The Community Score Card (CSC) process is a community-based monitoring tool that is a hybrid of the techniques of social audit, community monitoring and citizen report cards. Like the Citizen Report Card, the CSC process is an instrument to exact social and public accountability and responsiveness from service providers. However, by including an interface meeting between service providers and the community that allows for immediate feedback, the process is also a strong instrument for empowerment as well.
It is important to understand that service delivery systems are ineffective, when Government functionaries are not accountable, when there is no focus on performance, no proper system of incentives for good work, stagnation etc, there is rigid mindset, de-motivated staff, lack of exposure to innovations, lack of effective monitoring and supervision, corruption and lack of information for decision making.
This is where the approach comes in. Community Score Card is a social accountability tool that helps the communities to:
- Assess the quality of service delivery; and
- Performance of the service provider.
As the name suggests, CSC is applicable at the local levels (field level units) where communities of users and unit-level service providers get an opportunity to work together to improve the efficiency of service delivery.
The key features of this community empowerment tool are as follows:
- Provides a forum for direct and constructive engagement between the service user and the service provider;
- Gives an opportunity for joint decision making;
- Gives immediate feedback to the provider on areas for improvement;
- Facilitates enhancement of quality, efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery.
- Promotes good governance (accountability, transparency, participation) in the process of public service delivery.
The implementation of a CSC exercise comprises of six key steps:
- Preparatory Groundwork
- Input-Tracking Scorecard
- Performance Scorecard by the Community
- Self-Evaluation Scorecard
- Interface Meeting
A quick overview is as follows:
Preparatory Ground Work: Stages
Identification of scope
- Identification of the service area, project, scheme, unit (district, mandal, taluk, etc.) for CSC implementation is a very critical factor, that includes identification of the service area with a lot of public interface, top management support, willingness to change, availability of information
Orientation Meeting of the Service Providers
- Orientation meetings with the service providers is required to make them aware of the process and its advantages. This meeting also helps in developing trust that the intention of the exercise is not fault finding but a joint effort to improve efficiency.
Meeting Community Representatives
It is important to meet with the community representatives (elected representatives, village leaders, influential members, key informants, SHG members, other CSOs) and explain to them the purpose (to work jointly towards improved service delivery) of the score card exercise and reason for engaging them in the exercise.
Identifying and Training of Facilitators
The Community Score Card is heavily dependent on the quality of the facilitation and mobilization undertaken. A good facilitator (having experience of conducting FGDs, knows the local language, and is comfortable with both users and providers) ensures that during scoring exercises there are no ‘dominant voices’ while arriving at a consensus on scores and providing reasons, either among the communities of users or among providers. S/he also ensures that the interface meeting between users and providers is conducted peacefully so that actionable conclusions can be arrived at.
Collecting Basic Data on Community
Before beginning the local engagement, some basic data on the community must be gathered like population data, services being provided to the communities, poverty profile, social profile etc., either through informal interviews by the facilitating team during scoping visits, or by using existing data.
Logistics needs to be planned – venue, number of participants, training material, food, water etc., must be organized for the field work. Usually, this work is carried out by those CSOs already working with communities on the ground.
Input Tracking Matrix
Decide and Obtain Information on Inputs to be Tracked
Decide what inputs would be tracked and obtain adequate data on them. In this case, many of the indicators were taken from the Citizen Report Card exercise that was carried out before the CSCs in the selected districts.
Inform Communities on their Entitlements
The next step is that the community should be informed about what their entitlements are, what is the budget allocation for the PHC, what recorded infrastructure and facilities should be available, etc.
The next step is recording the data collected about the receipt, use, or expenditure on inputs in the form of an input tracking matrix.
Performance Score Card by the Community of Users
- This is the second important step in CSC wherein the performance of a service/project is evaluated by the communities/users themselves.
- The community generated performance score card is a report on the quality of service delivery and reflects the general performance of the service provider as well.
- The performance assessment is based on indicators / criteria developed by the community on their own.
- The reasons for giving the scores are also documented as feedback from community.
Self-evaluation Score Card
- This evaluation is carried out by the service providers on their own performance. It brings out their own perspective of their performance.
- The assessment is based on indicators / criteria developed by the provider. The reasons for these scores are documented and become the basis for obtaining suggestions for change through greater trust and partnership, which is the objective of the process.
- It is important to understand their perspective since they sometimes work under numerous constraints
Interaction meeting and joint action plan
It is a public forum or meeting where the service providers and users gather in order to present their respective scorecards and discuss ways to improve service delivery. It enables the service users to present their evaluation of the service performance, along with their concerns and priorities regarding the service.
- Prepare both parties for the meeting
- Ensure adequate participation from both sides
- Presenting findings of both groups
- Brainstorming to come up with concrete changes/improvements
- Develop an Action Planning Matrix
- Divide roles and responsibilities for follow-up and monitoring
Repeat Community Score Cards
- The scorecard process is repeated after a mutually agreed upon period of time. The repeat process is usually easier and faster since everyone has prior experience.
- The main purpose of the repeat scorecard is to review progress and provide inputs for a revised action plan by:
- Scoring the indicators again to reflect any changes in performance
- Reviewing progress related to implementing the action plan
- Discussing any changes experienced in service delivery.