April 27, 2015
  Governance Information Bulletin 2015:2 Subscribe | Unsubscribe



Thomas Carothers, Saskia Brechenmacher (Carnegie Endowment 2014)

After seeing its reach increase for decades, international support for democracy and human rights faces a serious challenge: more and more governments are erecting legal and logistical barriers to democracy and rights programs, publicly vilifying international aid groups and their local partners, and harassing such groups or expelling them altogether. Despite the significant implications of the pushback, the roots and full scope of the phenomenon remain poorly understood and responses to it are often weak. Key themes: Pushback is global; the trend is lasting; and the international response is inadequate.

Thomas Carothers, Oren Samet-Marram (Carnegie Endowment 2015)

Western democratic powers are no longer the dominant external shapers of political transitions around the world. A new global marketplace of political change now exists, in which varied arrays of states, including numerous nondemocracies and non-Western democracies, are influencing transitional trajectories. Western policymakers and aid practitioners have been slow to come to grips with the realities and implications of this new situation. New marketplace realities are that his is a transformed transitional era in which this is a widespread phenomenon and represents a new normal. The paper then posits how states operate in the marketplace as one in which: motivations are complex and often nonideological; the methods of influence are increasingly forceful; marketplace power is asymmetrical; and rules are scarce.


A unique visual tool to capture women’s participation in executive government and in parliament on a given date – 1st January 2015. The map of Women in Politics not only provides a country ranking for both ministerial and parliamentary representation, but also statistics on women in political leadership positions – Heads of State or government, women Speakers of Parliament, as well as ministerial portfolios held by women throughout the world.

(World Bank Groups Strategy FY16-21) Concept Paper

The World Bank Group is preparing a renewed gender strategy, which is expected to be finalized and discussed by the Board of Executive Directors later in 2015. The strategy is being developed to help the bank support countries and companies achieve gender equality as one pathway to ensuring lasting poverty reduction and shared prosperity. This Concept Note has been prepared and will serve as a basis for discussion during consultations with stakeholders from mid-April through mid-July. A dedicated consultation web page www.worldbank.org/genderconsultation provides a platform for stakeholders to provide input and contribute to the strategy development. Through this platform all interested individuals and parties can provide written comments on-line via a survey form.

Governance, Transparency and Accountability

Bertram I .Spector, Svetlana Winbourne, and Phyllis Dininio for MSI (January 2015)

This Guide offers practical programming and implementation advice for USAID field missions to support their development of effective anticorruption programs. The advice is based on lessons learned from past anticorruption programming by USAID, other donors and host governments. Guidance is also provided on the use of political economy analysis tools that can assist practitioners in identifying corruption dynamics, challenges and opportunities for programming, as well as highlighting initiatives appropriate for different sectors. Approaches to developing effective and targeted monitoring and evaluation systems for such programs are also presented in this Guide. All of this is wrapped in the logic of the USAID program cycle.

Anwar Shah (Proceedings of Rijeka Faculty of Economics, Journal of Economics and Business 2014)

This paper focuses on the role of local governments in bringing about fair, accountable, incorruptible and responsive (FAIR) governance. Local governments around the world have done important innovations to earn the trust of their residents and their comparative performance is of great interest yet a comprehensive framework to provide such benchmarking is not available. This paper attempts to fill this void, by developing a general framework for performance accountability of local governments and by relating real world practices to aspects of this framework. The proposed rating framework requires several types of assessments: (a) their compliance with due process and law; (b) monitoring of fiscal health for sustainability; (c) monitoring of service delivery; and (d) citizens’ satisfaction with local services. The approach yields key indicators useful for benchmarking performance that can be used in self-evaluation and improvement of performance. From an analysis of practices in local government performance monitoring and evaluation, the paper concludes that ad hoc ad-on self standing monitoring and evaluation systems are more costly and less useful than built-in tools and mechanisms for government transparency, self-evaluation and citizen based accountability such as local government output budgeting and output based fiscal transfers to finance local services.


Executive: Public Administration – Regulatory Agencies

Nunzio Casalino and Peter Bednar (GovernOpen Review of Management, Banking and Finance 2015)

Recent debate and associated initiatives dealing with public sector innovation have mainly aimed at improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the delivery of public services and improved transparency and user friendliness. Beyond typical administrative reforms, innovation is expected to help address societal challenges such as the aging population, inclusion, health care, education, public safety, environment and greenhouse gas emissions reduction. The public sector consists of a complex open system of organizations with various tasks. Therefore, decision-making can be slower than in the private sector because of large chains of command. Innovations here will often have an impact across this complex organizational structure, and thus must be supported by a robust strategy. To strengthen democracy, promote government efficiency and effectiveness, discourage wastes and misuses of government resources, public administrations have to promote a new stronger level of openness in government. The purpose of this manuscript is to describe an innovative approach for the governance of public systems and services, currently applied in the Italian public administration domain, which could be easily replicated in other countries as well. Two initiatives, to collect and provide relevant public information gathered from different and heterogeneous public organizations, to improve government processes and increase quality of services for citizens and companies, are described. The cases adopted have been validated through a case analysis approach involving the Italian Agency for the public administration digitalization to understand new e-government scenarios within the context of governmental reforms heavily influenced by the principles of Open Government Model.


(IPU 2014)

Based on more than four decades of experience on parliamentary development, the Common Principles for Support to Parliament offer clear guidelines for those receiving or providing support to parliaments. They aim to improve the quality of the support available to parliaments and to encourage the parliamentary community to work together more effectively when planning designing and providing support.

(COWI 2015)

This report provides an overview of parliamentary capacity building in EU Candidate Countries and potential candidates over the last three to four years. Considering the variety of initiatives and projects, and the different institutional context in each of the countries, the report has been structured around three main chapters: (1) profile of the national parliaments in terms of European integration and regional cooperation; (2) overview of single-beneficiary parliamentary capacity building projects (i.e. where one parliament receives assistance); (3) overview of regional parliamentary capacity (i.e. projects through which the parliaments of the region jointly benefit from a common program).

(NDI 2015)

The following paper summarizes recommendations gathered during the regional workshop “Roles and Responsibilities of Legislative Services in Parliaments” organized by the National Council of the Slovak Republic (NCSR) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) in Casta –Papiernicka, Slovakia from November 5-7, 2014. The event brought together members of parliament (MPs) including legislative and constitutional committee chairs, deputy-chairs and members, committee staff and parliamentary legal experts from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. The participants drew on each other’s experiences--as well as those presented by colleagues from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland--regarding how parliamentary legislative services operate and provide assistance.


Facha Mourtada and Fadi Salem - Arab Social Media Report series, 6th edition, June 2014

The Arab World is burdened by varying degrees of these challenges on regional and country levels. Most importantly, the public sector in a majority of Arab countries continues to suffer from mounting deficiencies in terms of quality, efficiency and accessibility of government services. With regards to service delivery, the unintended side-effects of the ‘new public management’ era and the documented limitations in the ‘electronic government’ era provide invaluable lessons for policy makers in the ongoing ‘open government’ and ‘social media’ era.

With around 82 million Arab users today at 22 percent penetration rates regionally, social media is already providing the medium for overcoming many of the monumental barriers for re-inventing public service in the Arab world. As was the case in the early days of e-government development, adapting to these disruptive technological changes will eventually reach equilibrium where a regional and local ‘right fit’ will be achieved. While we are still in a beginning of an era where technology is empowering citizens and allowing for real collaboration models with government entities, the Arab region is witnessing increased examples where the ‘business case’ for using social media for co-design, co-production and co-delivery of public services is taking place. The UAE government, for example, has initiated a first-of-its-kind social media brainstorming campaign with society to try to solve public service problems related to health and education, and engage with the public to come up with innovative ideas to re-design and co-deliver many of these services. This was coupled with several local and regional awards initiated by the government to reward innovation in public service delivery through smart devices and social media to “harness the positive potential of social media for the good of the Arab world.”

Local Governance: Devolution/Decentralization

(GPA 2015)

Debates over devolution and decentralisation are a charged political issue in countries around the world, at home and abroad, in both established democracies and states undergoing transitions. Drawing on his experience as the former Chair of the Commission on Devolution in Wales, GPG Associate Sir Paul Silk shares key lessons from the gradual process of devolution that took place over the last two decades in Wales.Sir Paul Silk, who was recently knighted for services to the Parliaments of the United Kingdom and to devolution, outlines the process, challenges and successes witnessed in Wales and the key elements of devolution. In his paper, he highlights how devolution should ultimately improve the quality of governance, and its value comes from this. Its essential feature is to bring Governments closer to people and in doing so, it improves oversight.

Elections and Political Parties

(DI/IFES 2015)

Elections in developing and post-conflict environments can offer countries a path to democracy and their citizens the prospect of a better life. The peaceful and credible resolution of electoral disputes is of special importance in these contexts, where legal frameworks for elections are sometimes ambiguous, the rule of law may be weak, and allegations of fraud are commonplace and frequently legitimate. Ad hoc audit processes, conducted absent a clear regulatory framework, can weaken the credibility of election outcomes and undermine the ability of new democracies to provide effective governance and to hold elected officials accountable to their citizens.

The paper addresses international standards for election audits, including: Ownership of the audit process; Predetermination and uniform application of procedures; Training processes; Evidentiary requirements; The right of appeal; Operational considerations for election managers; and The role of candidate agents and observers.

Civil Society Organizations: Service Delivery

(ODI 2015)

Despite significant progress in a range of public services over the past two decades, in many developing countries the average citizen continues to suffer from gaps in provision and poor performance of even the most basic services. How best to address these problems, and improve the performance of services, is one the major challenges facing citizens and governments across the developing world. Crucially, performance in service delivery depends not only on resources and the capacity of service providers but also on their relationships with users (i.e. citizens) and different levels of government – what demands providers face and how they are monitored and supported. There is rising interest in the potential of social accountability to shape these relationships and improve the delivery of public services. The idea that services are distinct seems obvious, but often the implications for accountability are not clearly understood. This briefing note aims to provide some practical guidance on how different services can offer differing opportunities and challenges for improving service performance through increased accountability and, especially, citizen engagement.


Alasdair S. Roberts

Institutions change slowly. This simple proposition is widely accepted among academics who specialize in the study of public institutions. Indeed, it is an essential organizing principle within the area of study that is known as the new institutionalism. But this proposition is also a myth. This is not the same as asserting that it is clearly untrue. The proposition can be regarded as a myth because is broadly endorsed as an organizing principle within the field, whose accuracy is taken for granted. Indeed, it is not clear that it is possible to empirically establish the truth of the proposition. The unquestioning acceptance of this proposition has unfortunate consequences. It encourages pessimism about the capacity of democratic systems to respond competently to new problems.

(ODI 2014)

Most development agencies, analysts and practitioners recognize that institutions shape the course of development and that, in turn, institutional change involves power and politics. An important corollary is that practical development organizations need to be capable of acting with intelligence in the political environment of partner countries, so they help promote, or at least do not stand in the way of, progressive developmental reform. Yet this poses significant challenges for organizations and professionals that were formed to deliver technical inputs and financial resources to development processes on the assumption that others will take care of the politics.

Various communities of practice have been established recently to advance the general idea of thinking and working politically in development agencies. One of the obstacles they face is a lack of well documented examples of the gains from working in more politically informed ways with aid. Another is an apparent shortage of operational models that provide a coherent, evidence-based alternative to standard donor practices. This paper addresses this particular gap by describing the practice of what has been called development entrepreneurship and explaining some of the ideas from outside the field of development that have inspired it.

Measurement & Evaluation

Carlisle Levine and Laia Grino (Interaction 2015)

As international assistance shifts to emphasize the importance of local ownership in ensuring relevance, effectiveness and sustainability, the ways that practice is evaluated must also shift. To date, conversations about local ownership have primarily focused on policies or program design and implementation. This briefing paper provides practitioners – particularly international NGOs and donors – with a rationale and framework for promoting local ownership in evaluation. A forthcoming guidance document will offer practical steps for advancing it, drawing on the examples of donors and international NGOs that have embraced it in their practices. Together, these documents are meant to provide practitioners and evaluators with the tools they need to extend local ownership to evaluation.

Laura Rodríguez Takeuchi and Sébastien Hine with Cirenia Chávez (ODI 2015)

The call for a ‘data revolution’ has spurred debate around the inclusion of new data and indicators to measure progress towards development goals. Indicators of perceptions – based on asking people what matters to them most and their opinions of change – could help to stimulate public debate and hold policy-makers accountable.

  • Key strengths of perceptions data are their timeliness and frequency – such attributes could make them very useful as warning signals for policy intervention.
  • We illustrate the potential of perception indicators in three post-2015 areas: social norms related to gender, violence and security, and governance. Perceptions and so-called ‘objective’ data can measure complementary aspects of these areas. Analysing gaps between perceptions and objective indicators can improve understanding of how people are dissatisfied, or when there are implementation gaps in the policies intended to tackle these areas.
  • Main limitations of this data are the challenge of ensuring the reliability of the information obtained, and difficulties in making meaningful comparisons across groups of people. We suggest that perceptions data would be more useful to monitor changing situations over time within countries, rather than to establish comparisons across them.
Ezequiel Molina (IDB Working Paper No. IDB-WP-513 2015)

This article makes three contributions to the literature. First, it provides new evidence of the impact of community monitoring interventions using a unique dataset from the Citizen Visible Audit (CVA) program in Colombia. In particular, this article studies the effect of social audits on citizens' assessment of service delivery performance. The second contribution is the introduction a theoretical framework to understand the pathway of change, the necessary building blocks that are needed for social audits to be effective. Using this framework, the third contribution of this article is answering the following questions: i) under what conditions do citizens decide to monitor government activity and ii) under what conditions do governments facilitate citizen engagement and become more accountable.

Asian Development Bank Economics Working Paper Series No. 417 (2015)

The central question addressed by this study is whether countries with above-average governance grew faster than countries with below-average governance. Using the World Bank’s worldwide governance indicators to measure governance performance, it examines whether a country with governance “surplus” in a given base year (1998) grew faster on average in a subsequent period (1998-2011) than a country with governance “deficit.” Governance is defined in several dimensions, including government effectiveness, political stability, control of corruption and regulatory quality, voice and accountability, and rule of law. The study finds that government effectiveness, political stability, control of corruption and regulatory quality all have a more significant positive impact on country growth performance than voice and accountability and rule of law. Developing Asian countries with a surplus in government effectiveness, regulatory quality and corruption control are observed to grow faster than those with a deficit in these indicators up to 2 percentage points annually, while Middle East and North African countries with a surplus in political stability, government effectiveness, and corruption control are observed to grow faster than those with a deficit in these indicators by as much as 2.5 percentage points annually. Good governance is associated with both a higher level of per capita GDP as well as higher rates of GDP growth over time. This suggests that good governance, while important in and of itself, can also help in improving a country’s economic prospects.

Message from the Editor

SUNY/CID welcomes new and continuing readers to its Governance Information Bulletin (GIB) 15:2 which highlights recent articles of interest for development practitioners and scholars in the area of democracy and governance. Areas of attention include: (1) development and international foreign aid, including strategies of democracy and governance assistance; (2) development and political institutions including legislative development; local governance and devolution; and public sector performance improvement and (3) program design, measurement and evaluation

In addition, all previous issues can be found at the SUNY/CID website here.

We welcome all questions, comments and suggestions at cidgib@albany.edu.

In This Issue

* Closing Space: Democracy and Human Rights Support Under Fire

* The New Global Marketplace of Political Change

* IPU/UN WOMEN - Women in Politics 2015 Map

* World Bank Group: Promoting Gender Equality to Reduce Poverty and Boost Shared Prosperity

* Practitioner's guide for anticorruption programming

* Responsibility with Accountability: A FAIR Governance Framework for Performance Accountability of Local Governments

* Managerial Governance and Transparency in Public Sector to Improve Services for Citizens and Companies

* Common Principles for Support to Parliaments

* Overview of Parliamentary Capacity Building in EU Candidate Countries and Potential Candidates

* Roles and Responsibilities of Legislative Services in Parliaments

* Citizen Engagement and Public Services in the Arab World: The Potential of Social Media

* Devolution and Decentralisation: Lessons From The United Kingdom and Wales

* Election Audits: International Principles that Protect Election Integrity

* Service characteristics and engagement with citizens

* The Myth of Institutional Rigidity

* Development entrepreneurship: how donors and leaders can foster institutional change

* Local Ownership in Evaluation: Moving from Participant Inclusion to Ownership in Evaluation Decision Making

* Asking people what they think: Using perceptions data to monitor the post-2015 agenda

* Can Bottom-Up Institutional Reform Improve Service Delivery?

* Do Governance Indicators Explain Development Performance? A Cross-Country Analysis

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