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The World Region

The future of government is open

Stephen Davenport's picture

Also available in: Français | العربية


The World Bank Group sees the pillars of a more open and citizen centric government--transparency, citizen participation, and collaboration--as strategic priorities in its work on governance because they suggest concrete ways to promote shared prosperity. Having made significant strides to increasing openness in the Bank's own work, we seek to build on this progress to support client governments in their own efforts to make the development process more inclusive. 

Integrity due diligence: How much do we need to know?

Samuel Harrison Datlof's picture



The World Bank’s “zero tolerance” policy on corruption makes clear how thieves and embezzlers will be dealt with, if they are discovered. But what about before corruption actually occurs—how should the Bank go about preventing fraud and corruption in the first place?

The divide between prevention and enforcement shapes the World Bank’s fight against corruption in ways both subtle and profound. Enforcement is easier to conceptualize; it is tangible. Someone commits fraud or corruption, by siphoning Bank funds away from their intended purpose.  When the Office of Suspension and Debarment slams a company with a sanction, we can quantify the effect.

Prevention, on the other hand, is a slippery idea. It evades definition. Quantifying how much fraud a policy prevents relies on counterfactuals, making it far more difficult to pin down. This means, for better or for worse, innovations and efforts towards the prevention perspective may lag behind enforcement.

Improving Public Investment Management: Spotlight on Ethiopia

Mario Marcel's picture
 
Overview of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo - Arne Hoel / World Bank
Overview of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo: Arne Hoel / World Bank


Last month I met with ministers and local officials in Addis Ababa to explore areas where we, at the World Bank, can help build institutional capability in Ethiopia. The trip was an enriching experience, both personally and professionally. It was gratifying to see first-hand the good work and commitment to development exhibited by our staff in the country.

We have had a decade-long engagement with Ethiopia with a successful track-record. Ethiopia has one of the largest World Bank portfolios in the Africa Region (US$6.1 billion in 2014) and the partnership is strong, with a robust future.

During my visit, I gave a lecture at Addis Ababa University on Public Investment Management before an audience of faculty, students, civil society organizations and donors. I shared with them how much public infrastructure investment has done for the country. Ethiopia has the third-largest public investment rate in the world and three times the average for Sub Saharan Africa.

This effort has contributed to growth that has averaged 10.9 percent since 2004—a figure higher than that of their neighbors or low-income countries on average. Infrastructure investment has also been helpful in expanding access to services and in gaining competitiveness, being a large landlocked country. 

​LGBTI people are (likely) over represented in the bottom 40%

SOGI Task Force's picture


World Bank President Jim Kim recently said “we will not reach our twin goals […] unless we address all forms of discrimination, including bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Sexual and gender minorities are particularly important for the Bank because they are (likely) overrepresented in the bottom 40% -- the target of the Bank’s goal to promote shared prosperity.

Why only “likely”? Because robust data on LGBTI development outcomes is rare, even in high income countries.  With support from the World Bank’s Nordic Trust Fund, we are seeking to fill some of these data gaps, starting with research in the Western Balkans.

What we do know is that, across the board, barriers to education and employment contribute to greater chances of being poor – and this may be worse for LGBTI individuals. 

Available data on Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people shows that youth are more likely to face barriers in getting a good education.  It’s also harder to find – and keep – a job, pushing LGBTI people further into poverty.

Good communication strategy is essential for good governance

Ravi Kumar's picture
2010 post earthquake Haiti. Photo - Mercy Corps Mercy Corps
2010 post earthquake Haiti. Photo: Mercy Corps


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 a digital age, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that governments ought to be proactive in the way they communicate and engage with citizens.
 
The decreasing price of technology such as mobile phones is leading to the rapid democratization of digital communicators.
 
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.

To be a delivery unit, or not to be a delivery unit. That is the question

Ray Shostak's picture
 © Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank  
 

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.

Without public sector partners, how can international organizations like the World Bank combat corruption?

Samuel Harrison Datlof's picture
The World Bank
The World Bank


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.

Procurement data for better development outcomes

Joel Turkewitz's picture


Even marginal improvements in procurement efficiency can mean big savings. 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.

What’s proactive governance?

Ravi Kumar's picture
See the inforgraphic in high resolution here. Designed by Boris Balabanov, World Bank

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.

Financing for Development: World Bank's role in supporting tax and revenue mobilization reforms is critical

Rajul Awasthi's picture

Melissa Thomas, author of Govern like us, speaking at the World Bank recently raised a very interesting question: is our expectation that poor countries with limited resources can deliver high-quality governance unrealistic?

Can these countries provide the public goods and services that citizens demand and need, to be able to forge a strong social contract?

She compares the levels of revenue per capita in rich and poor countries and finds that in the poorest countries, levels of revenue per capita are so low that it would be years, or even decades, until they have enough to provide a decent level of public goods and services.

It is in that context that I thought of Sri Mulyani’s appeal during the Spring Meetings when she spoke of the need to clamp down on tax evasion and avoidance and boost the domestic resource mobilization (DRM) capacities of developing countries as a means of finding resources for financing development going forward.

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