Citizen report cards
Systematic feedback on service delivery, based on surveys.
The Citizen Report Card (CRC) is a simple but powerful tool to provide public agencies with systematic feedback from users of public services, including water supply and sanitation services. By collecting feedback on the quality and adequacy of public services from users,
the CRC provides a rigorous basis and a proactive agenda for communities, civil society organization or local governments to engage in a dialogue with service providers to improve service delivery. In the context of the water sector, the larger purpose of the report card tool is to use the survey results to advocate for improvements in the services provided and to further investigate the reasons behind
the provision of inadequate services. By repeating the exercise on a continuous basis, the change in performance can be monitored and compared.
Citizen Report Cards were pioneered in the Indian city of Bangalore. Frustrated by the poor quality of public services, a group of private citizens in Bangalore, India, decided in 1994 to undertake a survey to collect feedback from users of central and local government services including water utilities in the city. The services ranged from the police and government hospitals to the telephone, electricity, and water utilities. The success of this initial effort led to the creation of the Public Affairs Centre, which subsequently developed the methodology for the citizen report card and helped spread its use throughout the world.
PURPOSE & LINK TO INTEGRITY
- Collect citizen feedback on public services from actual users of a service.
- Assess the performance of individual service providers and/or compare performance of different service providers.
- Generate a database of feedback on services that is placed in the public domain.
- Use the results of the survey to advocate for improvements in the services provided and to further investigate the reasons behind the provision of inadequate services. By repeating the survey on a regular basis the progress of various managers and entities can be monitored and compared.
CONDITIONS / KEY REQUIREMENTS
The CRC methodology includes several steps, each with its own skill requirement. A reliable, independent institution is required to lead the effort. CRCs can serve as diagnostic, accountability or benchmarking tools to improve services. The methodology should not be seen as a social science survey leading to a written report. Findings must ideally be publicly distributed and followed up by local actors. CRCs are also most useful when repeated.
Various types of organizations have acted as lead institution for the CRC process including civil society organizations (CSO), government bodies, or independent consortiums. The lead institution manages and drives the CRC process. Since a variety of skill sets are required to carry out a CRC, the lead institution should be willing to seek help from other institutions.
The tool includes the following implementation steps:
- Assessment of local conditions: Evaluate local conditions to determine if suitable to implement CRC and assess the skills and motivations of the lead institution(s).
- Pre-survey groundwork: Identify the scope of the CRC, using focus groups, where necessary. Make preliminary implementation plans. Design and pre-test a questionnaire. Based on available data, the size of the study population is determined. A stratified sampling procedure is used to select the interviewees.
- Conducting the survey: stratified random sampling is used to identify the survey interviewees. Questionnaires are designed to collect quantitative data.
- Post-survey analysis: Determine key findings on availability, usage, satisfaction, etc. by collecting the responses to each question. These results are consolidated and presented in a survey report. Where relevant, the survey can compare the results among similar service providers of with earlier CRCs of the same organization.
- Dissemination of findings to key stakeholders: The findings are distributed primarily to affected stakeholders (such as the management and consumers of a water supply service provider) as well as to others, who may have role in acting on or publicising the findings (e.g. the regulator, government representatives, civil society organizations, the private sector and the media).
- Improving services: Use CRC findings to establish a dialogue between the service provider and its customers with the objective of bringing about improvements in service delivery. An enabling environment for such a dialogue could be a commitment by top management of the service provider to participate in an open dialogue with its customers based on the evidence presented in the survey report.
CRCs have been used in water integrity programmes, for example in Nepal and Mozambique.