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Report card structure

On the basis of preliminary work undertaken in each of the four pilot countries, 70 indicators - split into 15 themes (listed below) - were developed during the workshop in April. To see the full set of indicators for each of these themes, and a brief explanation of each, please download the Indicators document.

Report card structure

Being objective

Many citizen report cards use either (i) a market-research methodology (standard questionnaire, formal stratified random sampling etc) or (ii) focus group discussions closer to other types of participatory research (e.g. 'PRA'). Whichever of the two methods is used, they both generally ask the question: "is the service provider performing?" The problem is that this is a subjective question -- different people will interpret performance in different ways and will have vastly different opinions. For the information to be relevant and reliable, you need to have a means of 'averaging' (through sampling) or justifying (through face-to-face focus group meetings between citizens and officials) the data.

The transparency report card developed for this project is different from other citizen report cards in that it is based on objective 'yes-no' questions. This is intended to make it much quicker and easier to gather objective data, as a starting point for other advocacy activities (including discussions with officials.)

The yes/no structure

In theory, each question for which you require a yes/no answer should be very straightforward.

For example, "Is this piece of information in the public domain?" The answer to this question would either be:

Report card structure

However, we have to apply caution; creating a report card is not as simple as handing out a citizen's scorecard to local groups and asking them to complete it. Although this might help to provide some of the answers, it would not give us the full picture. For example, the mere presence of a document does not mean that the document is used, followed, understood, let alone complete, coherent, or written in an appropriate language.

Also, answering questions such as this one is much simpler if we are referring only to single documents that apply to the whole country (such as a national land-use map.) But it becomes more complicated when we move down to a more local level. As an example, let's say there is a generic logging contract document that is available to all, but specific contracts that are only made available to local affected stakeholders. In this scenario, can we say a document is in the public domain if Community A have been given a copy by their local forest office, but Community B has been denied it?

So there are some limitations and to help overcome these, it helps to adopt a range of complementary research techniques, including both community-based questionnaires and internet or office-based research.

The qualifying comments

Even a simple 'yes/no' approach can lead to quite a detailed set of questions. We expected many, if not most, answers to be 'yes... but' -- where the qualifying statements represent a country team's opinion. This may be their own subjective opinion, or the opinion may be more objective, based on the findings of community consultations, a survey or questionnaire.

Examples could be:

  • Q: "Is there a national forest forum?" A: "Yes, laws provide for forums and procedures but they don't function."
  • Q: "Are the final permit / contract documents made public?" A: "Yes, there is general information available, but there is not yet a central information system."
  • Q: "Are requests for information responded to in a timely way?" A: "No, but there is no agreement on what a reasonable timeframe would be."

Country research teams must then provide the evidence for their given answer, yes or no. The question "Do some forest communities condone illegality?" can only meaningfully be answered "yes" if examples are provided, or "no" if it can be demonstrated that any research undertaken has so far not been conclusive on this matter.

For each transparency indicator developed for this report card, seven qualifying comments were considered. The full description of each can be downloaded, but in summary these are:

  • Date -- of the publication(s)
  • Title -- of the publication(s)
  • Source -- the publisher and the website or other dissemination point
  • Language -- appropriate vernacular languages?
  • Accuracy -- errors? clear methodology / justification? any validation process?
  • Timeliness -- up-to-date?
  • Completeness -- covers the whole picture? any gaps or inconsistencies?

 


Continue to more details on each country team's methodology, or click on countries at the top of the page to see their results.

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