Building Citizen-Government Accountability Loops

MyVoice Government Accountability

The World Bank’s MyVoice project is a pilot program aimed at increasing the accountability and responsiveness of critical government programs in Nigeria. My team’s charge was two-fold: to create a system to enable and empower citizens to provide feedback on government programs and to transform this feedback into actionable information that program administrators could respond to.

On the citizen side, MyVoice leverages the burgeoning mobile phone adoption in Nigeria to build an SMS (text message) based feedback channel for programs in agriculture and health. On the government side, this feedback is accumulated across locations and service categories for easy trends analysis and direct response.

My Role

I helped drive the project from kick-off and served in many roles on this project but primarily focused on product management.

The project began with primary research into the mobile behaviors and capacities of Nigerians, both rural and urban. This was coupled with research seeking to understand government program administrators’ perspectives and capacities. From this we designed, prototyped, tested, and developed a pilot system that allowed citizens to send text messages with structured feedback on programs and have that feedback routed, triaged and followed up on by the appropriate administrators.

I participated in and led research missions in towns, villages and government offices in central Nigeria, helped synthesize findings and prepare reports and client workshop sessions to communicate these findings. From there, I led the service and experience design of both the citizen and government facing products and services, coordinating product feature trade-offs with citizens, clients, application developers and government program administrators. I organized pilot testing of the prototype system in the field, and analyzed the data received and made recommendations for changes to the program (here’s an example).

MyVoice Government Accountability

Impact

While the project is on-going, the positive effects are already manifest. The pilot test successfully showed that a virtuous loop of citizen feedback and government response can be primed and maintained, and uncovered several areas for improvement in the program’s functioning. On the organizational side, due in no small part to the team’s work, Reboot’s relationship with the World Bank’s Nigerian office has grown to the extent that it was necessary to open a country office in Nigeria.

MyVoice Government Accountability

Skills

user experience research, product idea generation, design research, institutional ethnography and market research, service design

Spring 2013