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Assessing local governance


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Inclusive process, rigourous methodology and policy uptake are the key issues raised in this power point presentation by Paul van Hoof, senior advisor on local governance with IDASA, at the Cairo workshop on assessing governance in sectors, June 2009.

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Assessing local governance

  1. 1. Assessing Local Governance Paul van Hoof Senior advisor local governance Idasa [email_address] Governance Assessment Methods and Applications of Governance Data in Policy-Making Cairo 1-4 June 2009
  2. 2. Objectives <ul><li>Introduction to the concept of local governance and its present dynamics in relation to decentralisation and democratisation trends </li></ul><ul><li>An introduction to the emerging multitude of Local Governance assessment tools, their relevance and applicability </li></ul><ul><li>Both objectives should help you in taking several critical decisions around the development of a country specific strategy regarding local governance assessment and capacity development. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Objectives <ul><li>In particular we will address: </li></ul><ul><li>How to ensure an inclusive process when conducting an Local Governance Assessment </li></ul><ul><li>How to guarantee a minimum level of rigorousness in the methodology selected </li></ul><ul><li>How to ensure policy uptake at various levels </li></ul>
  4. 4. Local Governance Index Accountability Equity Rule of Law Effectiveness Participation Legal framework Vision and plan Decision-making Financial Management Corruption incidence Satisfaction of service delivery Service delivery standards Oversight role Internal control Transparency Community Dialogue Participation Strategy Community involvement Citizens rights and duties Access to Power Access to income and services Leadership Legal framework HIVAIDS strategy Community safety strategy SA local model Core model External Accountability Data
  5. 5. <ul><li> </li></ul>Average LGB Scores for 16 municipalities in SA
  6. 6. Findings from Local Governance Barometer SA <ul><li>There is a w eak relationship between the Integrated Development Plan, the annual budget and the Performance Management System at Municipal level. </li></ul><ul><li>Councillors (and often administrators as well) are not well aware about their role and not properly equipped and trained to fulfil their role effectively. </li></ul><ul><li>Rule of law received the lowest overall score and is by Civil Society seen as a big problem at municipal level. </li></ul><ul><li>Information flow from Councils to its citizens regarding matters that directly affect them is in general very poor. </li></ul><ul><li>Participation of communities and citizens is limited to compulsory consultation moments and not used for genuine consultation: “we are informed about decisions already taken”. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Local Governance Barometer SA <ul><li>By comparing stakeholder scores, we were able to detect differences in perception about e.g. what ideal participation should look like. This created the starting point for dialogue between the stakeholders as well as capacity development identifying priorities and action plans with measurable benchmarks. </li></ul><ul><li>By comparing scores for different municipalities on the main criteria we were able to unearth underlying capacity gaps and establish peer relationships between municipalities. </li></ul><ul><li>Practical policy advice to the department of Provincial and Local Government regarding the improvement of public participation and engagement  Idasa is now involved in a policy revision process. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Conclusions Local Governance Barometer SA <ul><li>Most of the Councils face a widening service delivery gap. Partly explained by increased “consumeristic” behaviour of citizens. </li></ul><ul><li> Citizens are loosing their confidence in Local Government as an institution that is able to respond effectively to the challenges that they as citizens face </li></ul><ul><li> Councils feel strangulated by the amount of regulations and demands and are even less flexible and able to be responsive to citizens’ needs. </li></ul><ul><li> The sense that democracy does not work for the poor and unemployed is growing. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Reasons for decentralisation <ul><li>Development rationale . Improved service delivery by increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of public services </li></ul><ul><li>Democracy and good governance rationale. Decentralization has a potential to promote transparency and accountability in public administration and to promote democracy, from both the ‘supply’ and the ‘demand’ side. </li></ul><ul><li>Conflict management and peace building rationale. </li></ul><ul><li>I f people have better development opportunities and their voice is taken into account, they are less likely to resort to violence to resolve their grievances. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Types of decentralisation <ul><li>Deconcentration: Transferring responsibilities to field and subordinate units of government (no distinct legal entity). </li></ul><ul><li>Devolution: Transfer of competencies from the central state to distinct legal entities at lower level. It acknowledges the importance of local ownership and the need to adjust planning and resources allocation to specific local settings or priorities  potential for downward accountability + active citizen engagement. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Local government <ul><li>Local government </li></ul><ul><li>Government at local level </li></ul>
  12. 12. Functional decentralisation <ul><li>Political decentralisation. The transfer of political and legislative power and authority to the sub-national level; </li></ul><ul><li>Administrative decentralisation. The transfer of decision-making authority on functional responsibilities (like planning, implementation, HRM) related to the delivery of a select number of public services or functions to the sub-national level; </li></ul><ul><li>Fiscal decentralisation. The transfer of funds and resources as well as the revenue generating authority to the sub-national level of government. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Recent trends in decentralisation <ul><li>From “decentralization of government” to “decentralized governance” or “democratic local governance”: the art of governing communities in a participatory, deliberative and collaborative way to produce more just and broadly acceptable outcomes. </li></ul><ul><li> more attention in basic service delivery process is placed on government-citizen relationships, civil society engagement, public private partnerships, social accountability, etc. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Democracy challenges <ul><li>Consumer culture and privatisation </li></ul><ul><li>Political disaffection and failures of representation </li></ul><ul><li>Technocracy </li></ul>
  15. 15. Governance <ul><li>Governance: The formation and stewardship of the rules and institutions that regulate the public realm; the space where state as well as economic and societal actors interact to make decisions. </li></ul><ul><li>Quality of governance: is measured in terms of how well various actors (i.e. not only government) handle the rules and institutions that make up the basic dimensions of the political regime. </li></ul>
  16. 17. Why is it important to address good governance? <ul><li>“ Good governance is the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development ” </li></ul><ul><li>Kofi Anan. </li></ul><ul><li>Quality of governance affects quality of service delivery (good governance as a means to improve livelihood) </li></ul><ul><li>Quality of governance affects legitimacy of the state (good governance as an end: building local democracy) </li></ul>
  17. 18. Essential characteristics of “democratic local governance” <ul><li>UN-Habitat Guidelines on Decentralisation and the Strengthening of Local Authorities (April 2007): </li></ul><ul><li>Concerted efforts in capacity-building and institutional reform  strengthening of local authorities. </li></ul><ul><li>Participation through inclusiveness and empowerment of citizens shall be an underlying principle in decision-making, implementation and follow-up at the local level. </li></ul><ul><li>Local authorities should recognize the different constituencies within civil society and should strive to ensure that all are involved in the progressive development of their communities and neighbourhoods. </li></ul><ul><li>The principle of non-discrimination should apply to all partners and to the collaboration between stakeholders. </li></ul>
  18. 19. Essential characteristics of “democratic local governance” cont’d <ul><li>Representation of citizens in the management of local authority affairs should be stimulated, wherever practicable. </li></ul><ul><li>With a view to consolidating civil engagement , local authorities should strive to adopt new forms of participation such as neighbourhood councils, community councils, e-democracy, participatory budgeting, civil initiatives and referendums. </li></ul><ul><li>Records and information should be maintained and in principle made publicly available. </li></ul><ul><li>An increase in the functions allocated to local authorities should be accompanied by measures to build up their capacity to exercise those functions. </li></ul>
  19. 20. Why is it important to address good governance at the local level? <ul><ul><li>At local level there is direct interaction between government and citizens </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More services are decentralized to the local level </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An increasingly larger part of government budget is spend at the local level </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It is at this level where “consumerism” and citizen dissatisfaction is most apparent on the one hand and where on the other hand the government (or the state as an institution) derives a large part of its legitimacy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>If local government is not accountable to its citizens or not responsive to their expressed needs, people will loose trust in the processes that regulate interaction and ultimately in their (local) government. </li></ul>
  20. 21. Reasons for Local Governance Assessments <ul><li>Diagnostic: </li></ul><ul><li>For identifying gaps and constraints in local policy implementation; for identifying specific capacity-building needs, for evidence based planning on local governance. </li></ul><ul><li>Monitoring and evaluation: </li></ul><ul><li>Monitoring results of capacity building efforts and changes in governance and for providing an objective account of achievements of local government, and thus building accountability. </li></ul><ul><li>Dialogue and advocacy: </li></ul><ul><li>For creating a platform to involve civil society and citizens in local governance and to empower stakeholders to demand change based on evidence. </li></ul>
  21. 22. Starting a Local Governance Assessment 1 <ul><li>1. There is no use to conduct a comprehensive local governance assessment if: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You know that the decentralised system is not functioning according to certain minimum standards (i.e. if delivery mechanisms, basic institutional procedures, planning and budgeting, staffing, clearly delegated mandates, inter-governmental relations, etc.).  First get the basics in order and than start addressing governance issues. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You are not able to tackle the issues raised and the capacity needs of the stakeholders involved that emerge from the exercise. This will only lead to frustration and dissatisfaction. The drafting of a Capacity Development plan and a related budget should be part of your strategy from the start. </li></ul></ul>
  22. 23. Starting a Local Governance Assessment 2 <ul><li>When we are dealing with Local Governance we need to be aware that there is not one reality. We are dealing with different stakeholders with different perspectives and therefore different expectations </li></ul><ul><li>These expectations are often not explicit and sometimes not realistic. This is why an assessment process is usually a capacity building process at the same time and a start of a dialogue process. Which is why it is extremely important to make the assessment as inclusive as possible. </li></ul>
  23. 24. Starting a Local Governance Assessment 3 <ul><li>You can’t just copy an assessment tool from other countries, while you even might have to adjust your instrument to a regional or local level depending on the geographical diversity in your country. </li></ul><ul><li>This depends amongst others on: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The extend and level of institutionalisation of devolution (i.e. local government’s mandate and level of autonomy); </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The existence and actual functioning of democratic structures and processes (e.g. the extend of the invited space for citizen participation); </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The capacity of local government in terms of staffing, resource availability and resource mobilisation; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The vibrancy and capacity of civil society (including the media) and the voice of citizens. </li></ul></ul>
  24. 25. Starting a Local Governance Assessment 4 <ul><li>Governance assessment is not the same as performance measurement although it is related. </li></ul><ul><li>Making it part of a local government performance management system could undermine the purpose of the whole exercise to unearth deviances in governance as municipalities involved will strive to obtain a high score and not a real score; </li></ul><ul><li>Who should own the methodology and the results of the assessment? Is it a central government issue: curbing bad governance, is it a Civil Society issue: holding government accountable or is it a Local Government issue: improving its own performance? </li></ul><ul><li> who is the leading agent? </li></ul><ul><li> neutral facilitator </li></ul>
  25. 26. Starting a Local Governance Assessment 5 <ul><li>The driver of the process of Local Governance Assessment should have its own idea of what “democratic local governance” ideally means in the specific country context as this defines the framework and benchmarks against which you assess the actual situation. </li></ul><ul><li>One should then either make clear at the start of the exercise to all the stakeholders what that “ideal situation” is or include a collective visioning exercise in the consultation process. Balance local ownership with comparability. </li></ul><ul><li>7. Be clear on the purpose of the exercise. Is it done to influence policy making at national level? Is it mainly to identify actual capacity gaps at local level or is it to initiate an actual dialogue process at the local level. The purpose should define the instrument, not the other way around. </li></ul>
  26. 27. Starting a Local Governance Assessment 6 <ul><li>Guiding question should be: “Why are services not as they should be?” Revisit the starting question regularly. </li></ul><ul><li>Selection of instrument: use resource persons/literature to get an indicative idea of what the issues are (the instrument should be able to address the hot issues). </li></ul><ul><li>Doing a LG assessment is a big investment ( € 10.000-30.000 per municipality)  Invest a lot of time in proper design, testing, initial consultation of stakeholders, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>11. Decide whether to focus on Local Government only or also on ministries at local level  lack of coordination is often an important bottle neck for efficient service delivery. </li></ul>
  27. 28. Starting a Local Governance Assessment 7 <ul><li>12. Preparation at local level includes: political buy in, objective data collection and analysis, stakeholder group selection. </li></ul><ul><li>Try to strike a balance between direct needs vs. structural systemic issues (capacity to solve their own problems balanced by immediate impact). </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure high level political support (administrators reluctant). Convince local political leadership of potential win-win situation: greater transparency, rule of law for everyone, reduced corruption, better responsiveness, etc. will enhance the legitimacy of the local government and politicians and likelihood of re-election. </li></ul>
  28. 29. Starting a Local Governance Assessment 8 <ul><li>15. Use as much as possible indicators that are actionable and action worthy. </li></ul><ul><li>16. Be cautious with use of data. Most methodologies can’t stand the test of scientific rigorousness. To achieve that would be too costly. Always mention that you present the perceptions of people regarding governance. The findings are however robust enough to identify trends, to isolate the most important governance areas that require attention and to establish benchmarks for participating municipalities </li></ul><ul><li>Use Appreciative Inquiry techniques: the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen a system’s capacity to apprehend, anticipate, and heighten positive potential. Appreciative Inquiry looks for what works in an organization and strengthen that and not (only) for what goes wrong. </li></ul><ul><li>See </li></ul>
  29. 30. Ensuring inclusiveness <ul><li>Treat local governance assessment as a collective learning process to start understanding each other. </li></ul><ul><li> Work with groups individually (to stimulate the emergence of true opinions): collect scores, motivation and issues </li></ul><ul><li> and work with them collectively (to stimulate dialogue). Use differences in perceptions and scores as a starting point for dialogue and collective prioritisation. </li></ul><ul><li>2. Inclusiveness starts at the definition and selection of stakeholder groups. Many of the instruments give you the freedom to select stakeholder groups. </li></ul><ul><li>If you don’t include marginalised groups explicitly they will not be heard (stakeholder, sub-indicators, segregated data) </li></ul><ul><li>Dissemination of findings as broad as possible (local radio) </li></ul>
  30. 31. How to ensure that findings are used 1 <ul><li>Capacity development should be issue based. This requires intensive tailor made support. </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure high level political support and buy-in to ensure that the more systemic issues that emerge are addressed. </li></ul><ul><li>As mentioned earlier, ensure on forehand that there is a budget and technical support available to address capacity needs identified at local level. </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure that your methodology is rigorous, i.e. that the results are accepted by all stakeholders. One way to do so is to triangulate your methodologies. </li></ul>
  31. 32. How to ensure that findings are used 2 <ul><li>5. Apply the principle of “good enough Governance”: select what is really critical and prioritise with all stakeholders. Address direct capacity needs of all stakeholders and tackle systemic issues at the same time (requires high level government commitment). </li></ul><ul><li>6. Isolate those aspects of democracy, which Local Government authorities can address on their own and those that require the involvement of other stakeholders (such as national or regional officials). </li></ul><ul><li>7. Build on the strengths that are identified during the assessment and don’t focus on the shortcomings only. </li></ul><ul><li>8. Separate problems that require major institutional change, those that involve personalities or individuals, and those than can be addressed through policy change. </li></ul>
  32. 33. Practical next steps <ul><li>Is the basic decentralised institutional infrastructure in place and functioning? If not, get that in order first. </li></ul><ul><li>Decide on ownership of LG assessment. </li></ul><ul><li>Depending on where ownership resides: involve the right partners. </li></ul><ul><li>Decide on purpose: (Egypt) Diagnostic + monitoring = policy informing  how to get local buy in? </li></ul><ul><li>Decide on scope: Include all LGs or only a selected number (if to design a national capacity development support programme a limited number of 20-30 LGs might be sufficient). If limited, selection criteria. </li></ul><ul><li>Clarify budget: for exercise + for follow up support (LGs only or LGs and CSO?) </li></ul><ul><li>Assess what secondary data are ready available </li></ul><ul><li>Select instrument </li></ul><ul><li>Adjust instrument to country setting + specific requirements </li></ul>
  33. 34. Exercise 1 <ul><li>Describe the contours of a local governance assessment framework for Egypt (or your country) addressing: </li></ul><ul><li>1. Is the timing right (are basic delivery systems in place and operational)? If not, what needs to be done first? </li></ul><ul><li>2. If yes, which category of tools (1-3) or which combination of tools would be most applicable? </li></ul><ul><li>3. Using the matrix, which tool could be your guiding tool? Take into consideration: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can it be made country specific (but also applied country wide)? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do the objectives address both local development needs and strategic policy agenda? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(for Egypt) Can it unveil the hidden costs of bad governance  base for evidence based strategy to enhance good governance at local level? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(for Egypt) Can it promotes the emergence or strengthening of Social Contracts at local level? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is it poverty and gender sensitive? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can it be based on the right combination of ready available secondary data (in a minimal setting) and primary (perception) data? </li></ul></ul>
  34. 35. Exercise 2 <ul><li>In your setting (i.e. supporting government policies regarding decentralisation, civic engagement, etc.), which sub indicators that are actionable and action worthy might be useful to assess the present state of governance and capacity gaps at local level? Select from: </li></ul><ul><li>Participation: “invited space” </li></ul><ul><li>Participation: “claimed space” </li></ul><ul><li>Accountability: “internal” </li></ul><ul><li>Accountability: “external” </li></ul><ul><li>Efficiency: “value for money” </li></ul><ul><li>Transparency: “access to information” </li></ul><ul><li>Rule of Law: “extent of corruption” </li></ul><ul><li>Equity: “equal accesses to resources” </li></ul>
  35. 36. Conclusions <ul><li>By conducting Local Governance assessments we are able to assess the quality of governance at local level in such a way that: </li></ul><ul><li>Governance becomes measurable and thus discussible at local and national level; </li></ul><ul><li>We can detect capacity building needs amongst all stakeholders that if addressed properly can strengthen governance; </li></ul><ul><li>We are able to prioritize, plan and budget for related capacity building activities; </li></ul><ul><li>We can (based on a sufficient number of assessments) provide evidence based policy advice to central government. </li></ul><ul><li>Start to create emerging social contracts between government and civil society by showing that they work towards the same objective albeit with different instruments and that win-win solutions to governance problems are possible. </li></ul>