Thanks to Isa Daudpota I learnt of this excellent initiative.
Professors lead development of Government’s one-stop shop for data
Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Nigel Shadbolt from the School of Electronics and Computer Science, Southampton University, were given a special role by Prime Minister Gordon Brown to help transform public access to Government information. They played a key role in the development of the new data.gov.uk web site that was launched by the Government in January.
Sixty-one-year-old Shailesh Gandhi, who was awarded the Nani Palkhiwala Award for civil liberties this year, is widely known for using the RTI Act effectively for better governance and accountability in public life
The recent appointment of Mumbai-based Right to Information (RTI) activist Shailesh Gandhi as one of four central information commissioners has been widely hailed as a boost to civil society.
Other newly-appointed central information commissioners are Satyananda Mishra, presently secretary with the department of personnel and training, M L Sharma, special CBI director, and Annapurna Dixit, widow of veteran diplomat and former national security adviser J N Dixit. Continue reading
Author: Goran Hyden, Kenneth Mease
Size: 37 pages (500 kB)
Access full text: available online
How can governance assessments enhance governance as an analytical tool and a civic activation mechanism? The World Governance Assessment (WGA) is based on principles of national ownership and local consultation, and the need to strengthen monitoring institutions and diagnostic tools. This Overseas Development Institute (ODI) paper publishes findings from the WGA second round, arguing that it is uniquely placed to serve both donor and local interests. The WGA builds capacity of local researchers, provides a sense of ownership, captures local context, and allows for cross-country comparison. Continue reading
This is a policy brief worth reading. Full text here
Although necessary and often first rate, technocratic solutions alone have been ineffective in delivering real change or lasting results in governance reforms. This is primarily because reform programs are delivered not in controlled environments, but under complex, diverse, sociopolitical, and economic conditions. Real-world conditions.
In political societies ownership of reform programs by the entire country cannot be assumed, public opinion will not necessarily be benign, and coalitions of support may be scarce or nonexistent, even when intended reforms really will benefit those who need them most…
The publication mentions six key challenges for governance practitoners:
Six Key Challenges for Governance Reformers
Uncovering the challenges inherent in building support for governance reform through political analysis;
Securing political will and the best methods for reaching out to political leaders, policy makers and legislators;
Gaining support of public sector middle managers, often the strongest opponents of change;
Building broad coalitions of pro-change influentials and dealing with powerful vested
Transforming indifferent or hostile public opinion into support for reform objectives;
Encouraging citizen demand for accountability to sustain governance reform.
Came across the insightful Brief by Sue Unsworth which argues that:
the key to more effective anti-corruption strategies is to think differently about governance. Instead of starting with an OECD model of governance in mind, and assessing the gap between the developing country reality and OECD institutions, policymakers would do better to start with fewer assumptions, and some questions. What are the underlying reasons for poor governance and high levels of corruption in so many poor countries? What do we know about the political processes involved in building more effective and acountable public institutions?
Some donors are even talking openly about politics. As the British government’s 2006 White Paper puts it: “Politics determines how resources are used and policies are made. And politics determines who benefits. In short, good governance is about good politics.” (DFID 2006:23). The same paper tells us that building better governance takes time and has to come from a political process within each country: outsiders cannot impose models. Good governance is about how citizens, leaders, and public institutions relate to each other, to make change happen. However, despite these insights, the White Paper goes on to advance a technocratic and largely conventional agenda for enhancing growth and improving basic services, with barely a nod in the direction of politics.
This failure to connect the rhetoric about politics with an operational agenda to improve governance and fight corruption is widespread…
Too much focus on broad issues, such as rule of law and accountability, runs the risk that policymakers will end up tilting at windmills while overlooking the particular governance challenges most closely linked to economic growth
Economists used to tell governments to fix their policies. Now they tell them to fix their institutions. Their new reform agenda covers a long list of objectives, including reducing corruption, improving the rule of law, increasing the accountability and effectiveness of public institutions, and enhancing the access and voice of citizens. Real and sustainable change is supposedly possible only by transforming the “rules of the game” — the manner in which governments operate and relate to the private sector.
Good governance is, of course, essential insofar as it provides households with greater clarity and investors with greater assurance that they can secure a return on their efforts. Placing emphasis on governance also has the apparent virtue of helping to shift the focus of reform toward inherently desirable objectives. Traditional recommendations like free trade, competitive exchange rates, and sound fiscal policy are worthwhile only to the extent that they achieve other desirable objectives, such as faster economic growth, lower poverty, and improved equity. Continue reading
“Over the last few years, colonialism, especially as pursued by Europeans, has enjoyed a revival in interest among both scholars and the general public. Although a number of new accounts cast colonial empires in a more favorable light than has generally been customary, others contend that colonial powers often leveraged their imbalance in power to impose institutional arrangements on the colonies that were adverse to long-term development. We argue here, however, that one of the most fundamental impacts of European colonization may have been in altering the composition of the populations in the areas colonized. The efforts of the Europeans often involved implanting ongoing communities who were greatly advantaged over natives in terms of human capital and legal status. Because the paths of institutional development were sensitive to the incidence of extreme inequality which resulted, their activity had long lingering effects. More study is needed to identify all of the mechanisms at work, but the evidence from the colonies in the Americas suggests that it was those that began with extreme inequality and population heterogeneity that came to exhibit persistence over time in evolving institutions that restricted access to economic opportunities and generated lower rates of public investment in schools and other infrastructure considered conducive to growth. These patterns may help to explain why a great many societies with legacies as colonies with extreme inequality have suffered from poor development experiences.”