Community indicators: development, monitoring and reporting
The New Zealand Government is striving to improve the way it measures progress and plans for change in an integrated ‘whole of government’ manner. The Local Government Act 2002 serves to strengthen participatory democracy and community governance. Under the Act, local authorities are charged with monitoring, and, not less than once every three years, reporting on the progress made by the community in achieving its outcomes for the district or region. These outcomes belong to the community and encompass what the community considers important to progress towards. Indicators that measure economic, social, environmental, cultural and democratic progress at local level are a primary tool that local authorities use to measure the progress towards their desired outcomes. To successfully track progress, it is important that indicators are technically sound and reflect the values of the entire community. The monitoring of indicators is expected to be ongoing and participatory. The New Zealand Government has leant heavily towards a decentralised locally driven approach to community indicators. The purpose of this study was to explore the manner in which different local authorities have undertaken community indicator: development, monitoring and reporting. This was undertaken through a two pronged approach: 1). A scoping exercise assessing the contents of eighteen local authority LTCCPs, 2). In-depth case studies of community indicator programmes of five of the eighteen local authorities. It was found that the approaches used to develop, monitor and report community indicators ranged abruptly across local authorities. Some councils appear to have relatively robust and meaningful indicator processes in place, which are both technically sound and have gained representative community input. In contrast, other councils hold a compliance mentality towards community indicators and have done the bare minimum when designing their indicator frameworks. These frameworks have tended to be council dominated with few opportunities for community involvement. In addition to this, local authorities poorly communicated indicators through their LTCCPs. The inadequate information detailing indicators processes is unlikely to both educate and promote community buy-in. Councils must place greater emphasis on the engagement of the entire community including other governmental departments, to ensure that indicators are relevant and meaningful for all. Consistency across local authority indicator frameworks will also help to ensure that all local authorities are working in an integrated manner towards the common goal of improving community well-being. Initiatives such as the Linked indicators Project and the Quality of Life Project are possible methods of ensuring consistent indicator frameworks. Finally, councils must provide greater information about community indicators within their LTCCPs.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordscommunity wellbeing; community outcomes; community governance; community participation; New Zealand; sustainable development; Local Government Act 2002; local authorities; planning; environment; indicators
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