Impact Practitioners

Six mechanisms to strengthen citizen engagement in public service governance

By 27/06/2024

This six-page systematic review brief by the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) seeks to determine whether engaging citizens in the planning, management and oversight of public services has a positive impact on service quality and access, and citizens’ well-being.

The review identifies the following six intervention types that strengthen citizen engagement through Participation, Inclusion, Transparency and Accountability (PITA) mechanisms to improve public services:

  1. Rights information provision. This provides information about citizens’ rights to access services or to participate in public service governance.
  2. Performance information provision. This provides citizens with information about the
  3. Performance of politicians or public service providers, including through the use of report cards.
  4. Citizen monitoring and feedback mechanisms. These are interventions to allow citizens to communicate feedback, concerns or priorities around service delivery to providers and/or to monitor the delivery of public services.
  5. Participatory planning. These are Interventions to introduce or facilitate citizens’ participation in public institutions’ decision-making processes, priority setting or budget allocation decisions.
  6. Community-based resource management. This involves letting a community group manage part of a natural resource, like water or forests, while the government keeps some control.

Citizen engagement is also particularly effective when the service in question is delivered directly to citizens by the relevant front-line staff, rather than indirectly.

If services are delivered indirectly, then citizen engagement interventions may need to work together with local civil society groups with recognised social capital.

Overall, this systematic review brief argues that engagement interventions for all types of public services may be able to increase citizen engagement, and improve access and quality of services. However, it is less clear whether they have consistent impacts on well-being and health. 

This article is part of our initiative, R2A Impact Practitioners. To find out more, please click here.