Measuring Citizen Experiences: Conducting a Social Audit in Vietnam
In late 2009, following three decades of gradual economic and governance reform by Vietnam’s one-party government, three organizations came together to implement a social audit across the country. The Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI)—a joint policy project of the United Nations Development Programme, the Vietnamese nongovernmental organization the Center for Community Support and Development Studies, and the Communist Party–affiliated Vietnam Fatherland Front—aimed to draw information about citizen perspectives into decision making in Vietnam. It also sought to formulate quantitative measures of provincial performance and governance. Based on public surveys, PAPI aimed to provide a reliable picture of citizen experiences with provincial government along six dimensions: participation in government at local levels, transparency, vertical accountability, control of corruption, implementation of and adherence to public administrative procedures, and public service delivery. By 2011, PAPI was able to measure governance quality in all 63 provinces in Vietnam. The survey project represented the nation’s first large-scale effort to systematically gather information about citizens’ experiences with their local and provincial governments. It also led some provincial governments to create action plans that would improve the services citizens received and boost the rankings of those provincial governments in the index.