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Local governments often use appointed policy boards or citizen advisory committees (CACs) to engage people in the democratic process. These boards may be established to respond to community-generated issues, including identifying priorities, considering and recommending actions, and evaluating outcomes. Even though these bodies are used widely, developing and integrating their work into the governmental process remains challenging for many local governments.

Part of the Local Government Board Builders series, this new book and accompanying electronic files provide practical guidelines for local elected officials responsible for establishing policy boards and advisory committees. The book includes tips on evaluating costs/benefits of CACs, worksheets for assessing whether or not to establish a CAC, and options for creating a model policy.


“The questions and tips in this book provide a comprehensive framework for assessing the benefits, costs, and challenges of advisory boards. The book will be useful to local governments when creating new advisory boards, and helpful in ensuring boards’ continued effectiveness as they adapt to changing conditions and priorities.”Bernadette Pelissier
Orange County Board of Commissioners


“Advisory committees are the core organizational tool by which local government filters and incepts ideas, policies, rules, and practical decision making. These volunteer citizen groups represent the true essence of how government works and are an integral part of our democracy. This book covers the purpose of citizen advisory committees (CACs) along with helpful tips on creating a positive, healthy relationship between these boards and local elected officials and their staff. It provides an in-depth perspective and includes questions that practitioners and local elected officials should consider when creating new CACs or analyzing existing boards. Dr. Upshaw has proffered a simple yet detailed approach for organizing and empowering citizen groups in the democratic process.”Lloyd Wm. Payne, Jr., ICMA-CM
Town Manager
Town of Elkin

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Vaughn M. Upshaw
Board Builders