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How do we measure progress?

This question was posed via NCDD’s Idea Incubator by Denise O’Connor of Moving Perspective.  Use the comment field to share your thoughts with Denise.

In an era where what gets measured matters, how do we measure a movement towards more participatory forms of democracy or greater transparency? I’ve been in conversation with a municipality that is about to develop a Charter for Citizens Engagement. Part of the challenge is that councillors want to know how they will measure progress. Any ideas?

- Denise O’Connor

I am a consultant, perhaps about to become a municipal employee, working in stakeholder engagement work that spans from public consultations to the development of policy communities. You can find me on LinkedIn.

This post was submitted by a member of the NCDD community. NCDD members are leaders and future leaders in the fields of public engagement, conflict resolution, and community problem solving. You, too, can post to the NCDD blog by completing the Add-to-Blog form at www.ncdd.org/submit.

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  1. Lucas Cioffi says:

    Although it doesn’t discuss measurement directly, here are some practical “open government” steps that can be implemented at the local level: http://opengovernmentinitiative.org/directive/v1/

    Here’s an example of some rudimentary metrics by one of the leading federal agencies in the opengov space: http://www.hhs.gov/open/plan/opengovernmentplan/change/measure.html

    Measuring is one area the opengov movement still needs to innovate.

  2. Have you looked over the Assessment Tools category in the NCDD Resource Center yet, Denise? It’s at http://ncdd.org/rc/item/category/assessment-tools , and includes a few dozen tools.

    I just looked over the resources listed there, and here are a few that could be of particular relevance to your work:

    – Civic Index: Measuring Your Community’s Civic Health (http://ncdd.org/rc/item/65)
    – Making a Difference: A guide to evaluating public participation in central government (http://ncdd.org/rc/item/2752)
    – Standards of Excellence in Civic Engagement (http://ncdd.org/rc/item/2894)

    You might also consider using the Core Principles for Public Engagement document NCDD created in 2009 with IAP2 and the Co-Intelligence Institute (http://ncdd.org/pep).

  3. Also check out the broader Assessment “tag” in the NCDD Resource Center, Denise (http://ncdd.org/rc/item/tag/assessment). Though many of the resources listed here are more theoretical, right away I see some resources that could be useful to you…

    A Comprehensive Approach to Evaluating Deliberative Public Engagement

    This 2008 essay by John Gastil (professor in the Department of Communication, University of Washington) provides a definition of citizen deliberation and suggests broad categories for evaluation, including design integrity, sound deliberation and judgment, influential conclusions/actions, and other secondary benefits (e.g., positive changes to individual participants’ civic attitudes and improvement in local political practices). Evaluation methods are identified for measuring each of these evaluation criteria, and summary recommendations consider how to conduct a thorough, integrated project assessment with a small or larger evaluation budget. Download … (continue)

    So What Difference Does it Make? Mapping the Outcomes of Citizen Engagement

    This 72-page article by John Gaventa and Gregory Barrett was published in 2010 by the Institute for Development Studies. Over the last two decades, the idea that citizen engagement and participation can contribute to improved governance and development outcomes has been mainstreamed in development policy and discourse. Yet despite the normative beliefs that underpin this approach, the impact of participation on improved democratic and developmental outcomes has proved difficult to assess. Where previous research studies have attempted to demonstrate impact, they tend to be limited …

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