I DEVELOPMENT AND INTERNATIONAL FOREIGN AID
Richard Youngs, Oliver Stuenkel, Gilbert Khadiagala, Niranjan Sahoo, Senem Aydin-Düzgit (Carnegie Endowment for Peace, April 21, 2016)
It is commonly asserted that Western liberal democracy is losing credibility and that the international community must be more open to tolerating, and even encouraging, non-Western political models in developing and rising powers. The desire of people outside the West to contribute new ideas to democratic regeneration and to feel stronger local ownership over democracy is healthy. More needs to be done to nurture a wider variation of democratic processes and practices. This variety will be necessary to shore up democracy’s long-term credibility. Forms of democracy that differ from prevailing Western norms should be encouraged rather than simply dismissed as a cloak for illiberalism or authoritarianism (though recognizing that sometimes they are).
Stephan M. Haggard and
Robert Kaufman (SSRN 2016)
The initial optimism that greeted the onset of the “Third Wave” of democratization has cooled with the instability of many new democracies and the proliferation of stable competitive authoritarian regimes. These disappointments have produced a return to structural theories emphasizing the constraints posed by underdevelopment, resource endowments, inequality, and ethno-religious cleavages. We argue, however, for a sharper focus on the political mechanisms that link such factors to the emergence of democracy, including the extent of institutionalization in new democracies and the still understudied role of civil society and the capacity for collective action. The international dimensions of democratization also require closer analysis. We also underline a methodological point: The quest for an overarching theory of democracy and democratization may be misguided. Generalizations supported by cross-national statistical work yield numerous anomalies and indicate the need for approaches that emphasize combinations of causal factors, alternative pathways, and equifinality.
Nabaz Nawzad Abdullah and Mohd Fitri Abdul Rahman (SSRN 2016)
This paper intends to highlight the intensity of the use of deliberative democracy in the policy making process. It assists policy makers to understand the significance of deliberative democracy and the preliminary conditions to conduct effective and successful deliberation for the purpose of producing best quality decisions. This paper stressed the relationship between deliberation and citizen's satisfaction of government decisions. It indicated that deliberative democracy helps citizens to directly influence on the quality of the decision and better represent their preferences by proposing their agenda and views on policy alternatives and issues. Deliberative democracy is a technique that stabilizes citizens' interests by diminishing domination, despotism, and better assessing public choices. This paper found that deliberation legitimizes government decisions and maximizes the outcome of the policies. This article defined several advantages of deliberative democracy in the public policy making process which pursues equality, mutual interest; reason based discussion, public goods, the decision focused and agreement on disputed preferences. It also concluded that deliberative democracy facilitates free and fair participation and creating opportunity for discussion and information sharing between participants prior to the implementation process of government policies.
Rachel Kleinfeld, Rushda Majeed (CEIP, 2016)
Poor and weak countries plagued by violence seem to face a chicken-and-egg problem: a lack of resources appears to constrain their ability to fight violence, while violence itself exacerbates poverty. Yet under Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Bihar, one of India’s poorest states, was able to significantly reduce an insurgency that has plagued the region for over forty years. Bihar shows how particular political conditions cause states to be poor, weak, and violent—and how careful application of political tactics can reduce violence even in places with few resources and low state capacity.
Rachel Lemay Ort and Verena Maria Fritz. (World Bank, 2016)
Limited state capacity to carry out core government and service delivery functions poses a major constraint in post conflict countries, especially those with low income levels. With regard to scope, the research carried out for this note primarily focuses on developing a detailed understanding of how civil service institutes are established and function, and to reflect on available information about their impact. This note synthesizes the findings from case studies covering three countries and four public service training institutes: Rwanda (Rwanda Management Institute (RMI)); Uganda (Civil Service College Uganda (CSCU)); and Liberia (Liberia Institute of Public Administration (LIPA) and the Financial Management Training Program (FMTP)). The general policy rationale for establishing institutes of public service has been to improve national public sector capacity; while a key choice involves investing in longer and more in-depth or shorter-term training. To deliver training, a mix of some permanent staff with consultants recruited from the public sectors has worked well.
Jason Collodi, Jeremy Lind, Becky Mitchell, and Brigitte Rohwerder (IDS 2016)
The new Sustainable Development Goal to reduce armed violence is a welcome commitment but the prescriptive nature of its approach is problematic – there is ‘no one size fits all’. Rather, focus needs to be on how violence operates in particular settings. Evidence from IDS’ Addressing and Mitigating Violence program highlights the need to pursue bespoke approaches to tackling violence. We must recognize how different types of violence interlink and reinforce each other; how transnational and local-level actors involved with violence connect and operate; and how democratic spaces, and agency, need support and consideration for the pursuit of peaceful outcomes.
Tam O'Neil (ODI, 2016)
This paper argues that the gender and adaptive development communities have something to offer each other and that collaboration can be mutually strategic. These communities begin with a shared understanding of development as being as much about power and politics as economics, and have a shared experience of trying to break down an organizational ghetto. The paper looks at four principles of adaptive development and their application to feminist action: (i) support change led by local stakeholders, not external funders; (ii) start with problems or issues, not with ready-made solutions; (iii) be politically informed and use smart tactics; and (iv) build learning and adaptation into organizations and programs. After outlining the principles, each section reflects on why aid-funded women’s organizations and gender-related programs may not work in this way and provides examples of some that do. The paper concludes with outlining areas in which the gender and adaptive development communities could further learn from each other.
Deepta Chopra & Cathérine Müller (IDS 2016)
Even though the importance of women’s empowerment is widely accepted, it remains a complex concept that defies precise definitions and easy measurements. Together, the articles in this special Archive Collection demonstrate the depth and breadth of a nuanced analysis of empowerment that has come out of academic scholars writing at the cutting edge of this field. The editors reflect on the interconnectedness of the economic, social and political components of empowerment. In doing so they highlight the significant gaps in policy and programming aimed at furthering processes and outcomes for women’s empowerment. Casting an eye to the future, they draw our attention to two relevant debates that merit further unpacking – that of inequality, and the question of how the Sustainable Development Goals can contribute to furthering processes of women’s empowerment and gender equality.
Governance, Transparency, and Accountability
Izak Atiyas (Economic Research Forum, 2016)
A reform-minded government that adopts institutional reform to increase policy credibility and enhance the degree of competition may be rewarded with increased economic performance. The experience of Turkey in the 2000s suggests that anti-corruption and economic reform programs that promote more rule-based policy making and reduce the discretionary powers of the government may make significant positive contributions to economic growth.
Pilar Domingo (ODI 2016)
Rule of law remains a constant theme in development policy and practice, and in recent policy discourse and international commitments it has gained a new level of prominence. Despite this recognition, the history of international support to the sector's reform is peppered with a sad trail of failures and underachievement. While these failures have been widely documented, the international development community is more committed than ever to advancing an agenda on rule of law support. This is evidenced in the UN Declaration 2012 at the High Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law and the inclusion of justice for all in the Sustainable Development Goals. How to square the recognition that rule of law really matters with the poor track record of reforming it? Drawing on different analytical and empirical bodes of work on the international rule of law, this report seeks to find some better answers to this question. In doing so, it reviews key trends over time and makes the case for drawing on two current propositions for changing policy and practice, namely: 1. The link between rule of law and political settlements and, 2. being politically smart and adaptive in approaching rule of law reform.
National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) are central to strong national systems for protection and promotion of human rights. These institutions, operating in a variety of contexts, can be instrumental in supporting democratic governance, preventing human rights violations and the escalation of conflicts, strengthening the rule of law and advancing the rights of the most marginalized and vulnerable groups. To play these demanding roles effectively, NHRIs require solid capacities to safeguard their independence and resilience to possible changes in governance infrastructures or political changes. Eight Global Principles for capacity assessments of NHRIs have been identified on the basis of considerable experience and good practices developed over the years. These principles encompass compliance with human rights norms and standards, highlighting the values that underpin effective practices. The Global Principles and the wealth of analysis contained in this volume guide and strengthen capacity assessments and development of NHRIs across the world.
Amina Aitsi-Selmi, Kevin Blanchard, and Virginia Murray (SSRN, 2016)
The recently adopted United Nations’ Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030 has a much greater emphasis on science compared with other global policy frameworks. It builds on the idea that science and evidence are essential for effective policy-making to improve lives, livelihoods and health. It was the first UN landmark agreement of the year 2015, the other two being the Sustainable Development Goals (agreed September 2015) and the Climate Change Agreements (agreed December 2015). This article explores key synergies across these agreements that are articulated in the Sendai Framework to support joint policy-making. The article outlines the opportunities and challenges for scientific research and its translation into policy and practice; proposes scientific activities for developing Disaster Risk Reduction science, and makes suggestions for how to take these forward into the 2015–2030 period. This article is published as part of a thematic collection dedicated to scientific advice to governments.
Emma Lovell, Aditya Bahadur, Thomas Tanner and Hani Morsi (ODI 2016)
This report uses infographics to identify the key themes and emerging trends in resilience thinking and practice. The report includes sections on:
The rise in the use of the term 'resilience' in books, scholarly journals and scientific research across a range of disciplines;
The salience of different themes within resilience thinking;
Identification of geographies of resilience: by pinpointing the countries of author affiliation, and the regions studied in resilience literature;
Examination of resilience on Twitter: looking at key themes and trends most frequently used in relation to ‘resilience’;
Analysis of the characteristics of resilience: looking at the way in which academic and grey literature explore awareness, diversity, self-regulation, integration and adaptiveness;
Inclusion of resilience in the post-2015 agenda, including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (SFDRR), the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the UNFCCC COP21 Paris Agreement on climate change.
Executive: Public Administration – Regulatory Agencies
Ittai Bar-Siman-Tov, 3(3) The Theory and Practice of Legislation, (SSRN Dec. 2016)
In recent years, there has been growing and widespread discontent with the state of the legislative process in many legislatures. At the same time, there is an emerging trend of courts exercising judicial review of the legislative process. Against this backdrop, this article explores the question of what can be the role of courts in efforts to improve the legislative process. The article offers a fresh perspective on the problems in the legislative process and their causes. It then develops a novel argument – that does not rest upon a cynical view of legislatures, nor on a rosy picture of courts – to support the view that judicial review of the legislative process can contribute to improving the legislative process.
Stephen Page and Michael Kernaspa (SSRN April 2016)
Collaborative governance seeks to achieve results that are difficult to achieve using more traditional public policy tools or political processes. It has the potential to address policy problems that transcend the authority or capability of individual agencies or legislative bodies, or to resolve conflicts among stake holders divided by organizational boundaries, distrust, or competing frames of reference. Successful collaborations redress both types of challenges by producing innovative policy solutions and political agreements on those solutions. This paper reviews the literatures on collaboration, multi-party conflict resolution, and advocacy coalitions to identify factors that enable collaborative governance to generate either innovation or agreement – or both at the same time. The literature review pinpoints tensions between the characteristics of collaborative governance that produce policy innovation and those that produce political agreement. The paper goes on to identify key variables – including drivers, institutions, and processes – for studying how those tensions affect the production of different types of innovation and agreement by collaborative governance initiatives.
Wim J. M. Voermans,
Hans-Martien Ten Napel, and Reijer Passchier (SSRN 2016)
In this contribution, we will illustrate the modern-day dynamics of the interplay between the need for expedience and efficiency on the one hand, and the demand for openness, inclusiveness and transparency on the other by looking into one of government’s main decision-making processes: the legislative process. Particularly in the field of legislation, the balancing of both efficiency and transparency is of the essence for modern legislatures in parliamentary democracies: laws expressed by acts and legislative instruments can only be truly effective if they rest on broad societal support. As we will argue, a transparent and inclusive legislative process functions as a kind of democratic check on government action: it guarantees sufficient deliberative activity before a government may act. Throughout our contribution, a 2012 comparative study commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice, and carried out by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Leiden University will be used as a guiding rail to illustrate some the ways in which different jurisdictions in Europe have managed to combine, or at least balance, the need for legislative efficiency and transparency. We will use this study to demonstrate how traditional legislative processes nowadays grapple to translate the will of the citizens into effective legislation, how modern administrations still need democratically underpinned legislative procedures as the basis for the legitimation of (their) decisions, how efficient delivery of decisions and careful (lengthy) scrutiny interact. On the basis of this material we will further discuss concepts of, respectively, efficiency and transparency and especially the way modern legislatures examined in the study use information and communication technology (ICT) to overcome the sometimes opposing demands on their legislative processes. Insofar as possible we will try to highlight a few ‘best practices’ that show how legislative processes can (and cannot) adapt to new present day demands.
NDI (April, 2016)
This manual captures the lessons learned and best practices for constituency outreach, based on the experience of the 14 Moroccan members of parliament and their assistants who were trained by the National Democratic Institute.
Simplice A. Asongu & Jacinta Nwachukwu (SSRN 2016)
This study assesses the mobile phone in the diffusion of knowledge for better governance in sub-Saharan Africa for the period 2000-2012. For this purpose we employ Generalised Method of Moments with forward orthogonal deviations. The empirical evidence is based on three complementary knowledge diffusion variables (innovation, internet penetration and educational quality) and ten governance indicators that are bundled and unbundled. The following are the main findings. First, there is an unconditional positive effect of mobile phone penetration on good governance. Second, the net effects on political, economic and institutional governances that are associated with the interaction of the mobile phone with knowledge diffusion variables are positive for the most part. Third, countries with low levels of governance are catching-up their counterparts with higher levels of governance. The above findings are broadly consistent with theoretical underpinnings on the relevance of mobile phones in mitigating bad governance in Africa. The evidence of some insignificant net effects and decreasing marginal impacts may be an indication that the mobile phone could also be employed to decrease government quality. Overall, this study has established net positive effects for the most part. Five rationales could elicit the positive net effects on good governance from the interaction between mobile phones and knowledge diffusion, among others, the knowledge variables enhance: reach, access, adoption, cost-effectiveness and interaction. In a nut shell, the positive net effects are apparent because the knowledge diffusion variables complement mobile phones in reducing information asymmetry and monopoly that create conducive conditions for bad governance. The contribution of the findings to existing theories and justifications of the underlying positive net effects are discussed.
Anna Kochanova, Zahid Hasnain, and Bradley Robert Larson. (World Bank, 2016)
Using a cross-country data set on e-government systems, this paper analyzes whether e-filing of taxes and e-procurement adoption improves the capacity of governments to raise and spend resources through the lowering of tax compliance costs, improvement of public procurement competitiveness, and reduction of corruption. The paper finds that information and communications technology can help improve government capacity, but the impact of e-government varies by type of government activity and is stronger in more developed countries. Implementation of e-filing systems reduces tax compliance costs as measured by the number of tax payments, time required to prepare and pay taxes, likelihood and frequency of firms being visited by a tax official, perception of tax administration as an obstacle, and incidence of bribery. The effects of e-procurement are weaker, with the number of firms securing or attempting to secure a government contract increasing with e-procurement implementation only in countries with higher levels of development and better quality institutions. The paper finds no systematic relationship between e-procurement and bureaucratic corruption.
Nicholas Aroney (SSRN 2016)
Federalism comes in many forms. This paper, which is to be published in the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Comparative Constitutional Law, discusses the definitions and criteria that have been used to identify and classify the various types of federal system. The paper begins by placing the question into its historical context and by distinguishing, on that basis, the various religious and secular, social and political, and personal and territorial contexts in which the federal idea has been applied. The paper then addresses the particular classificatory criteria that have been used to distinguish particular types of federal system, including the distinctions between federation and confederation, aggregation and devolution, symmetry and asymmetry, uninational and multinational federalism, and coordinate and cooperative federal systems. The complex relationships between these classificatory distinctions is discussed and it is shown how a careful description of the effective constitutive power upon which a federal system is founded helps to explain the structure of constituted power within that system. It is argued that considered in this way, federal systems can be understood in terms of a continuum consisting of the most purely aggregative systems at one end and the most purely devolutionary at the other.
S. Khan Mohmand. (IDS 2016)
There is growing scholarly and policy awareness of the fact that public authority is rarely exercised only by the state. In fact, a host of actors and institutions – some visible and recognized, others invisible and less obvious – exercise authority over and regulate the everyday life of local populations across large parts of the world, with important implications for public policy. While we recognize more and more that such actors and institutions take on various governance-related functions within local communities, our understanding of the role that they play is fairly limited and, possibly because of this, our discomfort with them is often fairly high. This paper represents an effort to deal with this gap. It is led by a central puzzle – as the incidence of electoral democracy has increased across the world, we would expect to see an accompanying formalization of governance through the consolidation of public authority within institutions of the state. This has not happened. Instead, we find that the role and importance of informal local institutions that take on governance functions has increased and that they are a central component of ‘multicentric’ governance in large parts of the world. Why is this so and how do these informal institutions sustain and perpetuate the local public authority that they exercise across multiple domains? This paper provides a number of explanations for the persistence of such institutions in large parts of South Asia, Africa and the Western Balkans.
Elections and Political Parties
Stephen Gardbaum (SSRN 2016)
This article aims to show that whatever the formal arrangements on the separation or "fusion" of executive and legislative powers -- whether presidential, parliamentary or semi-presidential -- the way any constitution operates in terms of concentrating or dispersing power is significantly a function of both the political party and electoral systems in place. They can not only fuse what a constitution's executive-legislative relations provisions separate, but also separate what they fuse. As a result, the same set of institutional relations can operate quite differently in separation of powers terms depending on party and electoral system contexts. In so doing, the article broadens and deepens the insight that the original Madisonian framework of institutional competition between the President and Congress has been rewritten by the subsequent, unanticipated development of the modern political party system, so that concentration or dispersal of political power -- unified or divided government -- depends mostly on electoral outcomes. It broadens the insight by showing this is true of all forms of government and not only the U.S. presidential system. It deepens it by drilling down one layer further and taking into account how party systems and electoral outcomes are themselves affected by the method of voting employed.
Elections are central to establishing a legitimate democratic government. However, a democratic government’s degree of legitimacy depends on the extent to which elections are trusted and perceived to be free and fair. The way in which complaints and disputes about misconduct are handled is one of the important indicators of the credibility of elections. Therefore, free and fair elections necessitate the adoption of efficient and transparent electoral dispute-resolution (EDR) mechanisms that are explicitly defined in legislation. This report provides an overview of the global data on EDR systems contained within the International IDEA Electoral Justice Database and presents key findings from the study of EDR mechanisms. It also presents a brief discussion of these findings, highlighting important trends and practices from a global perspective.
Rosie Parkyn and Sonia Whitehead (R4D 2016)
This research report discusses BBC Media Action’s evolving approach to capacity strengthening within the media development sector. It shares findings from the recent evaluation of five different capacity-strengthening interventions in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Nepal and the Palestinian Territories. Central to the BBC capacity strengthening approach is an embedded mentoring model, where local mentors spend extended periods embedded within a media organisation to support the production of programme outputs and to ensure that skills and knowledge gained from this process become ingrained in individual and organisational practice. The report findings broadly support the effectiveness of this model across the four, inter-related levels at which we work: audience, practitioner, organisation and the wider media system. But a number of long term challenges remain – political, financial and institutional - which will need to be addressed in order to secure sustainable change. The report concludes with concrete recommendations for the media development sector as it seeks to improve the systematic evaluation of its capacity strengthening initiatives.
III. PROGRAM DESIGN AND EVALUTION
Joseph A. Raelin (SSRN 2016)
This article explores the mythology of leadership as residing in particular individuals. It argues that given the complex requirements of 21st Century management, we can no longer allow the rest of the organization, other than its managers, to sit idly awaiting orders from detached bosses. It looks at leadership, consequently, not as manifestly being about individual leaders, but about the collective interactive practices that accomplish the choices we make together in our mutual work. After deriving the grounds for our myopic charismatic approach to leadership, it calls for a transition to a leadership-as-practice, and names some of the vital activities associated with this approach. Undergirding them is the essential practice of dialogue in which through dedicated listening, new ideas can be generated never thought of prior to the dialogue. The article also illustrates the sustainable benefits of the practice approach and shows how leadership development needs to be altered to take advantage of learners’ active collective engagement within the work setting. Action learning with reflective dialogue is viewed as a superior alternative to classic competency training. By the end, readers might appreciate that leadership can be usefully shared among those doing the work.
Molla Mekonnen Alemu (JSD 2016)
Diverse teams have become common practice in today’s world. The current trend of globalization is making managers to work in a diverse multicultural team set up whereby the diversified team members will come up with a new set of skills, ideas, approaches, etc. to the team. It has however, its own challenges in harmonizing the contribution of the culturally diverse team members. Cross-cultural differences in a development work context also entail a range of issues varying from individuals cultural background, characteristics on work places, to their own values and ways of doing things which will have a its own influence on their working style, interactions and relationships at work places. Communication styles, language, a person's cultural background, and perceptions on conflict, styles and methods of doing the work as well as the style of decision making will have an impact how individuals will act and behave in work places. Therefore, the question will be how a manager can successfully lead and work in a culturally diverse team. This study was conducted in Sierra Leone which was aimed at identifying the major bottlenecks of multicultural team management and come up with workable tips for working within a multicultural setting development work.
Political Economy Analysis
Lisa Denney (ODI March 2016)
This guidance note provides a framework for implementers of conflict, security and justice programmes to conduct political economy analysis (PEA) at the design or inception phase to ensure a deep understanding of the context drives activities. While some adaptation of this guidance will inevitably be required in response to the particularities of different organisations, the intention is to provide a publically available resource to make PEA as relevant and useful as possible. The note first sets out four preconditions to ensure PEA is more likely to achieve impact, before setting out seven steps detailing how PEA might usefully be undertaken, primarily at the design stage, to develop programmes that are genuinely responsive to context. The guidance also demonstrates how on-going PEA is also connected with efforts to work in more adaptive ways.
Michael K. Musgrave, Sam Wong (Journal of Sustainable Development 9(3) 2016)
Elite capture in development projects is problematic across a wide range of cultures, governance contexts and geographical locations. The dominant development discourse suggests that elite capture can be addressed using principles of good governance and participatory democracy. We critique the notion that this is sufficient to challenge practices of elite domination that detrimentally affect the outcome of development projects. Using a Foucauldian notion of power we suggest that power relationships are more complex than current conceptualisations of elite capture allow. We offer some definitions and suggest a common conceptual framework to unify the concept of elite capture across cultures. This conceptual framework is used to analyse data from 2 case studies in south western Zambia. We conclude that the dominant discourse ignores complex power relationships and uses a simplistic notion of political legitimacy that may enhance elite capture rather than prevent it. The concept of political legitimacy needs to be expanded to include traditional institutions that are not elected, while still applying principles of participation and accountability to the design of institutions.
Measurement, Evaluation and Learning
Craig Valters (ODI September 2015)
The Theory of Change approach, with its focus on continuous critical reflection, demands a radical shift towards more and better learning in development thinking and practice. No new tool or approach can in itself address problems of institutional incentives in the sector that block such learning. However, a Theory of Change approach may be able to create a productive (albeit small) space for critical reflection. This paper outlines the growing and diverse ways in which Theory of Change approaches are understood. It outlines and justifies four key principles to guide the use of the Theory of Change approach, tied to a deeper analysis of the development sector. The paper highlights throughout examples of the organizational use of Theories of Change, each of which attempts to go some way towards addressing the criticisms of the approach to date. It also analyses possibilities for taking these principles forward in light of the ‘results agenda.’
Craig Valters, Clare Cummings and Hamish Nixon (ODI March 2016)
Adaptive programming suggests, at a minimum, that development actors react and respond to changes in the political and socio-economic operating environment. It emphasizes learning and the development practitioner is encouraged to adjust their actions to find workable solutions to problems that they may face. Being prepared to react to change may seem like common sense – and indeed it is. However much development thinking and practice remains stuck in a linear planning model which discourages learning and adaptation, in part because projects are seen as ‘closed, controllable and unchanging systems.’ This paper critically engages with this problem and makes clear why and how learning needs to be at the center of adaptive development programming. It begins by clarifying why and what kind of learning matters for adaptive programming. The paper then turns its focus to how strategies and approaches applied throughout a program’s conception, design, management and M&E can enable it to continually learn and adapt.
ODI Toolkits (ODI, 2016)
The Methods Lab develops and tests flexible approaches to impact evaluation for interventions that are harder to evaluate because of their complexity. This toolkit brings together analysis, guidance and templates for anyone: planning an impact evaluation; designing a monitoring and evaluation system; working in a consortium or managing a portfolio of projects
(World Bank, 2016)
The Local Governance Performance Index (LGPI) provides a new approach to the measurement, analysis and improvement of local governances. The LGPI is a tool that aims to help countries collect, assess, and benchmark detailed information around issues of local and public sector performance and service delivery to citizens and businesses. It is also a methodology, using heavily clustered surveys to uncover important local-level variation in governance and service provision. This information aids policymakers and development specialists in designing specific action plans, provides an initial benchmark from which to measure of progress, and empowers citizens’ and businesses’ voices to influence government efforts on improving quality and access of public service delivery. By assessing the performance of public administration at the local level, the LGPI provides critical feedback to help government officials, political parties, civil society actors, the public and the international development community pinpoint specific geographical areas and substantive areas where policy reform is needed. The LGPI is based on the premise that local governance matters, and that the drivers that explain local level variation may differ from those that operate at higher levels. The tool aims to uncover this, and thus differs from extant tools by providing information that is representative at the appropriate local level. Some communities and local leaders find ways to overcome resource deficits, assure transparency and accountability, and provide better services than other communities do. Moreover, decentralization efforts are aimed at extending local rights and responsibilities. Finally, the authors recognize that communities do not perform equally well in all areas of governance and services provision; for instance, they may provide adequate health services while their schools suffer, while the converse may be true elsewhere.