Syndicate content

Add new comment


Many thanks for your comment. Two quick points if I may.

1) I think it's worth distinguishing between better design (of policies, programs and projects) and better implementation. The discussion in the Bank last week on "deliverology" (which seems to have promoted the science of delivery debate) was essentially about improving implementation, and doing so in real time. I have a post on reconciling the two sciences of delivery today on LTD, and extended the ideas in a presentation yesterday to the president, the chief economist, and the chief economist's advisory panel. I don't disagree that the Bank could do more to help better implementation in real time, but I think it's important we don't lose sight of the huge amount of analytic work that's been done – and continues to be done – on design and implementation issues. While this work hasn't been called the "science of delivery", most of it merits that title: it's hard evidence, based on a social scientific theory of change. I get the sense not everyone knows about it, and feels that the "science of delivery" is virgin territory!

2) In thinking about how to get better design and better implementation, it’s worth reflecting on what the analytic work on delivery tells us might be a reason why design and implementation may not be as good as they could be: weak accountability and poor incentives. Are TTLs and managers rewarded sufficiently for projects and policy dialogue that are built upon the best knowledge available? And are they rewarded sufficiently for good implementation? My sense is the answer to both questions is No. If that’s the case, organizational changes that don’t tackle this fundamental issue will fail. DfID recently took bold steps on the first of these, introducing anonymous peer review, with peer reviews expressly told to recommend rejection or “revise and resubmit” for projects that are poorly designed due to a failure to incorporate state-of-the-art thinking on the topic being addressed. Martin Ravallion had a proposal along these lines though the idea could probably be handled within the existing paperwork. He also had a bold idea that would help tackle the second problem – weak incentives to implement well. He and Mead Over proposed that staff acquire “development impact wealth” over their career according to the development impact of their projects; these points would translate into real money, and would continue to accrue even after a new TTL has taken over the project. Of course, other people will have other ideas. My point is that unless the ideas for change address the fundamental issues of accountability and incentives vis-à-vis putting knowledge to use in design and implementation, I suspect our wheels will be just spinning in the sand. 

You asked about the DEC Visiting Expert Program. The details are here. The first round closed on 3/31/13 but I’m sure there will be others. Demand was very strong!