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Master's Professional Reports Abstract



Consensus-Building in Public Policy: A Case Study of the Robert E. Lee Interceptor
Tiffany Reyes
REPORT 2000 R33 Public Affairs Library.

Consensus-building is a process by which decisions are made unanimously, rather than by majority vote, in an effort to incorporate all participants' major interests. It is a valuable tool in public policy decision-making because it can lead to creative solutions that maximize public benefits. However, appropriate use of consensus-building is necessary for the process to succeed. This report analyzes one such process used in the City of Austin to resolve community conflict in order to determine the improvement of wastewater facilities and the extension of wastewater service in a particular environmentally sensitive area. While the issue is fairly typical of a public policy consensus process, in that it involves complex, technical information, the issue really is about the control of urban sprawl through infrastructure and about protection of the environment and the city's water source. The report integrates consensus-building theory, because the Robert E. Lee Interceptor case study followed best practices and therefore itself illustrates good process. The report also offers insights on appropriate use of consensus-building as a public policy tool.