COMMUNITY INDICATOR PROGRAMS: THEIR CONSTRUCTION, LOGIC AND CONSISTENCY BASED ON A PROGRAM EVALUATION OF THE SANTA MONICA CIP, CALIFORNIA
JOHN M. BLAIR
Some 200â300 local government agencies (LGAs) in the United States (US) use suites of indicators to monitor economic and environmental trends and social well-being, often against goals. Many reservations have been expressed about these community indicator programs (CIPs) including their internal logic such as the validity of indicators in relation to goals, the measurability and plausibility of goals and data reliability.To test these criticisms, a formal evaluation of a CIP has been done using the well-respected Santa Monica, California, CIP as the case study. The research tests the plausibility of a CIP as well as its effectiveness. It is done using program evaluation techniques, in particular, the tool of evaluability assessment. Using Likert rating techniques against several criteria, the author finds that plausibility of the CIP is reasonably robust and that it is a particularly effective tool of governance. More important, the research yields an evaluative methodology for assessing all goal-based CIPs. It is a framework that can help strengthen existing CIPs and it is transferable to appraising similar documents. Lastly, the research offers several lessons of value to urban planners and managers including discussion of targets, regionalism and the nature of "success" in urban management.
Program evaluation, evaluability assessment, community indicator programs, performance evaluation, monitoring cities and towns
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