The Local Government Councils’ Scorecard Initiative (LGCSCI) is a strategic social accountability initiative designed by ACODE to strengthen citizens’ capacity to demand for accountability in service delivery and strengthen government’s capacity to respond effectively and efficiently to those demands. The Initiative is implemented in partnership with the Uganda Local Governments Association (ULGA).
The initiative’s action chain pivots around a demand driven theory of change premised on the argument that by monitoring the performance of local government councils, providing information about their performance to the electorate, and building citizens’ capacity to use that information to engage with the government officials, local governance and service delivery will improve. This increased demand for accountability from citizens, which CSOs and local governments will channel upwards to the national level, will ultimately result in a more engaged citizenry, a more responsive government, better performing local government officials, and more effective public service delivery as illustrated here.
Given LGCSCI’s focus on effective service delivery, citizens, as the end users of these services, are the initiative’s ultimate beneficiaries. However, the district council organs including the District Council, District Chairperson, Speaker of Council, and individual District Councillors, who are the center of the scorecard assessments, directly benefit from LGCSCI as they are the focus of the scorecard assessment and the target of numerous capacity-building activities. These government officials constitute the highest organs in the district vested with powers to plan and oversee implementation of services within the district. Capacity building initiatives also target local civil society organizations who are the link between the electorate and the local government councils.
Component 1: Research and Performance Monitoring
The initiative pivots on the Local Government Councils’ Scorecard, an in-house assessment tool designed to guide the assessment of local government council performance. The Scorecard indicators are derived from the principle roles and responsibilities of the local councils as stipulated in the Local Government Act. The tool is purposely designed to assess the council organs in four categories: the District Council, District Chairperson, Speaker of Council, and individual District Councilors. The tool evaluates the leaders’ roles in four main performance areas: i) the legislative function; ii) contact with the electorate; iii) participation in Lower Local Governments; and iv) oversight over government-funded development programmes aligned with the National Priority Programmes Areas (NPPAs). The assessments which are undertaken on an annual (Financial Year) basis aim at enhancing the capacity of these organs to fulfill their mandates. ACODE’s policy agenda on local governance is largely driven by the findings and recommendations from the scorecard assessments. The outcomes of the annual assessments are compiled to generate three categories of research products used to inform two different target groups: i) the district specific reports; ii) the policy briefing papers: and iii) the national synthesis report.
Component 2: Outreach and Capacity Building
We believe that citizens are a critical catalyst in ensuring good governance and effective service delivery. Citizens therefore form the basis of change in LGCSCI’s theory of change. As such they need to be empowered first with knowledge of their own rights and responsibilities; second with knowledge of the roles and responsibilities of their leaders; and third how they can contribute to the development process in their communities through: (a) Citizen Engagement Meetings (CEMs) are specifically designed to bridge this knowledge gap while at the same time build the capacity of citizens to participate in monitoring the services; (b) Civic Engagement Action Plans (CEAPs) is another unique civic engagement tool designed by ACODE to build the capacity of citizens to use the mechanisms of civic engagement to demand effective delivery of services; (c) Local Government SMS platform, a unique in-house initiative designed to foster communication between citizens and their elected leaders on issues of service delivery. The platform, which is deliberately funded and managed by ACODE, enables citizens communicate to their leaders their service delivery needs in real-time and for the leaders to respond at no or minimal cost.
Component 3: Advocacy
The LGCSCI advocacy agenda focuses on engaments with stakeholders through public dialogues and strategic meetings based on, largely, findings from the annual district performance assessments. The establishment of strategic partnerships with national bodies like the Uganda Local Government’s Association, Ministry of Local Government and Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development has fostered ACODE’s policy advocacy.