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How to use this guide

These how-to pages bring together various methods and experiences in a step by step guide to governance assessments at the country level. It constitutes a live document and a continuously growing repository of knowledge on practices of governance assessments.
The guide can be used for a range of purposes. It can be used as a first point of reference for general information on assessing governance; it can be used to find information related to one of the components such as finding out how to collect governance data or how to build a governance database or it can be used as a reference source for finding more detailed information or resources on a governance measurement issue.
As a central resource for all actors interested in initiating country-led governance assessments, this guide may be useful to policy-makers, the national statistic agency, civil society organisations (CSOs), academia, the media, UNDP country offices as well as international development actors. It is designed for people with no statistical or mathematical training. The following pages provide practical examples and ideas on how to facilitate national ownership of governance assessments and governance monitoring.
The guide is divided into nine components, where users can read more about how to:

Main goals of the guide

The guide aims to facilitate governance assessment at the country-level. It main goals includes to:

  • Create a common ground of understanding among policy-makers, CSOs, the media and academia on practical issues related to assessing and measuring the quality of governance in a country
  • Present examples of ‘bottom up’ processes for developing a governance assessment framework.
  • Provide practical guidance on developing robust and sound governance indicators.
  • Provide an overview of the different methods and approaches for collecting governance data.
  • Present examples of developing national and sub-national governance databases.
  • Improve policy makers understanding and ability to use governance indicators in policy-making processes


Why conduct a country-led governance assessment?

A democratic governance assessment provides a critical accountability mechanism for government and for citizens to engage on governance issues and voice their opinions. Data produced by the assessment reflect and address citizens’ concerns.
Democratic governance assessments may also offer a superior evidence base for national decision making. Benchmarking progress provides a record of reference for planning, monitoring and evaluation.
UNDP believes that national ownership of assessments and of the monitoring process is critical for democratic development, through strengthening civic engagement and bridging the divide in many countries between producers of governance data and national policymakers.
Very few countries have instituted a system of data collection and storage that  brings together a range of measures to provide citizens with an overall picture that can help them decide whether the quality of governance is improving or deteriorating.Huge interest and need exist amongst developing and developed countries alike to develop national systems for monitoring the quality of governance in their countries.
Yet each country has varying levels of activity and sophistication for collecting governance data; these can range from information on corruption and on the performance of state institutions in delivering public goods and services to the enjoyment and protection of human rights and perceptions of citizens on the state of governance.
Although the number of global and regional databases on governance is growing, at country level the need is acute to develop national governance indicators and databases. These would enable citizens and organizations, state and non-state actors, and external development partners to have access to and use nationally generated data that reflect the country’s specific governance priorities and challenges.

What is a country-led governance assessment?

Country-led governance assessments differ from external assessments in that they are initiated, implemented and sustained by national actors. National stakeholders are invested in the assessment, believe in its legitimacy and hold it to be relevant. No single actor can be said to represent 'the country' which means that country-led assessments must have the active participation of state and non-state actors including Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and should progressively involve and have the support of an increasing and 'representative' number of national actors.
In country-led assessments, the processes involved in assessing democratic governance are equally important as the outcome of the governance assessment. If governance assessment results are not locally owned and embedded in ongoing national development processes they will likely be shelved and will not feed into policymaking processes. Therefore, a central feature of country-led processes for assessing and monitoring democratic governance is that local and national stakeholders actively participate in key steps of the assessment process including what is to be assessed, how to assess it and how the assessment is to be used. Local engagement in all stages of an assessment is critical for linking the assessment results and the corrective actions needed and for safeguarding the transparency and policy relevance of the assessment process.

Key steps in conducting a country-led governance assessment