Governance and Service Delivery: Practical Applications of Social Accountability Across Sectors

Book edited by Derick W. Brinkerhoff, Jana C. Hertz, and Anna Wetterberg: “…Historically, donors and academics have sought to clarify what makes sectoral projects effective and sustainable contributors to development. Among the key factors identified have been (1) the role and capabilities of the state and (2) the relationships between the state and citizens, phenomena often lumped together under the broad rubric of “governance.” Given the importance of a functioning state and positive interactions with citizens, donors have treated governance as a sector in its own right, with projects ranging from public sector management reform, to civil society strengthening, to democratization (Brinkerhoff, 2008). The link between governance and sectoral service delivery was highlighted in the World Bank’s 2004 World Development Report, which focused on accountability structures and processes (World Bank, 2004).

Since then, sectoral specialists’ awareness that governance interventions can contribute to service delivery improvements has increased substantially, and there is growing recognition that both technical and governance elements are necessary facets of strengthening public services. However, expanded awareness has not reliably translated into effective integration of governance into sectoral programs and projects in, for example, health, education, water, agriculture, or community development. The bureaucratic realities of donor programming offer a partial explanation…. Beyond bureaucratic barriers, though, lie ongoing gaps in practical knowledge of how best to combine attention to governance with sector-specific technical investments. What interventions make sense, and what results can reasonably be expected? What conditions support or limit both improved governance and better service delivery? How can citizens interact with public officials and service providers to express their needs, improve services, and increase responsiveness? Various models and compilations of best practices have been developed, but debates remain, and answers to these questions are far from settled. This volume investigates these questions and contributes to building understanding that will enhance both knowledge and practice. In this book, we examine six recent projects, funded mostly by the United States Agency for International Development and implemented by RTI International, that pursued several different paths to engaging citizens, public officials, and service providers on issues related to accountability and sectoral services…(More)”