Citizens’ participation in public projects


Let’s talk about public projects!


By Stanisław Gasik

Warsaw, Poland


Public projects are executed with the involvement of public institutions to address the needs of society or specific groups within it. The public can directly benefit from the outcomes of these projects, such as the construction of roads, infrastructure development, the hosting of sports or cultural events, or improvements in educational programs. These projects are referred to as direct public projects. On the other hand, projects like the restructuring of public institutions offer benefits to the public indirectly, making them indirect public projects. Indirect projects include those in which citizens cannot be involved in any way, like those related to defense or intelligence activities. These are categorized as classified projects.

Public projects involve numerous stakeholders, for instance, contractors, politicians, and audit chambers. However, the most distinguished and arguably the most crucial group among them is the citizens of the country. There’s a broad range of citizen groups that can play roles as stakeholders in public projects, collectively known as public stakeholders. The most general category among them is the general public, as they have a stake in any public project since these projects are funded by citizens’ taxes. Another type of public stakeholders includes the beneficiaries of these projects. In the case of the largest projects or programs, the entire public can be viewed as the beneficiaries. A prime example of such a project is a nationwide election, where all eligible citizens have the right to express their will by selecting the most significant public representatives. Similarly, substantial infrastructure investments (e.g., constructing major airports), healthcare system reform, or projects to establish nationwide legislation have a significant impact on society as a whole. The beneficiaries of public projects can also be specific groups of citizens. The stakeholders of a school construction project are the residents of a particular neighborhood, and the same holds true for local transportation investments, such as constructing a local road or railroad, which primarily benefit local residents (though they may also pose problems for some of them, such as increased noise and pollution). The same principle applies to local cultural events. Due to the customization of public projects to meet the needs of individual citizens in the Service Tailoring phase of social development (Gasik, 2023c), the beneficiary of a public project can be an individual citizen.

The management of public projects should establish the frameworks and procedures for the involvement of public stakeholders. In certain projects, they should have a guaranteed ability to influence the selection of these projects – I discussed this in my article for PM World Journal (Gasik, 2023b). This level of involvement varies from the absence of public stakeholder participation to the direct expression of their preferences through participation in referendums.

This article focuses on the participation of public stakeholders in the execution of public projects, specifically from the point when the decision to carry out a project is made until its completion.

Getting organized for participation

Engaging individual citizens in projects typically lacks the influence to significantly shape how projects are carried out. Greater impact is achieved when groups of citizens exert their influence on projects through designated representatives.

The execution of public projects can lead to the emergence of interest groups associated with a particular project. For instance, residents of a specific neighborhood might create a pressure group regarding the construction of a supermarket. Citizens with specific viewpoints may establish advocacy groups for projects involving the relaxation or tightening of abortion laws.

Project stakeholders can also include pre-existing associations formed before project implementation. For example, stakeholders in road construction projects might encompass environmental groups and associations, as well as groups or associations representing drivers and road users. Stakeholders in sports-related projects, such as organizing championships or the Olympics, include sports associations, while projects related to the industry involve associations of producers.


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Editor’s note: This article series is related to the management of public programs and projects, those organized, financed and managed by governments and public officials.  The author, Dr. Stanisław Gasik, is the author of the book “Projects, Government, and Public Policy”, recently published by CRC Press / Taylor and Francis Group.  That book and these articles are based on Dr. Gasik’s research into governmental project management around the world over the last decade.  Stanisław is well-known and respected by PMWJ editors; we welcome and support his efforts to share knowledge that can help governments worldwide achieve their most important initiatives.

How to cite this work: Gasik, S. (2023). Citizens’ participation in public projects. Let’s talk about public projects, series article, PM World Journal, Volume XII, Issue XI, November. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/pmwj135-Nov2023-Gasik-Citizens-participation-in-public-projects.pdf

About the Author

Stanisław Gasik, PhD, PMP

Warsaw, Poland


Dr. Stanisław Gasik, PMP is a project management expert. He graduated from the University of Warsaw, Poland, with M. Sc. in mathematics and Ph. D. in organization sciences (with a specialty in project management). Stanisław has over 30 years of experience in project management, consulting, teaching, and implementing PM organizational solutions. His professional and research interests include project knowledge management, portfolio management, and project management maturity. He is the author of the only holistic model of project knowledge management spanning from the individual to the global level.

Since 2013, his main professional focus has been on public projects. He was an expert in project management at the Governmental Accountability Office, an institution of the US Congress. He is the author of “Projects, Government, and Public Policy,” a book that systematizes knowledge about government activities in the area of project management.

He was a significant contributor to PMI’s PMBOK® Guide and PMI Standard for Program Management and contributed to other PMI standards. He has lectured at global PMI and IPMA congresses and other international conferences.

His web page is www.gpm3.eu.

To view other works by Dr. Gasik, please visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/stanislaw-gasik-phd-pmp/