frustrated in their perceived ability to influence policy. Recall, as described above, the comment from one timber proponent in Case 3 who cited frustration in making significant efforts to provide detailed comments that are given no more weight than comments from many other interests. Another timber pro ponent explained, "The national folks like to play the numbers game, saying 'We had X number of people at this planning meeting representing many different interests.' But the input they get doesn't matter in setting policies--the real decisions are made in Washington [D.C.]." Clearly, citizens favoring timber make less use of these channels than do citizens favoring preservation.

Another legal constraint that favors the influence of preservation over timber interests in national policy making is the appeals process established under NFMA and NEPA. The appeals process allows those opposed to timber harvesting and other vegetative manipulation activities on national forests to halt or delay such activities. In contrast, no laws or regulations can force national officials to provide timber. Thus, for the national forest, the deck is stacked in favor of those wishing to block timber sales. In fact, in the last few years, numerous appeals from those favoring environmental preservation have led to delays in national forest officials putting planned sales up for bid. On state forests, however, the opposite is true: few laws or regulations provide for preservation interests effectively to pursue administrative appeals of decisions to sell timber, so the deck is stacked in favor of those who prefer timber sales.

In addition to legal constraints, agency staff composition plays an important role in patterns of communication and perceived influence. Citizens favoring preservation reported feeling more comfortable and influential in communicating with officials specializing in non-timber aspects of forest management, such as botanists and wildlife biologists. These specialists, hired to perform nontimber work, can provide greater attention to watersheds, soil protection, species habitat, and other forest resources than can timber specialists and forester generalists responsible for a wide range of resources. Conversely, timber proponents indicated better rapport with timber program officials. State and national agencies differ in composition of personnel; state agencies include more personnel specializing in timber, while national agencies include more non-timber personnel. Thus differences in the range of agency staff positions foster different patterns of communication and perceived influence.

Another important factor contributing to differences in participation and influence across levels of governance is forest use outcomes. Most citizens favoring timber reported that their greatest levels of communication with agency officials occur during the course of timber sales. Through bidding, contract discussions, and harvesting activities, timber purchasers and loggers interact with agency officials to conduct timber operations. Since state officials provide much higher levels of timber than do national officials, timber proponents communicate more with state officials (Koontz, 1997b). This difference creates a feedback loop: timber interests communicate more with state officials, which reinforces higher state timber production, which, in turn, reinforces more communication with timber interests.

Another factor affecting participation and influence involves the geographic location of stakeholders. By definition, national forests belong to all United States citizens, while state forests are owned by state residents. Citizens outside a given state have standing to influence policy on a national forest, to which they can claim ownership, in that state more readily than to influence policy on a state forest, to which they cannot claim ownership. Most national forest stakeholders live hundreds or thousands of miles from a given national forest, while state forest stakeholders live in closer proximity. Differences in geographic location are associated with different forest policy goals; studies have shown that those living closer to a natural resource tend to favor its use for economic development, while those living further away are more likely to support preservation (Nash, 1982; Tremblay and Dunlap, 1978; Lowe and Pinhey, 1982). Therefore it is not surprising that environmental interests are more active and influential on national forests. As one citizen said, "Environmental groups have a bigger impact at the national level, because for thirty-two cents [the price of a postage stamp] anyone in any state can hold up a timber sale on any national forest."

Finally, an important factor affecting patterns of communication and perceived influence is job mobility. State officials tend to remain in one location longer than do national officials (Koontz, 1999). Thus they are more likely to forge long-term relationships with forest neighbors, who are more likely to favor commodity use of a forest than do those living further away. As one timber proponent indicated, "National officials tend to move in and out a lot, so we don't know them as well as the state officials." Several citizens indicated long-term friendships with particular state officials that helped them to affect policy, and one citizen said that an effective way to increase one's influence in state decision making is to build good relationships with field-level officials. These comments suggest that an important avenue for influence is building long-term relationships with officials, which is easier with those officials who remain at a particular forest for a longer period of time.

CONCLUSION

Participation debates strike a fundamental chord in assessing democratic governance. The question of citizens' role in affecting the day-to-day affairs of government officials is an important one, especially as the complexity and extent of agency responsibilities increase. On the one hand, citizen participation in shaping bureaucratic activities can be viewed as a vital link between governing and governed. On the other hand, public involvement may be time-consuming and costly, and it may reduce the ability of technical experts to base decisions on their professional judgment.

Empirical analyses illuminate this normative debate. Sound recommendations about citizens' role require a thorough understanding of participation patterns among those with competing policy goals. In an era when the assignment of responsibility among different levels of governance in many policy sectors is being reconsidered, it is crucial that we compare citizen participation across levels in a federal system. This study provides such a comparison, focusing closely on a policy area in which both state and national levels of governance exercise authority.

Results of this study indicate important differences among competing interests across levels of governance. Citizens favoring economic goals more actively participate, and perceive greater influence, at the state level. Citizens favoring noneconomic goals more actively participate, and perceive greater influence, at the national level. These differences are attributable to legal constraints, agency staff composition, use outcomes, geographic location of stakeholders, and job mobility.

Thus, normative arguments about the desirability of citizen input into agency decision making must move beyond philosophical issues. Citizen participation not only strengthens the link between governing and governed, but it also can substantially alter policy outcomes. There are practical policy reasons why environmental interests press for greater citizen input requirements at the state level: more citizen influence in forest policy affords greater opportunity to pursue nontimber forest benefits. Therefore, the perceived merits of greater citizen participation, typically cast as a policy process issue, depend on one's preferences over policy outcomes.

While this study clearly applies to public lands issues, it also provides insight into other policy sectors. Where economic and noneconomic goals conflict, opposing interests are likely to participate differently, with patterns of interactions and influence that vary across jurisdictions. When responsibility and authority are devolved to agency officials at lower levels of government, we should expect that citizens favoring economic goals will be more active and influential. Conversely, when responsibility and authority are vested in higher-level government agencies, we should expect that citizens favoring noneconomic goals will be more active and influential. This expectation merits further empirical analysis across policy sectors. For example, environmental and other regulatory policies involve trade-offs between economic development and goals such as clean air and citizen health. Similarly, debates in health care policy center on cost savings versus full coverage, while those in welfare policy often focus on cost savings versus assistance to all needy individuals. Through investigation of citizen input and influence across policy sectors in different levels of governance, we can better inform debates about the merits of citizen participation in a federal system.

Tomas M. Koontz received his Ph.D. in Public Policy from Indiana University. Dr. Koontz has published in Publius: The Journal of Federalism. Currently, as a post-doctoral research associate at the Center for the Study of Institutions, Population, and Environmental Change, he is combining social science with remote sensing and GIS tools to understand private land use activities and associated land cover change.

NOTES

(1.) Unfortunately, neither state nor national officials in Case 1 were asked to do this.

(2.) Statistical testing used two-sample t-test procedures. T-values and corresponding p-values were calculated for a one-tailed test. USDA Forest Service. (1993).

(3.) Forest Statistics for Ohio. Radnor, PA: Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 12-13.

(4.) USDA Forest Service. (1990). Indiana's Timber Resource. St. Paul, MN: North Central Forest Experiment Station: 1-8.

(5.) U.S. Department of Commerce. (1995). Regional Economic Information System (CD-ROM). May. Washington, DC: Economics and Statistics Administration, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Regional Economic Measurement Division.

(6.) U.S. Department of Commerce. (1995). 1992 Census of Manufactures, Industry Series, Logging Camps, Sawmills, and Planing Mills (CD-ROM). Washington, DC: Economic and Statistics Administration, Bureau of the Census.

REFERENCES

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              Officials' Descriptions of Their Communications
                (number and percent of officials indicating
                    that they communicate most with the
                     following citizen interest types)
Agency               Timber  Preservation Recreation Total
Case 2
  National           0 (0%)    4 (57%)     3 (43%)     7
  State              1 (20%)   1 (20%)     3 (60%)     5
Case 3
  National           0 (0%)    5 (50%)     5 (50%)    10
  State              1 (20%)   1 (20%)     3 (60%)     5
Case 4
  National           2 (25%)   4 (50%)     2 (25%)     8
  State              8 (80%)   1 (10%)     1 (10%)    10
Total, all national  2 (8%)   13 (52%)    10 (40%)    25
Total, all state    10 (50%)   3 (15%)     7 (35%)    20
Source: Interviews with 45 agency officials.
Note: Data were not collected for Case 1.
              Citizens' Descriptions of Their Communications
              (number and percent of citizens indicating that
              they communicate most with the following agency
                                officials)
Citizen
Interest Type           National     State  Equal   Total
Case 1
  Preservation           4 (80%)   0        1 (20%)   5
  Timber                 1 (25%)   3 (75%)  0         4
Case 2
  Preservation           3 (38%)   4 (50%)  1 (12%)   8
  Timber                 0         5 (100%) 0         5
Case 3
  Preservation           4 (67%)   2 (33%)  0         6
  Timber                 0         4 (80%)  1 (20%)   5
Case 4
  Preservation           4 (100%)  0        0         4
  Timber                 1 (25%)   3 (75%)  0         4
Total, all preservation 15 (65%)   6 (26%)  2 (9%)   23
Total, all timber        2 (11%)  15 (83%)  1 (6%)   18
Source: Interviews with 41 citizen participants.
               Mean Response Values, Officials' Perceptions
                of Citizen Influence Through Three Channels
Citizen                                National Officials
Interest Type                               Mean [*]      St. Dev.  N
Channel 1: Contacting agency personnel
  Timber                                      2.90          0.94   31
  Preservation                                3.10          0.83   31
Channel 2: Pressure on legislators
  Timber                                      3.16          1.21   31
  Preservation                                3.32          0.98   31
Channel 3: Administrative
appeals or court challenges
  Timber                                      2.84          1.13   31
  Preservation                                3.32          1.08   31
Citizen                                State Officials
Interest Type                               Mean       St. Dev. N [*]
Channel 1: Contacting agency personnel
  Timber                                    3.15         0.83    33
  Preservation                              2.75         1.05    32
Channel 2: Pressure on legislators
  Timber                                    2.94         1.01    32
  Preservation                              2.78         1.26    32
Channel 3: Administrative
appeals or court challenges
  Timber                                    2.94         1.25    33
  Preservation                              2.72         1.30    32
Citizen                                Difference
Interest Type                          in Mean [c] p Value
Channel 1: Contacting agency personnel
  Timber                                 -0.25     0.1341
  Preservation                            0.35     0.0757 [*]
Channel 2: Pressure on legislators
  Timber                                  0.22     0.2148
  Preservation                            0.54     0.0313 [**]
Channel 3: Administrative
appeals or court challenges
  Timber                                 -0.10     0.3683
  Preservation                            0.60     0.0248 [**]


(a.)Values are integers from 1 no influence) to 5 (high influence).

(b.)Response rate varies by question: 64/75 (85%) channel 2 and 65/75 (87%) channels 1 and 3.

(c.)Positive values indicate higher national mean; negative values indicate higher state mean.

(*.)Significant at the .10 level.

(**.)Significant at the .05 level.

Source: Standard questionnaires (see Appendix).
                  Citizens' Perceived Influence on Forest
             Policy (number and percent of citizens perceiving
                 more influence with the following agency)
   Citizen
Interest Type       National   State     Equal  Total
Case 1
  Preservation       3 (75%)   0 (0%)   1 (25%)   4
  Timber             0 (0%)    1 (50%)  1 (50%)   2
Case 2
  Preservation       6 (75%)   1 (13%)  1 (13%)   8
  Timber             0 (0%)    3 (60%)  2 (40%)   5
Case 3
  Preservation       1 (100%)  0 (0%)   0 (0%)    1
  Timber             0 (0%)    4 (80%)  1 (20%)   5
Case 4
  Preservation       4 (100%)  0 (0%)   0 (0%)    4
  Timber             0 (0%)    3 (100%) 0 (0%)    3
Total, Preservation 14 (82%)   1 (6%)   2 (12%)  17
Total, Timber        0 (0%)   11 (73%)  4 (27%)  15
Source: Interviews with 41 citizen participants.


APPENDIX

I. DIFFERENCES ACROSS THE FOUR CASES

While it is not possible to claim full generalizability from the comparative study of four cases, careful case selection to increase variance can enhance generalizability. In this study, an important criterion for forest pair selection was variance on a number of factors. Primary differences can be seen in comparing forests in Ohio (Case 1) and Indiana (Case 2), in the Midwest, with forests in Washington (Case 3) and Oregon (Case 4), in the Northwest. Specifically, cases in the Midwest differ from those in the Northwest with regard to forest type, quantity of forested land, forest contiguousness, and timber industry size.

Forest type, identified by dominant tree species present, differs across the two regions. In the Midwest, the most common forest type is deciduous hardwoods. Specifically, the largest percent of the timberland across Ohio is in the oak-hickory group, followed by the northern hardwoods group, which includes maple and beech species. Together these groups comprise about 84 percent of the timberland in the state. [3] In Indiana, the dominant species group across the state is maple-beech, followed by oak-hickory, which together total 71 percent of timberland in the state. [4] However, in the Northwest region, conifers dominate. The most common forest type in both Washington and Oregon is Douglas fir and associated conifers.

Quantity of forested land also differs between these regions. In Ohio, 8 million acres of land is forested, which represents about 30 percent of the total state land area. In Indiana, 4 million acres, about 20 percent of the state land area, is forested. There is a significantly higher quantity of forest land in the Northwest. In Washington, about twenty million acres, nearly 50 percent of the state, is forested, while in Oregon, about 28 million acres, again nearly half of the state's land base, is in forest cover.

While the states in the Northwest have a higher quantity of forest land, they also have more contiguous forest land. Large blocks of forested area are located throughout the mountainous regions in both states. This is primarily a result of ownership history, as Theodore Roosevelt and other presidents designated national forests on land that had not yet left the public domain. In the Midwest, the national forests were pieced together several decades later, from abandoned private holdings, on land that had long been disposed of by the federal government.

Differences in the forest resource are reflected in the timber industries in these states. States in the Midwest have a substantially lower lumber and wood product value. In Ohio, lumber and wood production accounted for approximately $917 million in 1992, which was 0.4 percent of the gross state product. [5] Similarly, in Indiana, lumber and wood production in the same year were valued at $1,021 million, or 0.8 percent of the gross state product. In contrast, in Washington, lumber and wood production in 1992 totaled $3,078 million, or 4.9 percent of the gross state product, and in Oregon, these same industries accounted for $2,297 million, or 1.8 percent of the gross state product. The higher timber production values in the Northwest also are reflected in the size of the work force. Personnel employed in logging and lumber mills, in 1992, totaled 24,600 in Washington and 20,300 in Oregon, compared to just 2,800 in Ohio and 5,100 in Indiana. [6]

II. QUESTIONNAIRE INSTRUCTIONS

Please indicate, on a scale of 1 (not influential) to 5 (very influential), the amount of influence you believe that each of the following has on determining management activities on the forests(s) for which you have responsibility:
People favoring timber, through:
contacting agency personnel                5 4 3 2 1
pressure on legislators                    5 4 3 2 1
administrative appeals or court challenges 5 4 3 2 1
People favoring preservation, through:
contacting agency personnel                5 4 3 2 1
pressure on legislators                    5 4 3 2 1
administrative appeals or court challenges 5 4 3 2 1


Acknowledgment: The author wishes to acknowledge Clark Gibson and Charlie Schweik for helpful comments. Funding was provided by NSF grant number SBR-93 19835 and the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University.
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Author:KOONTZ, TOMAS M.
Publication:The Social Science Journal
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Jul 1, 1999
Words:8297
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