tools directory

Citizen Report Cards

Citizen Report Cards

What situations is this tool used in?

Citizen Report Cards (CRC) are participatory surveys used to engage citizens in assessing public services such as health, education and transport – particularly where existing data is scarce. This can include the availability of services, access and usage, quality and reliability, problems encountered by service users, transparency in provision, costs, and suggestions for improvements. CRCs are designed to raise citizen awareness and ultimately bring about reforms in the public service delivery system. 

Who is this tool aimed at?

CRCs were pioneered by the Public Affairs Centre (PAC) in India, in an effort to assess deteriorating standards in Bangalore’s public services. They tend to be used by governments, civil society organisations and donor agencies, but require commitment by the relevant public agencies to take forward actions based on the findings. Media partners are key to ensure findings are widely disseminated.

How Is the Tool Used?

There are four broad phases to a typical CRC:

Preparation. This includes identifying the scope (services being assessed), actors (recruiting credible partners) and purpose, designing the questionnaire, and agreeing on the sampling process (design, size and scope).

Data collection. Trained field workers are used to carry out the survey.

Data entry and analysis. This tends to involve the use of statistical software to support the analysis.

Presentation and dissemination of findings. A report is produced and publicised with the help of the media. This may be accompanied by a joint meeting between service providers and users to engender ongoing dialogue.

In some cases, steps may be taken to institutionalise CRCs as a regular source of feedback for service providers.

Who has used the tool?

The Advice NI project documented in the case studies section used Citizen Report Cards to gather feedback from welfare recipients on the impacts of welfare reform in Northern Ireland.


The California Report Card has been developed through a partnership between the Democracy Initiative at UC Berkeley, the Lieutenant Governor of California, and CITRIS Data. It takes a slightly different approach to that of a traditional CRC, being based solely online, and with self-selecting participants. Since its launch in January 2014, more than 9,000 people have visited to assign grades to a range of public services in their area, providing an overall map of responses across the state of California.


California Report Card home page 

Where to find out more

Overview of Citizen Report Cards  

Citizen Report Card toolkits here and here

Citizen Report Card manual from Vietnam 

Northern Ireland Case Studies:

Accessible Transport

Future of Derry-Londonderry

Welfare Reform