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Polco News & Knowledge

Damema Details: Top 5 Reasons Why City Councils Need The National Citizen Survey

- Damema Details –

Hello! Greetings from beautiful Boulder, Colorado. I am Damema Mann with National Research Center, Inc. (NRC), here to talk to you about five reasons why city councils and county commissioners should really want to do The National Citizen Survey TM (The NCS TM).

One thing we know here at NRC is that it’s often very easy to get staff interested in conducting a survey and they understand the value of surveys. They’ve often worked with them in many communities. Often we see local government employees travel from city to city, and they bring us with them because they know what useful tools the citizen surveys are. But sometimes it’s harder to get council buy-in for a survey.

Right now we are gearing up for the Colorado Municipal League Conference; we go every year. That had us thinking about city officials and the relationship between staff and electeds. We know the most successful communities are those where staff and electeds are on the same page and can work really well together in a collaborative environment. This is a great tool for that. Here are the top five reasons why your council should want to do The NCS.


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1. Voice of the People

The NCS brings in the voice of the people into decision making. It brings in the voice of the average resident. There are many residents who do have the time to go to a council meeting or directly contact their elected officials and let their voice be heard. But your average resident may be working full time and raising families. They’re busy. While they care about their communities and want their voice to be heard, they may not have the time to advocate for themselves. So conducting a scientific survey like The NCS gives every resident a chance to have their voice heard.

We also use scientific methods when analyzing to statistically weight the data. That way we really make sure you’re getting an accurate cross-section of the community as a whole.

2. Tracking Changes Over Time

The next reason council should want to conduct the NCS is that it is a great way to track changes over time. If you have implemented a capital improvement project or if you’ve changed a policy, this is a way to see a before-and-after effect. Has a rating increased as a result of what council has implemented? As a community grows and changes, there can be new challenges that are being faced as well. Perhaps you could see a rating go down over time, and maybe that’s also an indicator that you need to take some kind of different action or course correction.

The NCS is a great tool to monitor trends as well. Specific councilors or mayors could even see how ratings were before they started and then compare the data a couple of years into their term. It can be a great tool that way.

3. Evidence of Success and Areas for Improvement

Your council should want to conduct The NCS because the survey data is evidence of what is working and what needs help in your community. You can see areas that might be performing highly. Services that residents are really happy with can be seen in the evidence from the ratings.

Comparisons are made to our benchmarking database. If something is much higher than the benchmark or ranked one of the highest in our database, you can see where you’re really excelling.  Conversely, you can see if you have services or community aspects that are lower than the benchmark. That potentially can be an area to put more focus. The survey data gives you hard evidence of what is working and is not.

4. Strategic Planning and Goal Setting

The NCS is something your council should look to because the resident survey data is a great piece of the puzzle for informing strategic planning and goal setting. You may or may not have a formal strategic plan. You may be thinking of implementing your first one or updating it. The survey provides good information - a really important piece when planning. All councils have goals. All jurisdictions have budgets. This is great data to help with all of that.

5. Credibility of Independent Surveys

Specifically, why councils should have NRC conduct the survey for them is that there is a lot of credibility in an independent survey. We are a neutral third party. We are survey experts. We don’t have an agenda in a community. We truly just want to bring you the voice of what an average resident thinks and let that help inform your decision making. It’s always great if you can also have us come out and present results in person to your council.

Thanks again for listening. I’ll see you next time!

Learn more about The National Citizen Survey

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