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Really enjoyed your blog and wanted to add a few reflections building on our case study ( Liberia’s 150 day plan that President Sirleaf used to kick-start her second term in 2012.

There’s all kinds of buzz ( days about ‘deliverology’ and the ‘science of delivery’ and a lot seems to depend on exactly how you define them.

I couldn’t agree more on your point that deliverology shouldn’t leave out the client. And an important thing we learned from our case study is that it doesn’t have to. A coalition of Government of Liberia actors deserves credit for the 150 day plan’s success. But alongside government, a local civil society organization, the Liberia Media Center (LMC), tracked and publicly reported on the progress of the 150 day plan which pressured the government into an accelerated and highly successful final 50 days of implementation. In many cases the LMC actually improved the government’s monitoring. Admittedly this isn’t an example of the direct client participation that you’re describing but I think it’s an illustration of how bottom-up accountability and top-down performance management can powerfully complement each other.

Your other main critique is that deliverology focuses too much on the technical and that technical solutions can’t fix problems that have underlying political causes. Again I couldn’t agree more. ODI head Kevin Watkins made a similar point ( recently about what’s missing from the science of delivery discussion. But there’s no reason that political savvy can’t be integrated into deliverology. A big lesson from our case study is that the Government of Liberia recognized that the start of Sirleaf’s new term was a moment of political opportunity and they seized it. Sometimes the best approach (for both governments and partners) may not be to “fix” the fundamental political incentives (which is clearly very difficult) but to find ways to navigate it.

Really glad you’ve kicked off this discussion.