Monitoring & Evaluating Public Services

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M&E Public Services


Public services means the services provided by government to its citizens. Some services such as water, health care and education are considered so essential for human survival that they constitute a fundamental human right. The effective delivery of such services is crucial for poverty reduction and development goals. Public services can either be provided by the state directly, or through sub-contracted private service providers.

There is a growing recognition that to improve public service delivery, it does not suffice to concentrate merely on ‘supply side’ mechanisms. There is also a need to capacitate the ‘demand side’ of service delivery by ensuring that the users of public services are informed of their rights and entitlements and are enabled to exercise their rights by monitoring the quality of public services and holding the government and service providers accountable.

Experiences around the world has demonstrated that generating and using information on the performance of service providers by both government and non-governmental actors can lead to substantial enhancement of public transparency and accountability which in turn fosters adherence to higher quality standards in service delivery.

he tools included in this section are by and large participatory in nature used by citizens groups and communities to assess the performance of service providers and benchmark and monitor the quality of their services. .Unlike conventional approaches that rely on external experts measuring quality and performance against a pre-determined set of indicators, participatory monitoring and evaluation tools seek to engage members of the public in not only providing feedback, but also actively participating in the planning and implementation of the assessment. This helps to build the capacity of local people to analyze, reflect and take action. Some mechanisms offer more scope for active participation than others like for e.g. the Community Scorecards envisage active involvement of the group and allow participants themselves to identify indicators of quality and performance. On the other hand, tools like Citizen Report Card is less participatory since it uses a standard public survey methodology covering larger samples thus allowing for wider generalization of findings.



Some of the key benefits of participatory monitoring and Evaluation tools are:

  • Direct and objective user feedback to service providers
  • local stakeholders become active participants and not mere sources of information;
  • Increased awareness of rights and entitlements amongst community members;
  • Armed with objectively generated knowledge and quantified information, communities/citizen become empowered to hold governments and service providers accountable; and
  • Improved quality of services and public works.



Experience of applying participatory monitoring and evaluation of public services has shown that:

  • The generation of accurate knowledge on user experiences and perceptions is a crucial prerequisite to demand reforms in the service delivery mechanisms and public accountability of the service providers;
  • For such knowledge have a reasonable impact, it needs to be widely disseminated and discussed in the public domain;
  • Effectiveness of participatory monitoring and evaluation tools is contingent upon participation of the service providers in the process from the very outset;
  • The degree of responsiveness of the service providers to the findings of citizen monitoring and evaluation is the key to success of such initiatives;
  • Media plays an important role in disseminating the findings and mobilizing the public opinion for pressurizing the government for reforms;
  • Like many other tools, for participatory monitoring and evaluations to be most effective, they must become a regular feature and get institutionalized although one-off interventions can also generate desirable impacts;
  • In an ideal scenario, participatory monitoring and evaluation initiatives serve to empower the citizens through their potential to elicit accountability of government agencies. However, their success depends on adopting a predominantly inclusive approach irrespective of class, gender, race and religion. Otherwise, these tools run the risk of getting subverted and dominated by powerful sections of society and further exacerbating the xisting social inequalities;
  • Cooption of the tool and the CSOs by the government and the resultant resulting tokenism/mechanization and lack of ownership amongst citizens is another risk these tools carry with them.



“Human Rights and Social Accountability” Social Development Papers, Number 86. John Ackerman (May 2005)

Exploring the linkages between rights based approaches to development and social accountability initiatives, this paper outlines some of the tools for monitoring and evaluation public services

South Asia Social Accountability Network: Social Accountability Curriculum

This site provides a useful overview of the concept and methodologies of social monitoring as well as links to other useful resources.

World Development Report 2004: Making Services Work for Poor People: World Bank (2005)

This influential World Bank report explores the need to improve service delivery through involving users in monitoring the service providers and describes several related best practices


1 Stakeholder Surveys
2 Citizen Report Cards
3 Community Score Cards
4 Community Monitoring & Evaluation
5 Social Audits
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