I n 1999, the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (USIECR) and the Policy Consensus Initiative (PCI) began an inquiry into
the feasibility of developing program evaluation guidance for state and federal agencies and programs that administer public policy and environmental conflict resolution programs. PCI is a national, nonpartisan organization that works with state leaders-governors, legislators, attorneys general, and state courts-to promote the use of consensus-building and conflict resolution practices to address difficult policy issues and achieve more effective governance. The inquiry started by USIECR and PCI has grown into a collaborative program evaluation initiative involving USIECR, the Massachusetts Office of Dispute Resolution (MODR), and the Oregon Dispute Resolution Commission (ODRC) with support from PCI. The project has also engaged the support of the Indiana Conflict Resolution Institute, Indiana University's School for Public and Environmental Affairs, Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and the University of Arizona's Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy.l
This chapter focuses on the design and implementation of this initiative to create a self-administered program evaluation system for state and federal programs. It provides an overview of this ongoing, multiyear initiative and the lessons we have learned to date. The potential benefits from this collaborative investment for the field of public policy consensus building and environmental conflict resolution are substantial.