Citizen Cabinets

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Dr. Steven Kull, Founder and President of Voice of the People:

“The national Citizen Cabinet will consist of a base national sample of at least 800 citizens, plus state Citizen Cabinets of at least 400 citizens and district Citizen Cabinets of at least 300—a total of several thousand in the early stages, rising to 120,000 when it is fully built out. These citizens will be scientifically selected to be representative of each jurisdiction and will be connected through an online interface. Each Citizen Cabinet member will serve for 9-12 months, and Internet access will be provided to those who do not already have it.

On a regular basis, members of the Citizen Cabinet will go through an online public consultation exercise – called a ‘policymaking simulation’ because it simulates the process elected officials go through — on a pressing issue facing the federal government.

For each issue, Citizen Cabinet members will:

  • Get unbiased background information reviewed by experts and congressional staff from both parties
  • Hear competing policy options that are actually on the table and evaluate the strongest pro and con arguments
  • Choose from a menu of policy options or go through an in-depth prioritization process that requires making trade-offs, such as creating a budget
  • Finally, the Citizen Cabinets’ recommendations will be reported to their corresponding Members of Congress, the President, the news media and the public.”


More Information

  • The Center for Deliberative Democracy [1], housed in the Department of Communication at Stanford University, is devoted to research about democracy and public opinion obtained through Deliberative Polling.
  • Deliberative Polling, developed by Professor James S. Fishkin, is a technique which combines deliberation in small group discussions with scientific random sampling to provide public consultation for public policy and for electoral issues. A number of Deliberative Polls have been conducted in various countries around the world, including China, Japan, Britain, Italy, Bulgaria, Brazil and in the United States – some national and some local.
  • A related initiative, the Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP) is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. It gives ordinary people real power over real money, letting them work with government to make the budget decisions that affect their lives.
  • The National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation [2] formed to support the growing “dialogue and deliberation community — a broadly-defined community of practice involving practitioners, scholars, activists, public officials, nonprofit leaders, process geeks, students, and others who engage and mobilize people across partisan, ethnic and other divides.