The study guide is intended as a resource for local League study committees, to help presenters and facilitators knowledgeably answer questions that may arise during discussion, in a framework focused on reaching consensus. There is more detailed information included than you will want to present.
There are more questions about the privatization of government services, assets and functions than we can address in the limited time available for consensus. The Study Committee has focused the study materials on the policy issues that fall within the scope of the study as defined in our charge from the LWVUS Board.
A prime responsibility of the facilitator and the study committee will be to keep the discussion focused on the consensus questions and avoid distracting asides, however fascinating they may be.
Because privatization is occurring with increasing frequency within various government entities, it is not only a timely topic, but can be large and complex. Thus, your presentation should be carefully planned. If you are holding more than one meeting, it is suggested that you present and take consensus on each question at the same meeting. If it is your custom to present a workshop followed by consensus in one day-long event, you may choose either to do part of the background and take consensus in the morning and the other half in the afternoon, or do all of the background in the morning and consensus after lunch.
Getting to Consensus
Almost everyone is aware of a local or state government that has privatized some asset, function or service. Many showing interest in this topic are government officials and/or those affected when a government service, in particular, was privatized. While their insights are valuable, it is the responsibility of the facilitator(s) to keep the group focused on the consensus questions. The following are suggestions that have been found helpful in reaching this goal.
Before the consensus meeting, committee members should:
- Review the study materials on the LWVUS website
- Make sure that the consensus questions have been reviewed and save time at the end to make sure your information is sent to your local board for review and completing the online Consensus form at www.lwv.org
Understand the ingredients of a successful meeting
- There is a common focus on content
- There is a common focus on process
- The discussion leader or facilitator maintains an open and balanced conversational flow
- Someone is aware of protecting individuals from personal attack
- Everyone’s role and responsibility are clearly defined and agreed upon
In other words, everyone on the committee is on the same page.
Assign specific tasks to committee members. Decide:
- how much time to allot to each section of the discussion,
- who will present each part,
- who will facilitate the consensus part of the meeting if different from the presenters,
- who will be the recorder, and
- who will make sure the results of your consensus get to your LWV board for approval and be responsible for completing the online form at www.lwv.org.
Decide how to present the study material
Break the presentation into manageable chunks that everyone can understand. Be careful to explain jargon and acronyms. A variety of voices and styles help people stay focused. Be prepared to answer questions for clarification along the way. The material is complicated in some areas and you will want to check for understanding.
Schedule a practice session prior to the presentation/consensus meeting
Schedule a practice session for discussion leaders, recorders and facilitators. It is helpful to have an experienced League member present to help with timing and balance between background and discussion. The recorder should come away with what needs to be recorded and what to do with questions and opinions about topics not covered by the consensus questions. (Suggestion: Another sheet of chart paper labeled as “parking lot” where these may be noted for discussion at a later time.) Many Leagues with multiple units will hold training ahead of time for the unit leaders. This is very important so that the unit leaders understand the scope, are prepared for the discussion and understand the reporting procedures.
Make sure committee members are familiar with any positions your state or local League may have adopted, and also consult appropriate sections of the LWVUS Impact on Issues, 2010-2012: A Guide to Public Policy Positions.
It is important to be aware of any place where there might be a conflict and be prepared to discuss it. Copies of the local, state and national positions should be available for reference at the meetings.