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Develop an assessment framework

People undertaking national self-assessments often choose to use one of several governance assessment frameworks that have been developed by international organizations, agencies or institutes as a starting point. The advantage of this is the appeal of governance indicators that are already recognized and viewed as legitimate in an international context.

However, such governance assessment frameworks are typically applied to different countries without adaptation to that country’s context and circumstances. In the pursuit of adhering to internationally recognized principles and securing cross-country comparability, national specifics often receive a low priority. The result can be disengaged stakeholders and assessment findings that are too generic to be useful for designing reforms.
 
Developing a nationally owned governance assessment framework requires attention to process as well as fundamentals. Reaching consensus and agreement on an assessment methodology requires broad-based stakeholder involvement. Undertaking a consultative process to agree on a methodology from the very beginning will have the added advantage of facilitating legitimacy of the assessment results in the end.
 
When selecting and/or developing a governance assessment framework, it is essential that the final framework is responsive to demand and interest amongst a broad audience so that assessment results are as politically relevant as possible.
 
The key challenges in developing a governance assessment framework are agreeing on the conceptual and normative underpinnings of governance and identifying the related attributes and indicators to measure those attributes.
 
If you choose to use a pre-designed framework of indicators, the key is to contextualize this framework to capture citizens' aspirations, critical policy issues, various institutional arrangements and, in particular, poverty and gender concerns. The framework needs to be sufficiently specific for developing concrete policy recommendations and guiding democratic governance reform.

Selecting an Asessment Framework

When planning a governance assessment, UNDP recommends developing a framework that responds to the particular measuring needs within countries. 

The toolbox is stocked with assessment frameworks that have been developed by different organizations. These frameworks may be good starting points for developing and adapting frameworks that are suitable to different country contexts. The toolbox allows easy comparison of existing tools by providing descriptions strengths and weaknesses.

Frameworks in this toolbox will therefore almost always need to be adapted. This is often best achieved by aligning the framework to national policy making processes and taking account of the voices of women, the poor and marginalised.

The process of developing and adapting a framework often benefits from stakeholder consultations. This may enhance legitimacy and prevent criticism that the assessment is biased towards specific interest groups.

Some samples of tools are displayed below: