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Consensus Building



Consensus Building : Consensus building is strategy that involves stakeholders in seeking agreement on an issue or issues. Consensus building always identifies a specific set of stakeholders who work together through dialogue and negotiation to seek agreement.

Form: Consensus building strategies usually take the form of a formalized, representative stakeholder group that sets ground rules, develops protocols or interaction, clarifies roles and responsibilities, jointly develops agendas, and deliberates over a series of meetings. Such groups are usually, but not always, facilitated by either an agency staff person with the requisite skills or an independent facilitator. Some times, the form is dictated and managed through the FACA process and sometimes it is even legislated (BLM RACs for instance).

Required: Typically not.

Number of Participants : Typically, consensus building strategies seek to identify a limited, specific number of individuals or organizations that can represent the views of stakeholder groups. Consensus building strategies are typically somewhat exclusive, identifying who are members, alternates, observers, and the general audience. Consensus building strategies face the challenge of how to assure representation of diverse and numerous viewpoints among a limited and workable number of active participants.

Kinds of Participants: Consensus building is typically geared toward both government and non-government stakeholders, be that other bureaus, other federal, state, and local agencies and governments, private industry, local governments, and/or NGOs.

Principles: Consensus building strategies typically involve numerous, diverse stakeholders, and seek to be inclusive and transparent. However, while more transparent and public than partnerships, they tend to be more exclusive than broad public participation (and more inclusive than partnerships). Public participation strategies can be an important part of a consensus building strategy.

Intent : Consensus building strategies are agreement seeking. The degree to which those decisions are advice or decisions that the agency is bound to in some way depend on how the strategy is employed (FACA advisory committees dispense advice only. Regulatory negotiations often bind the agency to any agreements reached during the formal rulemaking that follows). Consensus building is often used to make decisions on management or other plans, regulations, guidelines, policies, permits and licenses, NEPA documents, or other decisional, planning, or guidance documents. It may be used to address concerns and issues before conflicts or disputes arise, and also may be used as part of an overall strategy to resolve disputes involving an agency and its publics.