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The World Region

Getting the basics right: How to manage civil servants in developing countries

Jan-Hinrik Meyer-Sahling's picture
Graphic: World Bank

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.

Governments can only be effective if the people in government – that is its civil servants – are motivated and able to implement policy and services well. In many developing countries, this remains a remote aspiration. Corruption, lack of staff motivation and poor performance are both popular stereotypes and real-world facts. For many decades, international aid programmes have invested in civil service reform to change this reality. The track record of these reform programs has unfortunately been poor.

How to catalyze innovation to end corruption

Ravi Kumar's picture

World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva giving opening remarks at a high-level anti-corruption event at the Spring meetings.
World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva giving opening remarks at a high-level anti-corruption event at the 2018 Spring Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank Group. Photo: World Bank

We have to fight corruption by making sure it doesn’t happen in the first place and use technology to give every citizen a voice in this effort, said World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva in her opening remarks at a high-level event last Wednesday where leaders from government, the private sector, civil society, media, and academia discussed how to catalyze innovation to end corruption.

During a lively discussion, Thuli Madonsela, an Advocate of the High Court of South Africa, emphasized that public officials must have a track record of the highest standard and integrity. Peter Solmssen, Former General Counsel of Siemens AG, and AIG encouraged building trust that can lead to embracing the private sector as a potential partner.

"Real governance" in Fragile, Conflict-affected and Violent States - What is that?

Camilla Lindstrom's picture
Children in a school in Kinshasa. Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank.

The Fragility Forum was held in Washington D.C. from March 5 to 7. More than 1,000 people from over 90 different countries attended. At one of the events, ‘Real Governance in FCV settings: Engaging State and Non-State Actors in Development’ practitioners and policy-makers discussed which actors to work with in complex FCV situations, and what the choice of actors would mean from a human rights and social accountability perspective.

In Fragile, Conflict-affected and Violent States (FCVs), the formal state typically has a low capacity to deliver basic services, to respond to demands and to impose security. It often does not have full or exclusive authority over its territory and is competing with other groups for legitimacy to exercise state powers.

How to help more citizens participate in the global tax agenda

Andrew Wainer's picture
Photo: Mohammad Al-Arief/The World Bank.

Editor’s note: The findings, interpretations and conclusions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the World Bank Group, its Board of Directors or the governments they represent.

Even as domestic tax reform is in the political limelight, there is growing attention to taxation in the developing world and the role of citizens in shaping tax policy.

Making taxes work for the SDGs

Jan Walliser's picture
Also available in: Français
Graphic: World Bank Group

Taxation plays a fundamental role in effectively raising and allocating domestic resources for governments to deliver essential public services and achieve broader development goals.

Game-changers and whistle-blowers: taxing wealth

Jim Brumby's picture
Also available in: Français 

High and rising income inequality is a serious concern in many countries, as highlighted in the IMF’s recent Fiscal Monitor. Wealth, however, is distributed even more unequally than income, as in the picture below.

How can we bridge the gap between citizens and state? Previewing the Open Budget Survey 2017

Vivek Ramkumar's picture

 Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank
Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

On 30 January 2018 the International Budget Partnership (IBP) will release the Open Budget Survey 2017 – the latest round of the world’s only independent and comparable assessment of budget transparency, citizen participation, and independent oversight institutions in the budgeting process.

The OBS 2017 findings on the systems and practices that countries have in place to inform and engage citizens — or not — in decisions about how to raise and spend public resources, and on the institutions that are responsible for holding government to account, come at a critical juncture. Around the world, there has been a decline in public trust in government, in part due to instances of corruption but also because of dramatic increases in inequality. In a number of countries, leaders who have disguised their intolerant and reactionary agendas with populist rhetoric have been swept into power by those who’ve been left behind. These political shifts have driven out many government champions of transparency and accountability — especially those from countries in the global south.  More broadly across countries, there has been shrinking of civic space, rollbacks of media freedoms, and a crackdown on those who seek to hold government to account, including individual activists, civil society organizations, and journalists.

How does anthropology help us understand bureaucracy?

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.

A session of parliament
Photo: © Gennadiy Ratushenko / World Bank

Bureaucratic structures are complex. A given country’s norms and values can be difficult to comprehend for outsiders trying to engage in governance reform there. How can anthropologists help us understand the dynamics of a bureaucracy or government organization?
 
In rural Tanzania, more than seven million citizens lack reliable access to clean water. At any given time, 46 percent of rural water points need repair. An all too easy way to rationalize government shortcomings would be to label officials as lazy or corrupt. However, this statement oversimplifies the issue at hand and fails to dive deeper into the underlying bureaucratic structures that hinder successful service delivery.

10 Gov4Dev blog posts from 2017 you don't want to miss!

Ravi Kumar's picture
It’s that time of the year when we look at the blogs we have published over the last 12 months and curate some of the most insightful pieces for you to read.

We also want to thank you for reading, contributing and engaging on what it will take to help governments build capable, efficient, open, inclusive and accountable institutions.

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