NRC principals have been leading the strategic use of surveys for local governments since 1991, when they wrote the first edition of what became the classic text on citizen surveying: Citizen Surveys: how to do them, how to use them, what they mean, published by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).
NRC has moved
ahead rapidly since publication of our first book. We have maintained
our position as leaders in citizen surveying with the second edition of
the ICMA-published book, rewritten and published in 2000 and under
third revision for publication fall of 2008. We published the first
study on conducting citizen surveys using the Internet, “Citizen
Surveys on the Web: general population surveys of community opinion.”
in Social Science Computer Review (2002, SAGE publications)
and numerous other articles and chapters on citizen surveying and
performance measurement – in ICMA’s Public Management Magazine,
Planning Commissioners Journal, Governing, Journal of Policy Analysis
and Management, Management Sciences and Policy Analysis, Performance
Matters and Public Administration Review.
has conducted more customer satisfaction surveys for local governments
than any other firm in the United States. In a 2007 Web survey of a
sample of 460 city managers selected at random from all 50 states, NRC
was named as survey consultant by three times the number of respondents
of the closest competitor. Between 2004 and 2008, NRC has conducted
over 350 surveys in 41 states and 3 Asian countries and surveyed over
400,000 respondents to capture resident evaluations about local
government. Our clients provide virtually every service that local
NRC’s Benchmark Database
Providing the Largest and Most Flexible Database of Normative Comparisons for Benchmarking
In Citizen Surveys: how to do them, how to use them, what they mean, published by ICMA we not only articulated the principles for quality survey methods, we pioneered both the idea of benchmark data for citizen opinion and the method for gathering benchmark data. We called it, “In Search of Standards,” and argued for norms. “What has been missing from a local government’s analysis of its survey results is the context that school administrators can supply when they tell parents how an 80 percent score on the social studies test compares to test results from other school systems...” Since 1991 many survey research firms and scholars have followed our recommendations and some even have begun to create their own form of benchmarks.
NRC’s Benchmark Database contains more than 500 citizen surveys from across America. Using the framework of meta-analysis, we integrate the results of these surveys administered to over 300,000 residents controlling for differences in data collection mode and question characteristics such as anchor wording, numbers of response options, presence of “don’t know,” option symmetry and other characteristics that we have found correlate with resident responses. We have described our methods thoroughly in Public Administration Review, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management and in our first book on conducting and using citizen surveys. Scholars who specialize in the analysis of citizen surveys regularly have relied on our work.* The method described in those publications is refined regularly and statistically tested on a growing number of citizen surveys in our proprietary databases.
contains evaluations of over 250 services provided by local governments
and is intended to represent the opinions of more than 30,000,000
adults living in the United States. Because the database contains
results that are reliable for each jurisdiction (typically with no
fewer than 400 responses from each), we can parse the data for an NRC
client such that a cluster of jurisdictions similar in size, located in
the same part of the US or with a similar ethnic mix of residents can
be identified for comparison.
Jurisdictions included in normative comparisons
In addition to our fully customized citizen surveys, we have created a survey template that reflects the results of many years of collecting and reviewing questionnaires from across the U.S.. We have identified the most commonly evaluated services, the most fundamental aspects of quality of life and resident behaviors that most jurisdictions’ managers need to understand.
We have linked
our survey to ICMA
performance management so that periodic monitoring of
residents’ perspectives can become a regular part of measuring service
delivery. In 2001, our innovative semi-customizable general citizen
survey became The National
Citizen Survey™, for which ICMA serves as NRC’s marketing partner.
* (e.g., Kelly, J. & Swindell, D. (2002). “Service quality variation across urban space: First steps towards a model of citizen satisfaction,” Journal of Urban Affairs, 24, 271-288.; Van Ryzin, G., Muzzio, D., Immerwahr, S., Gulick, L. & Martinez, E. (2004). “Drivers and consequences of citizen satisfaction: An application of the American Customer Satisfaction Index Model to New York City,” Public Administration Review, 64, 331-341).