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Citizens evaluating local services and facilities in Southern Italy

Change management

The project was coordinated by the Department for Public Administration and Innovation which chaired the working group consisting of representatives of the agency FormezPA, the citizen and consumer assocation Cittadinanzattiva and the Foundation Fondaca which specialises in research on public participatioin.


In the first phase of the project, started in November 2009, a focus group at national level discussed the elements, dimensions and indicators of urban quality. The focus group consisted of public managers, citizens, members of citizen associations and technical and professional experts who were considered to be “issue experts”. The focus group participants agreed on the following elements of urban quality:


  • Public safety
  • Access, suitability, affordability of public services
  • Information about public services
  • Subsidiarity
  • Inclusion of disadvantaged citizens
  • Social events
  • Street cleanliness
  • Connectivity
  • Solid waste
  • Maintenance of green space and roads

As a next step, on the basis of the focus group outputs, the working group defined one or several quality dimensions for each of these issues (for example, for the issue public safety the dimensions are: physical safety of people and safety of public infrastructure). Last but not least, the quality indicators were defined in order to operationalise the quality dimensions – for example, for the dimension “safety of public infrastructure” two indicators were defined:



  1. Number of houses declared unfit for use (this information needed to be provided by the local authority concerned)
  2. Number of threats to safety on the selected road (this information had to be provided directly through the monitoring by citizens – e.g. potholes on the road surface, broken pavements, wrecked steps, inclining poles).


The working group worked with representatives of Cittadinanzattiva to prepare the tools for the civic evaluation, including an operational manual and monitoring grids. Finally, in January 2010  the civic evaluation started with a kick-off seminar in Rome. The participants included public managers from 14 local authorities of the four southern regions of Italy (Campania, Calabria, Puglia and Sicily) who volunteered for the project, as well as local citizen representatives of Cittadinanzattiva.


Now the challenge was to get citizens engaged. The local authorities and the local representatives of Cittadinanzattiva marketed the project through a declaration of intent which was widely promoted through all of their communication channels. Not surprisingly, the take-up was particularly positive in those local authorities which were able to embed the evaluation project in other participation initiatives and which already had a strong network of associations at local level, e.g. San Severo. In other local authorities with weaker social capital the participation by citizens in the project was considerably lower. For example, in the local authority of Mazara del Vallo e Salaparuta (about 50,000 inhabitants) in Sicily initially 40 citizens responded to the invitation of the local council but in the end only seven citizens took part in the project.


In each of the four regions interested citizens were then invited to a joint one-day seminar with representatives of the Department, the local council and Cittadinanzattiva. In the first half of the seminar the participants learnt about the overall purpose of the project, in the second half of the day they were trained on how to use the monitoring grid.


After the training, the citizens involved, together with the local representatives of Cittadinanzattiva, decided collectively that those areas should be monitored, which were seen as particularly important for the local authority (for example because they contained important public buildings, a train station and so on). The citizen monitoring then started, either involving the observation of specific aspects of public services or infrastructure or simply requesting public agencies to provide data which they already collected. For example, taking the example of the indicator “number of threats to safety on a chosen road”, this involved reporting on the monitoring grid the number of potholes, incidents of unsafe pavements, dangerous steps and abandoned scaffolding. Again, in respect of the indicator “availability of public urban transport from and to the monitored local area” (as part of the issue “connectivity”) citizens checked the availability of and ease of access to public transport at key local points, such as the hospital and the train station, based on their analysis of public transport timetables.


Once the participating citizens had filled out the monitoring grid (which had to be done within two months), they met together to agree the overall assessment and to discuss improvement actions, which was included in a report shared with the local authority.

Of course, feeding back the results from the citizen evaluators is particularly important. In the case of Lamezia Terme, the citizen evaluators and local representatives of Cittadinanzattiva got together to launch a new website,
which serves both as a workspace for those involved in the monitoring project and an open space for promoting the initiative at local and regional level and networking with other active organisations. The local branch of Cittadinanzattiva Siracusa in Sicily has set up a profile on Facebook to keep in touch with all citizens involved in the monitoring and also all other interested stakeholders. The local authorities marketed the initiative in different ways, both using their own internet portals (e.g. Reggio Calabria, Lamezia Terme, Lecce) and giving public presentations (e.g. Putignano, Lecce, San Severo).


In order to co-assess the pilot with all the involved stakeholders and to develop the initiative further, the Department of Public Administration organised a project evaluation event on 5 July 2010 which was also attended by Governance International.

About this case study
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Laura Massoli
Department for

Public Administration



Laura Massoli provided Governance International with this case study on 30 July 2010. It was updated on 17 February 2012.

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