Best Practices for Inclusive and Intentional Public Engagement Initiative (BPIIPE)
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Best Practices for Inclusive and Intentional Public Engagement Initiative (BPIIPE)

Through extensive research and collaboration, the Public Involvement Section of TxDOT’s Transportation Planning and Programming Division (TPP) is nearing completion on the initial phase of the Best Practices for Inclusive and Intentional Public Engagement (BPIIPE) initiative. Following review of existing studies and best practices, surveys of both the public and other departments of transportation across the country, and internal discussion and consultation, TPP will release a new guidance document. This guidance will support project teams across the state in engaging all members of the public—particularly those who may have felt excluded or ignored in the past—in a manner that may help ease their participation and respects their time, effort and trust.

The BPIIPE initiative honors TxDOT’s commitment to involving all of Texas’ many and diverse communities in the planning and implementation of transportation projects and programs. It also supports the agency’s public involvement policy, which commits to purposefully involving the public in planning and project implementation and requires regular updates to public involvement methods. TxDOT aims to be a leading force of public involvement innovation and seeks to advance the nationwide discussion on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the development of transportation projects.

The purpose of BPIIPE

One of the biggest challenges facing organizations like TxDOT across the country is determining how to deliver equitable opportunities for communities to learn about projects and programs and how to encourage the public to provide feedback. BPIIPE not only strives to improve the effectiveness of public involvement activities but to do so in a way that allows project teams to identify potentially impacted communities and design outreach and engagement strategies that overcome the barriers to participation those communities face. This purpose guided every step of the initiative, particularly the public survey.

BPIIPE approach

TxDOT utilized a variety of techniques to develop a suite of best practices and resources for project teams across the state:

  • Formed an internal working group and hosted discussions to generate ideas and provide feedback on all components of the research approach.
  • Performed desktop research to identify common barriers to public participation and techniques to overcome those barriers.
  • Developed and executed a survey with transportation agencies across the country to understand how other states approach these same issues in both internal policy and external practices; nineteen different practitioners in fifteen different states provided input.
  • Conducted an online public survey, in partnership with the Institute for Demographic and Socioeconomic Research (IDSER) at the University of Texas, San Antonio. The survey addressed how Texans—particularly those in underserved communities—prefer to receive information, share feedback, and participate in engagement events. The survey’s findings were explored further in focus group discussions with respondents who volunteered to participate. The survey received nearly 12,000 responses and TxDOT reached a statistically valid participation goal from a wide range of target demographics: each of the three largest racial and ethnic minority groups in the state (Hispanic, Black/African-American, and Asian), people with disabilities, people from low-income households, and seniors.

BPIIPE guidance

The initiatives, findings, and insights resulting from this research have been synthesized into the BPIIPE guide. This reference document is written and designed for easy, effective, and efficient implementation by TxDOT’s project teams at both the state and district level, as well as any other organizations across the country conducting public involvement as part of their own projects.

The guide contains a checklist for planning effective public involvement, resources for building community profiles and forging partnerships with local stakeholders and advocates, guides for identifying and overcoming the most common barriers to public participation, printable flyers for stakeholders and the public to start the conversation on why their involvement is so vital to a project’s success, and more.

The BPIIPE guide will be added to this page in fall of 2023. This will be a “living guide” that continues to evolve.