From the Ground Up

From the Ground Up: Improving Government Performance with Independent Monitoring Organizations

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 118
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  • Book Info
    From the Ground Up
    Book Description:

    This book is based on a simple concept: no one is in a better position to hold a government accountable than those it governs.

    When governments fail to meet the needs of their citizens, the international community often turns to large external organizations such as the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank. These analysts and monitors may have the resources and expertise to analyze and advise on public spending and governance, but where do they go when the time comes to implement new policies? And can they really have a more nuanced understanding of the country's problems than its own citizens? Who is there to watch day and night to hold the government accountable?

    From the Ground Upproposes that the international community's efforts to improve public expenditure and budget execution decisions would be more effective if done in collaboration with local independent monitoring organizations. Stephen Kosack, Courtney Tolmie, and Charles Griffin track the work of sixteen independent monitoring organizations from across the developing world, demonstrating how these relatively small groups of local researchers produce both thoughtful analysis and workable solutions. They achieve these results because their vantage point allows them to more effectively discern problems with governance and to communicate with their fellow citizens about the ideals and methods of good governance.

    The authors also outline some disadvantages facing independent monitoring organizations, such as insufficient resources, inadequate access to data, and too little influence with high government officials. Collaboration with larger international organizations could help independent monitoring organizations overcome such obstacles, increasing their chances of improving governance -from the ground up.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-0436-2
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Chapter 1 Improving governance from the ground up
    (pp. 1-13)

    This book is based on a simple idea. No one is better placed to judge a government than those it governs, and no one is better positioned to monitor government services to ensure that they perform well and transparently than the citizens who use those services. This book charts the work of 16 civil society organizations—all from developing and transition economies—that have put this idea into practice. These organizations, referred to here as “independent monitoring organizations,” unofficially monitor the decisions and actions of elected officials and unelected bureaucrats. The organizations are small, with limited resources and usually fewer...

  6. Chapter 2 Gather the budget data
    (pp. 14-27)

    To determine the effectiveness of government spending, independent monitoring organizations first need information on government spending, including what the government is spending and how the amounts are decided and allocated. Gathering this information is seldom simple. Many central governments make available budget data that are too aggregated to tell where each peso or rupee was allocated. The officials who handle the money may not need or want good records of how much comes in and goes out, from where and to what. Even where good information exists, it may not be accessible. It may be buried in a ministry archive,...

  7. Chapter 3 Follow the money
    (pp. 28-49)

    Once independent monitoring organizations have gathered information on the budget, the next step is to trace the flow of money from the treasury to service delivery, verifying whether budgeted funds and resources are sent to their intended programs and projects on time and as needed. It is one thing for a government to allocate its resources well. It is quite another for the government to disburse those resources efficiently and effectively.

    There are several potential problems with the flow of funds. Money bound for a health clinic is often handled by a chain of officials after leaving the treasury. It...

  8. Chapter 4 Examine the spending
    (pp. 50-76)

    Once resources make it out of the treasury and through the bureaucracy, they end up in the hands of service providers, where they finally have the chance to improve lives. Determining whether they actually do is the next step for independent monitoring organizations. Are there enough resources to do the job? Are they being used efficiently and effectively? Are services widely available? When most people think of improving government services, these are the sorts of questions they usually ask. The point where resources become services is also the point that provides the most tangible sense of how well a government...

  9. Chapter 5 Recommend solutions
    (pp. 77-85)

    Discerning problems is one thing. Solving them is quite another. Take an example from the previous chapter: analysts found that almost half the teachers in three Ghanaian school districts miss at least a day of school. But are those analysts in a position to develop a solution? Can they figure out what reforms will keep schools open and teachers teaching? And if so, can they convince the government to adopt them? Similar questions could be asked about each of the wide range of problems with the funding and provision of education and health services in developing countries presented in this...

  10. Chapter 6 Disseminate and advocate
    (pp. 86-97)

    After discerning the problems with service delivery, and designing feasible solutions to those problems, the final step for independent monitoring organizations is to inform fellow citizens about their findings and persuade policymakers to implement their solutions. Chapters 2—5 have highlighted independent monitoring organizations’ ability to develop subtle understandings of problems with service delivery and to recommend useful solutions. This chapter deals with how independent monitoring organizations finally use their findings.

    Independent monitoring organizations can use results from their studies in two ways: disseminating their findings and recommendations and directly advocating for those recommendations. Dissemination seeks to influence the government...

  11. Chapter 7 Possibilities and lessons of independent monitoring
    (pp. 98-104)

    This book opened with a simple idea. No one is better placed to judge a government than those it governs, and no one is better positioned to monitor government services to ensure that they perform well and transparently than the citizens who use those services. The embodiment of this idea is the independent monitoring organization—typically a small group of analysts and advocates who assess government policies and services in the hope of improving transparency and performance. Independent monitoring organizations have a head start in assessing the government because their analysts are also citizens. They live with the government. They...

  12. References
    (pp. 105-108)
  13. Index
    (pp. 109-118)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 119-120)