Progress is being made on data collection for study on the local public sector's role in achieving development goals

 LPSI News posted by Administrator
 December 31, 2013

 Report Cover

A recent study by the Local Public Sector Inititiative found that countries which spend a greater share of public resources at the local level have a more effective public sector. What is less clear, however, is whether specific sectoral outcomes improve when public services such as basic education of health services are delivered in a more decentralized manner.

If empirical research would show that public service outcomes in education and health improve when services are delivered in more decentralized manner, this would have major implications for the design of development interventions.

While strong arguments can be made that improved local governance and decentralization will contribute to more efficient public services and greater economic growth, this view is not universally shared within the development community. Similarly, the academic research on the role of the local public sector has been unable to confirm to what extent (or under what conditions) a greater degree of decentralization results in better development outcomes. The absence of such evidence can be attributed in part to the complexity of multi-level governance and service delivery systems, as well as to the absence of the necessary data to properly measure the contribution of different government levels to development outcomes.

In order to start filling this knowledge gap with rigorous evidence, the Development Partner Working Group on Decentralization and Local Governance (DeLoG)--in collaboration with the Urban Institute's Local Public Sector Initiative--launched a cross-country study on the contribution of local public sector in achieving global development goals in October 2013. As the first phase of the study, a number of development organizations--including AFD, GIZ, SDC, UNDP and UNCDF--have started collecting data on the structure, financing and functioning of the Local Public Sector in different around the world (using the standardized LPS Country Survey). Countries for which Country Surveys are currently being completed include Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Georgia, Ghana, Macedonia, Mauritania, Mozambique, and Nepal. The initial phase of the study seeks to cover at least 20 countries by the middle of 2014.

The Country Survey not only asks details about the degree to which elected local governments are engaged in the delivery of education and health services, but also asks questions about the role of any deconcentrated local entities in these sectors. In order to properly analyze improvements in sectoral MDG indicators, the survey also asks detailed questions about the share of central government (line ministry) spending that is spent 'at the local level' by central authorities directly.

Once collected, this country-level information will be used to prepare a rigorous empirical analysis of the local public sector's role in achieving global development goals in education and health. Initial results from the study are expected to be presented at the World Urban Forum in Medellin, Colombia in April 2014.