These laws are commonly referred as the right to information (RTI) or freedom of information (FOI). The international community recognizes citizens’ ability to access public information as a human right.
, making their government data available to enable public scrutiny and citizen monitoring, and enhance government accountability. The Open Contracting community is devising Open Contracting Data Standard to enhance disclosure and participation in public contracting processes. In the U.S., the GovLab at New York University developed an OpenData500 project that has an interactive visualization of how U.S. companies are using government data for new business opportunities. It’s all a good start.
Despite all these developments on opening up data interaction, a critical question remains: how can we make sure that governments disburse public resources to those that need it most, and that public contracts are allocated in a transparent, accountable and efficient manner?
In response to such situations, development specialists typically call for sector-wide reforms. And the design of such reforms draws on sector policy analysis and on the assessment of service delivery arrangements and capacity. Increasingly, since the 2004 World Development Report, sector reforms also seek to make teachers, health professionals and other service providers accountable to citizens and communities.
These questions might not be the typical things you would contemplate when eating a salad, but rapid urbanization and changes in climate, agricultural, and food production patterns are raising a host of alarming questions for many. How is the world going to sustainably feed more than 9 billion people by 2050, when farm lands are being converted into industrial and commercial use, and extreme weather events are jeopardizing our future resources?
This is a more daunting problem for China, where under-investment in the food industry and environmental pollution have aggravated the situation. A recent official Chinese government report issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Ministry of Land and Resources shows that more than 16% of China’s soil and 19.4% of farm land is polluted, according to the state news agency Xinhua.
The great struggle of our generation is the global fight to end poverty and build inclusive prosperity while safeguarding the Earth for those who will come after us. At its heart, this is a fight for wiser, more capable governance.”-World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim
Daylight Dialogue Speech, Manila, July 15, 2014
During a recent visit to the Philippines, World Bank Group (WBG) President Jim Yong Kim spoke about the imperative of effective governance for ending poverty. His remarks affirmed that good governance is a crucial part of the development agenda. Quoting President Aquino, President Kim also stressed that “good governance is good economics,” and applauded the Philippine government’s powerful “No Corruption, No Poverty” platform.
President Kim defined good governance as delivering public services effectively and efficiently; protecting citizens from violence and ensuring the rule of law; choosing wise policies and investments; maintaining public assets; fostering a transparent regulatory environment that allows the private sector to create good jobs; and directly confronting corruption so citizens have trust in institutions.
In June, a joint team from Operations Risk, Public Sector Governance and Integrity and Controllers invited researchers from the Corruption Research Center Budapest (CRCB) – Mihály Fazekas and István János Tóth – for a week of discussions with Bank staff on the measurement of corruption risk in public procurement, utilizing big data.
CRCB is an NGO made up of an interdisciplinary team of political scientists, economists, computer scientists and lawyers. Their goal is to help citizens understand corruption in public spending and quality of government, focusing on the public procurement process. Over the past few years, CRCB have been collecting vast quantities of previously unexploited data on public procurement for some countries in Europe, sifting through these datasets to analyze risk of corruption and evidence of cartels, using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods.
As we argued in the previous post, the evidence on performance-related pay (PRP) is limited but generally supportive. However, the evidence base for, or against, PRP is distinctively weak in relation to core civil service jobs outside of the OECD. The conclusion of our recent report1 urges cautious experimentation, breaking out of the evidence-free certainties which have driven so many donor recommendations for reform.
In some cases a more detailed empirical look will likely show that long term career-based incentives provide a better alternative to the short term motivation provided by PRP. In complex public sector environments, with complex and occasionally contradictory objectives and multiple principals, there are arguments that incentives for performance should rely on information which is hard to game as it emerges over the longer term.2
A new publication on Pay Flexibility and Government Performance finds that, in this area as in so many aspects of public sector management, practitioners are hampered by a lack of high quality evidence, particularly for PRP in core administrative public sector jobs. The publication draws on a two sets of data: a review of the literature on Performance-Related Pay in the Public Sector which disaggregates the available evidence by the different public sector contexts, the different types of public sector jobs, the quality of the empirical study, and the economic context; and case studies of PRP in emerging market and OECD countries, which included large perception surveys of government officials.
A related article in the World Bank Research Observer notes that this has not limited the remarkable certainty which opponents and proponents of PRP adopt concerning recommendations for reform. Opponents march behind populist banners such as that provided by Pink, appealing to the idea that monetary and other extrinsic incentives are both counterproductive (because they frequently undermine intrinsic incentives) and unnecessary (because intrinsic incentives can be harnessed and used to maximize individual productivity).
About a year ago, Frank Fukuyama released an article entitled “What is governance?” in the Governance journal that became an “instant classic” in the field. Within a month it had elicited over 15 responses from prominent scholars on the Governance blog, not to mention commentary posted elsewhere—including this blog. It already has over 40 google citations, including articles in Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. And a month ago, Governance journal published two more commentaries on Fukuyama’s original article (by Robert Rotberg and Craig Boardman), reinvigorating the debate.
Last week, we invited Jennifer Bussell from UC Berkeley to present her fascinating study on corruption, politics and public service reforms in the digital age. The study is based in India and draws on a wealth of qualitative and quantitative data collected in 2009 from 20 subnational states, investigating how pre-existing institutional conditions influence e-Governance reforms.
Public service reforms in the digital age constitute a new era of relations between the citizen and the state. However, scholars have argued that much of the discourse on e-Government has been normative, with fairly optimistic predictions, and wanting deeper moorings in public management theory (Coursey & Norris, 2008; Heeks & Bailur, 2007; Yildiz, 2007).