Citizen panels are groups of randomly selected people who are asked to write a set of policy recommendations about risk management. This gives the chance for the public to learn about the issues, to learn about the policy process and to incorporate their values into the policy process.
The people selected are given about four days of education at the start of the process. All participants are given information through hearings, lectures, discussions, videotapes, and field tours. Several hundred citizens can be involved if they are separated into panels grouped into 20-25 people, all with the same programme and agenda. If most of the panels come up with similar conclusions, then the conclusion can be made that it is representative of the general public.
The citizen panel is an expensive and time-consuming method of obtaining feed-back on policy. Sometimes the issue is too complicated and technical to be delegated to the public but the process has been very succesful in many situations and should be considered.