During the monitoring preparation stage, groups should:
- Determine the goals, objectives and results for the monitoring project;
- Develop a strategy, work plan, timeline and reporting mechanisms to guide the project’s activities;
- Develop benchmarks based on the government’s outlined plan for implementing the decision. If there is no implementation plan, develop a reasonable one based on the political context and government capacity. These benchmarks will guide the coalition’s monitoring activities;
- Create standard monitoring tools, such as a monitoring worksheet, so that information will be collected uniformly; and
- Assign specific roles and responsibilities for collecting and analyzing information.
During this stage, it is important to conduct research to determine the procedures, timelines, and background information of the target government process to develop an effective monitoring methodology and plan, design monitoring tools, and consider entry points for monitoring. Civic groups must also clearly define the target audience and how to engage them to design the monitoring tool and types of targeted questions that support the monitoring goal. You can find more information about developing clear and effective monitoring objectives and methodology in Section II of this guide.
When the target government decision, policy or program extends across issue areas and geographic regions, monitoring coalitions are often better suited to monitor government follow-through. Coalitions combine the strengths of civil society organizations with varied interests, expertise and geographical reach. As such, coalitions are more likely than a single organization to be able to mobilize the expertise and resources needed to ensure that information can be collected over a sufficiently large geographical area and encompass the entire scope of a target political process.
Data Collection and Analysis Stage
Depending on the government decision, policy or program being monitored, CSOs can use a variety of methods and information sources to gather data. Some groups have collected data by:
- Examining government press releases and other public information sources;
- Submitting requests for information to government officials;
- Monitoring media coverage of the decision and its implementation;
- Conducting key informant interviews with citizens;
- Organizing informal dialogues with experts on the decision’s issue areas; and
- Holding meetings and roundtables with legislators to exchange information.
During the preparation stage, CSOs should develop standardized data collection tools for use in all areas of the data collection stage. This ensures that they can uniformly capture information from a variety of sources. Whether managed by a coalition or a single organization, the volunteers and staff members collecting information should use the same data collection tools to ensure that the same type of information is collected through the same methods — even if the issue areas are different. This makes it easier to sort and analyze the data once it is compiled and adds rigor to the research, therefore increasing the legitimacy of the findings.
If working as a coalition, member organizations may choose to carry out monitoring activities independently, periodically compiling and analyzing the data based on the implementation benchmarks developed during the preparation stage. These findings can then be presented to the rest of the coalition during regularly held meetings in order to compile information and share experiences across member organizations. This information can then be organized and analyzed by a smaller group of each organization’s staff.
Monitoring Communications Stage
In most cases, individual groups and coalitions have used the gathered information and the analysis to produce monitoring reports. Based on the data collected from various sources, these reports comment on how well the government has been implementing its decisions, highlighting both successes and implementation gaps, along with recommendations for improvement.
While these reports provide a useful picture related to follow-through, they can also serve to inform advocacy campaigns and awareness-raising at the local, national and even international levels. For example, groups may have wider campaign strategies designed to influence particular outcomes, such as reducing unemployment or improving services at health clinics. Groups have publicized reports through press conferences, the internet, newspapers, private discussions and roundtable discussions. These awareness-raising campaigns can apply the pressure of public scrutiny to influence the government to do a better job implementing the target decision or program.
Recommendations for Program Implementers
- Because policies are often complex and may encompass a variety of issues, groups should be realistic about the scope of their initiatives to monitor government follow-through. If they are not able to monitor the implementation of the government decision in its entirety, then the group should choose specific aspects on which to focus. Otherwise, a coalition of groups might be needed to monitor broader government undertakings.
- Monitoring government follow-through can be challenging when executive branch institutions and public service providers are reluctant to share information and answer directly to citizens. Groups have to be strategic in finding entry points, establishing relations and accessing useful information that can be used to draw objective conclusions about implementation processes.