|From:||Lenny Siegel <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Date:||21 Mar 2005 19:36:00 -0000|
|Subject:||[CPEO-MEF] Army launches Web site for ‘community partnerships’|
Army launches Web site for 'community partnerships'|
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 15, 2005) -- The Army has launched a new Web site to help strengthen partnerships between the Army and the communities around installations and ranges.
The Army Public Involvement Toolbox seeks to help meet the goals of the new Army Strategy for the Environment announced in October 2004, officials said.
The Web site was developed by a consortium of Army organizations to provide tools, methods, examples, and information related to public involvement.
The strategy highlights the necessity of involving the public if the Army is to meet its goals and achieve sustainability in the future, officials said. They said the site, like the strategy, places emphasis on the full range of activities needed to engage stakeholders with the "4Cs" of communication, coordination, consultation, and collaboration.
Viewers can access the site at www.asaie.army.mil/pitoolbox.
"As the Army Strategy for the Environment states, 'the sustainable futures of our installations and our communities are inextricably connected,'" said Geoffrey Prosch, acting assistant secretary of the Army for Installations and Environment. "This new strategy mandates that the Army change how it communicates, moving beyond simply informing others of our activities, to actively collaborating with the public to forge mutually beneficial solutions regarding the limited resources we all share."
The primary purpose of the Web site is to provide Soldiers, Army civilian staff, and Army contractors engaged in public involvement with functional, proven techniques and information, according to the Army Environmental Policy Institute.
The site is publicly accessible to reinforce the Army's commitment to public involvement, as well as to share information across other government agencies engaged in these type of activities, institute officials said.
"This is an initiative that intends to foster collaboration, and it has truly been a collaborative effort from the start," said Karen Baker, senior fellow for strategic policy at the Army Environmental Policy Institute.
Baker pulled together the Army Public Involvement Committee, a team of Army organizations engaged in public involvement. The committee sought to build upon recommendations from an Army senior leadership panel which had identified the need for more "how to" resources in engaging the public on environmental issues.
As the committee assembled material and developed content for the Web site, it consulted with other federal agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, state agencies, and several non-governmental organizations.
"The most exciting thing about this project was the enthusiastic feedback from all of the partner organizations," said Baker. "Every time we met, more people came to the table, and every time we showed the test site to a group, we were provided with more resources and ideas."
"From the beginning, we made a conscious effort to avoid reinventing the wheel," Baker said, noting that a great deal of excellent information on best practices developed by the Army, and by other organizations already existed. The challenge was making it easier for Army personnel to find information so they can develop plans and programs that meet their local needs and issues.
The project team selected content for the Web site with an emphasis on providing practical, hands-on information and organizing the information into functional 'buttons' for easy, quick linking to the information.
Viewers can quickly access guides on specific public involvement activities, locate training opportunities, find the latest regulations and policy statements on public involvement and link to other resources created by other agencies. The site is designed for frequent updates, Baker said, with viewers providing suggestions for future Web postings through an e-mail feedback feature.
"The project team combined the excellent work already done by many Army organizations to create a "one-stop shop" for all army practitioners, that extends far beyond the environmental arena. The techniques and material can be applied to any issue in which the Army would need to actively engage with the public," said Col. Richard Breen, director of Community Relations & Outreach for Army Public Affairs.
Launching the Army Public Involvement Toolbox is only the first initiative for the Army Public Involvement Committee, officials said. The group also is creating pilot public involvement training courses and making recommendations on how to incorporate public involvement practices into Army policy.
"The tool box is a great start to raising awareness and providing resources to the field, but it is only our first step in making the ‘4C’ concept a reality," said Ray Fatz, deputy assistant secretary of the Army (Environment, Safety and Occupational Health). "We have much work to do to ensure that involving the public becomes part of how the Army does business."
(Editor's note: Information provided by the Army Environmental Policy Institute.)
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