Policy makers today rely primarily on technical data as their basis for decision making. Yet, there is a potentially underestimated value in substantive reflections of the members of the public who will be affected by a particular regulation. Viewing professional policy makers and professional commenters as a community of practice, we describe their limited shared repertoire with the lay members of the public as a significant barrier to participation. Based on our work with Regulation Room, we offer an initial typology of narratives -- complexity, contributory context, unintended consequences, and reframing -- as a first step towards overcoming conceptual barriers to effective civic engagement in policy making.
Cynthia R. Farina William G. McRoberts Research Professor in Administration of the Law
Cynthia Farina is the McRoberts Research Professor in Administration of the Law at Cornell University and a principal researcher in the Cornell e-Rulemaking Initiative (CeRI).
Her scholarship and teaching focuses on administrative law and electronic government, the presidency, and due process and separation of powers. Co-author of the leading casebook in administrative law, she is also a Lifetime Fellow of the Administrative Law Section of the American Bar Association and a member of the Administrative Conference of the United States.
A nationally known scholar of the administrative process, Professor Farina has served as reporter on a number of national administrative law projects. Most recently, she completed the report of a blue-ribbon cross-disciplinary committee who studied the emerging federal e-rulemaking system, to make recommendations to Congress and the new Administration. Previously, as one of the reporters of the European Union Project, she assessed the EU's use of the Internet to increase transparency of, access to, and participation in the Union's very complex government processes. As part of the multi-disciplinary CeRI team, she works with agencies in the Departments of Transportation and Commerce on theoretical and applied research, funded by the National Science Foundation, to improve agency management of and public access to e-rulemaking.
Following her graduation summa cum laude from Boston University School of Law, Professor Farina clerked for the Hon. Raymond J. Pettine, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island, and for the Hon. Spottswood Robinson, III, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit. She spent three years as a litigator in private practice before she joined the Cornell Law School Faculty.
B.A., summa cum laude, Ursinus College, 1976
J.D., summa cum laude, Boston University School of Law, 1980