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One-stop shops and the human face of public services

Jana Kunicova's picture
Graphic: Nicholas Nam/World Bank

Delivering pension or disability services may sound mundane, but if you have seen the recent award-winning movie, I, Daniel Blake, it is anything but. As the film poignantly demonstrates, treating citizens with respect and approaching them as humans rather than case numbers is not just good practice -- it can mean life or death. In the film, Mr. Blake, an elderly tradesman with a heart condition, attempts to apply for a disability pension. In the process, he navigates a Kafkaesque maze of dozens of office visits, automated phone calls, and dysfunctional online forms. All of this is confusing and often dehumanizing.

A book about the role of civic technology for the public good

Tiago Carneiro Peixoto's picture
 
Photo: World Bank


The use of technology to promote citizen engagement has been described as “the next big thing”, and is often associated with adjectives such as “disruptive”, “transformational,” and “revolutionary.” Yet, in contrast with the deluge of blog posts and tweets praising technology’s role to promote smarter and more participatory governments, one finds limited evidence on the effects of technology on citizen engagement practices.
 
Civic Tech – Assessing Technology for the Public Good is a new book that – we hope – contributes to addressing this knowledge gap.  The book is comprised of one study and three field evaluations of civic tech initiatives in developing countries. The study reviews evidence on the use of twenty-three digital platforms designed to amplify citizen voices to improve service delivery. Focusing on 23 empirical studies of initiatives in the Global South, the authors highlight both citizen uptake and the degree to which public service providers respond to expressions of citizen voice.

Better understanding the costs of tax treaties: Some initial evidence from Ukraine

Oleksii Balabushko's picture
Also available in: Español | Français
Kiev, Ukraine. Creative commons copyright: Mariusz Kluzniak


As the world is increasingly interconnected, international taxation – traditionally more of a niche issue for tax lawyers – is receiving more and more attention in wider discussions on economic development: Double tax treaties, or agreements that two countries sign with one another to prevent multinational corporations or individuals from being taxed twice, have become more common, with more than 3,000 in effect today. And while they may contribute to investment, some have also become an instrument for aggressive tax planning.

How much bang for how many bucks?

Jim Brumby's picture
Rubens Donizeti Valeriano - Panamericano de MTB XCO 2014 - Barbacena - MG - Brasil. Photo: Daniela Luna
Evidence-based rule-making for private sector development and service delivery

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE GLOBAL RIA AWARD 2017


Any visitor to Armenia can testify that the country has delicious food. But diners need to be assured that the khorovats, dolma, or basturma on their plates will not make them sick. How can this be assured?

Some 65 percent of the 320,000 inhabitants of the Brazilian city of Rio Branco use bicycles as their primary mode of transportation, and the popularity of biking is increasing across the country. But Brazil’s 40,000 annual traffic related fatalities makes protective gear a necessity. What is appropriate protection?

Towards a single market for public procurement in Caribbean small states

Shaun Moss's picture
Building seawalls. Photo: Lauren Day/World Bank

The first ever meeting of the Heads of Procurement of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) took place on June 20-21 in Barbados with the dark storm clouds of Tropical Storm Bret as the backdrop. Fittingly, the discussion focused on how to create a common market for public procurement and to use procurement as a tool to better prepare for and respond to the natural disasters endemic to the region.

Water in social accountability – reflections from Tajikistan

Jeff Thindwa's picture
Copyright: Global Partnership for Social Accountability


The saying goes, ‘water is life’, and how so true! But water also drives economic and social development. Clean water supply is vital for health, hygiene and livelihood. Water is essential for agriculture and critical to energy production – and much, much more.

However, more than a billion people currently live in water-scarce regions, and as many as 3.5 billion could experience water scarcity by 2025. Water scarcity is a recognized cause of conflict and migration and is among the top global risks. To be sure, conflict and migration likewise contribute to scarcity of water!

Water Get Enemy: A graphic novel on governance

Daniel Rogger's picture
Story by Daniel Rogger. Graphic by Albert Ohams


This blog post is part of a series for the 'Bureaucracy Lab', a World Bank initiative to better understand the world's public officials.

“Why? Why do we always fail the people of this country?” So reflects the public official who plays the hero in my graphic novel on governance in the developing world. The story, set in fictional Zanzarim, follows the struggles of the ‘Director’ up to that point, as he labours to implement policy that will help his fellow citizens. His exhausting — and frequently unsuccessful — attempts to succeed mirror the many such struggles I have witnessed in the governments of developing countries across the world.
 

Peer Pressure: Tax competition and developing economies

Michael Keen's picture
A race to the bottom. Graphic by Nicholas Nam/World Bank

Economists tend to agree on the importance of competition for a sound market economy. So what’s the problem when it comes to governments competing to attract investors through the tax treatment they provide? The trouble is that by competing with one another and eroding each other’s revenues, countries end up having to rely on other—typically more distortive—sources of financing or reduce much-needed public spending, or both.

All this has serious implications for developing countries because they are especially reliant on the corporate income tax for revenues. The risk that tax competition will pressure them into tax policies that endanger this key revenue source is therefore particularly worrisome.

What can governments do to bridge the gap between producers and users of budget information

Paolo de Renzio's picture
Entering data. Photo: World Bank

In the fiscal transparency arena, people often hear two conflicting claims. First, governments complain that few people take advantage of fiscal information that they make publicly available. Many countries - including fragile and low-income countries such as Togo and Haiti – have been opening up their budgets to public scrutiny by making fiscal data available, often through web portals.
 
Increasing the supply of fiscal information, however, often does not translate to the adequate demand and usage required to bring some of the intended benefits of transparency such as increased citizen engagement, and accountability. Providing a comprehensive budget dataset to the public does not guarantee that citizens, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the media will start digging through the numbers.

What type of bureaucrat are you?

Daniel Rogger's picture
Editor's note: This blog post is part of a series for the 'Bureaucracy Lab', a World Bank initiative to better understand the world's public officials.
 
Bureaucracy Board Game Playing Cards, Avalon Hill


In the world of public sector bureaucracy, what type of bureaucrat are you? 
 
In the board game 'Bureaucracy', you must assume the role of the ‘Lifer’, the ‘Over Achiever’, the ‘Empire Builder’, or the ‘Hustler’.  Each character must use different tactics associated with their personality to rise up the ranks of the bureaucracy to achieve the position of director.  For example, by amassing contacts, the Hustler can attempt a 'power play' on players above her in the hierarchy. 

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