Keywords: governance, evaluation, Local Agenda 21, sustainable development, policy, local government, sustainable information society, sustainability, online self-assessment, information flow, information quality, public policy, online self-evaluation, local authorities, scientific community, policy community
Evaluating governance for local sustainability: online tools for self-assessment
The shift from 'top-down' government to 'bottom-up' governance represents a gradual but profound change in the ways that local governments are expected to behave in relation to its citizens. This shift has an impact on the quality and flow of information from government to citizens, and it also implies the need for this flow of information to be a two-way process. This article considers how the proposed shift implies the need for evaluation processes within a relatively new cross-cutting policy area – sustainable development. Firstly, this article defines the political reasons for changes in the approaches toward local policy evaluation. Secondly, it discusses the evaluation principles that are useful in analysing public policy processes at local government level (such as Local Agenda 21) and describes a specific pan-European online self-evaluation tool for local authorities. Finally, it discusses the potential benefits and obstacles of such a tool for two different groups of end-users – local governments and their communities, and the scientific and policy communities.