When trust in governments around the world is at a historic low, and a myriad of challenges continue to overwhelm leaders, it’s imperative for government agencies to revamp their strategic communications approach.
Whether it is during a natural disaster or a policy consultation process, citizens expect honest and useful communications from their government agencies. This expectation isn’t misplaced, as they now live in a world where mobile phones and the Internet are ubiquitous.
Governments often succeed or fail because of the way they communicate their vision, mission and policy objectives with the wider citizenry. in the way they communicate and engage with citizens.
The decreasing price of technology such as
Recently, when the devastating earthquake hit Nepal, Nepalis inside and outside the country wanted actionable information as soon as possible. Many of them were talking about the devastation even before the government’s initial statement. Twitter and Facebook are popular in Nepal and people were using the platforms to talk about damage and rescue.
As a Nepali citizen, I know my government has yet to be digitally savvy. Thankfully, the government launched a Twitter account to share the latest devastation numbers and information about rescue operation. It was a strategic use of the tool in a time of crisis.
When Shakespeare posed this question (or something like that) in 1603 he would not have guessed that the President of the World Bank would commit to the ‘science of delivery’ or that many countries we work with would be asking the same question. But they are.
In the technical note When Might the Introduction of a Delivery Unit Be the Right Intervention (pdf) we outlined some of the issues to consider in answering this question. Since then I’ve had the privilege to work with the World Bank colleagues, and others, mobilizing new Delivery Units and for me the tension between strategy/policy and implementation has come into sharper relief. So this piece is to explore a further question: when a country asks for help with delivery, do they (and we) really want assistance with strengthening their strategy and/or policy capacity?
In the technical note, we argued that the innovation of a Delivery Unit is fundamentally about changing the culture of a government to one that is focused on results and improving the way the government gets better results quicker. We also argued that the skills of working in a Delivery Unit are different than those of policy development.
When it comes to engagement in the fight against corruption, developing country governments span a wide range. Some are willing to investigate and prosecute corruption; others are more reluctant.
Some can count on a well-organized and responsive civil service; others cannot. In short, from the perspective of intergovernmental organizations interested in combatting corruption, some governments are better partners than others.
For those states unable or unwilling to be strong allies in the fight against corruption in World Bank projects, efforts must be channeled through actors other than the government. And since corrupt transactions—like a tango (it takes two) —there is always an alternative actor to address: the private sector.
‘Collective governance’ is neither the next buzz word with which to spice up our development discourse nor an attempt by development practitioners to replace traditional governments with some ‘collective’ form of it. Yet it is increasingly central to our work and to helping our clients achieve results.
This was echoed in the discussion at the World Bank last month of the new book Beyond Governments: Making Collective Governance Work, by Jonas Moberg and Eddie Rich, drawing on the lessons from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
Collective (sometimes ‘collaborative’) governance is an innovative model of governance that is solutions-oriented with a focus on public value, where diverse stakeholders can work in partnership to improve the management of public resources and delivery of services.
An important way in which collective governance is being manifested is in so called multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) that bring together government, civil society, and the private sector to address complex development challenges that no one party alone has the capacity, resources, and know-how to do so more effectively. In so doing, MSIs come to complement and not usurp the role of governments in achieving these ends.
. And that’s just a start.
The use of data and technology in procurement make it possible for governments to make informed decisions to maximize development impact. At the World Bank, the Public Integrity and Openness Practice is developing a set of Transformational Engagements, one of which focuses on Data Analytics, to catalyze better outcomes from procurement processes.
The engagement will use data analytics to solve pressing developmental problems. The plan is to combine work on addressing common data problems (how to digitize paper records, how to link different data records, how to present data findings in ways that are accessible and influential) with efforts at the country level. Powered by advanced data analysis, countries can undertake empirical-based examinations of when best value is achieved via procurement, or in which cases and sectors government contracting is promoting the development of competitive and dynamic private sectors.
Work undertaken within the Bank will be informed by the concurrent efforts of others who are exploring different approaches and different techniques to using data and data analytics to drive improved performance. The World Bank seeks to play a constructive role within a community of initiatives to harness the power of information to change how governments function, the relationship between government and non-governmental actors, and the lives of people. Committed to an inclusive process of learning-by-doing, the World Bank is dedicated to building partnerships with researchers, government officials, the private sector, and civil society.
- The World Region
- Public Sector and Governance
- Private Sector Development
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Open Governance; Open Data; Public Finance Management; Public Procurement; Information and Communication Technology; Public Integrity and Openness Practice; Transformational Engagements; Data Analytics; Private Sector Development; Citizen Participation
In May 2015, I was a panel speaker at the 2nd World Bank – International Ombudsman Institute Roundtable on the role of ombudsman institutions (OIs) in promoting citizen-centric governance and inclusive institutions. This was a great opportunity to share the experience of my office, the Ombudsman Republic of Indonesia (ORI) in promoting greater government accountability and also learn from other countries’ experiences presented by the other panelists.
The OIs come in various shapes and sizes, thus encompassing different roles depending upon their national mandates. While OIs are mostly known to deal with complaints regarding maladministration issues not addressed at the agency level, our panel discussed how OIs could contribute to service delivery improvements, while also promoting citizen engagement in demanding accountability.
As fellow Ombudsman Peter Tyndall from Ireland noted, OIs are capable of not only looking into individual complaints regarding poor service delivery often caused by one-off incidences, but also investigate and uncover roots of more systemic problems within public institutions.
China has experienced substantial economic growth over three decades, with sustained annual GDP growth rates of 8%-10%. In order to maintain the growth, the government seeks to accelerate the process of industrialization and urbanization started in the 12th Five Year Plan (2011-2015).
China has made investment in transport infrastructure a centerpiece of its strategy, with investment in the rail sector specifically increasing, in recognition of lower cost, higher energy efficiency, and lower carbon emission of rail transport compared with road and air transport.
, which includes 16,000 kilometers of rail connecting 160 cities on the mainland. China’s Mid- and Long-term Railway Network Plan (2004-2020), adopted in 2004 and updated in 2008, contains an ambitious program of railway network development, with an aim of increasing the public railway network from 75,000 km to 120,000 km, among which 25,000 route-km will be fast passenger railway routes.
Procurement of high-speed railway projects in China is complex and transaction heavy. The technology is constantly changing due to innovation by designers and manufacturers, and the inclusion of multiple agencies and officials can increase the complexity.
Let’s say on a dark, cold day, electricity supply to your house is suddenly interrupted. With no heat and light, you furiously walk to the nearby government energy administration office to file a complaint.
As you file your complaint, an official also asks for your mobile number and tells you that within the next 24 hours, you will receive help. A day later, you get a text message or robocall asking you whether you have been helped and how the service was.
This process—when government proactively seeks feedback directly from citizens about the quality of its services and makes it mandatory for service providers to use smartphones and creates dashboards for citizens to view real-time information on service delivery—is called proactive governance.
Proactive governance was first introduced in 2011 in Punjab, the most populous province of Pakistan.
Albanian citizens who recently received treatment at a state-run hospital are likely to receive a text message that reads something like this: “Hi, I am Bledi Cuci, Minister of State responsible for anti-corruption. Our records indicate that you recently received care in a state hospital.
The SMS campaign, supported by The World Bank and implemented by the Ministry of State for Local Issues and Anti-Corruption, was launched on March 9, 2015.
As of early June, it has reached more than 33,500 citizens in a country of three million. About 20 percent have responded, reporting many service delivery problems.
“The doctors are always late and the corruption continues as always. Without giving away money, no one takes care of you,” read one response. Others complain of lack of cleanliness or the absence of medicines: “No, they didn't ask for bribe, but we had to buy the drugs outside of the hospital because they didn't have any.”
Procurement practitioners are using social media to exchange information and experiences. To allow for this exchange of knowledge and ideas, The China Public Integrity and Openness team of the Governance Global Practice (PIO-GGP) has established a WeChat Platform. The platform encourages the discussion of procurement ideas and strategies for all procurement practitioners, regardless of geography.