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Holding service providers to account: community scorecards and district-level forums

By: Clement A. Akasoba, Lance W. Robinson

In recent years there has been increasing interest in public accountability. ‘Public accountability’ implies that citizens have an input into government plans, policies and budgets, in tracking budgets and disbursements, and assessing the performance of government service providers.

One method for assessing the performance of service providers is the citizen report card. This uses the techniques of market research – particularly sample surveys of the ‘consumers’ of government services – and applies them to social (rather than commercial) ends. However, a limitation of this method is that it is essentially an extractive research approach. Researchers collect data from citizens, and take that data away to analyse and use it.

An alternative approach is the community scorecard method. Citizens are participants, providing the feedback on service providers themselves, analysing it, and directly expressing their concerns to service providers. The methodology is adapted from PRA and makes particular use of scoring techniques.

This article describes the community scorecard process used in the Information Flow, Accountability and Transparency (INFAT) project, managed by the Northern Ghana Network and three of its member organisations, with financial assistance from the Commonwealth Education Fund.  It focuses in particular on the use of district-level multi-stake-holder forums.