New York City has created an Office of Engagement to help coordinate community engagement among city agencies, according to a city press release on Tuesday.
The new office aims to use community engagement to inform policy and program decisions. It is also tasked with improving community engagement across agencies and supporting “community-driven solutions,” the city said. Betsy MacLean will serve as its chief engagement officer and oversee the city’s main engagement offices, including the Community Affairs Unit, Civic Engagement Commission, Public Engagement Unit and NYC Service.
“We are committed to ensuring that New Yorkers have the tools they need to better engage with government and access its benefits, but to also do it in a more streamlined, simple-to-use manner,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement. “The newly created Office of Engagement will ensure that we continue to collaborate, coordinate, and prioritize engagement across all agencies and that New Yorkers have a say in our policies, priorities, and resources.”
New York City and other local governments are increasingly trying to engage their residents to operate more efficiently and improve the quality and equitable distribution of services. Earlier this year, NYC Speaks, a $2 million citywide initiative for civic engagement funded by a public-private partnership, surveyed residents throughout the city to inform the city’s policymaking. According to the survey, with priorities differing among age groups, New Yorkers’ top concerns are ensuring access to affordable and safe housing, improving transit and bettering public safety through more policing, healthier police-community relations and enhanced public spaces.