Evaluating Citizen Participation

Posted by Erin Routson

Recent attempts to increase citizen participation in government, specifically those inspired by the federal Open Government Inititative, are laudable, but do they work?

A new report from the IBM Center for The Business of Government and Tina Nabatchi of Syracuse University —”A Manager’s Guide to Evaluating Citizen Participation” — offers a roadmap for assessing the efficacy of such programs. Nabatchi identifies two complementary forms of evaluation:

  • Process evaluations can help managers better understand and improve the implementation and management of a citizen participation program.
  • Impact evaluations can help managers determine whether the citizen participation program reached its intended audience and produced its intended effects.

These two evaluation axes are charmingly summarized as “what?” and “so what”: what is a program designed to do and what did it deliver, and what were the actual outcomes of the service delivery.

In addition, the report suggests questions regarding service delivery that focus on service participants and what can be done to more accurately and effectively help them within their roles. It also contains an appendix of Evaluation Design Worksheets that can be used by facilitators to track this information. Some dynamite ideas here for service designers looking to demonstrate the value of design processes in the public sector!

For more information and to download the PDF, click here.