Elements of Good Governance for the Next Presidential Elections in the United States and Around the World
By Enrique R. Suarez
Public officials must be answerable for government behavior, and responsive to the entity from which their authority is derived.
I firmly believe that promoting accountability in governments build the capacity to undertake economic reforms, implement them successfully, and provide citizens with an acceptable level of public services. Criteria are established to measure the performance of public officials, and oversight mechanisms set up to make sure the standards are met.
Participation refers to the involvement of citizens in the development process. Beneficiaries and groups affected by the project need to participate so that the government can make informed choices with respect to their needs, and social groups can protect their rights.
Enrique Suarez promotes participation in governments by:
- Encouraging the participation of project beneficiaries and affected groups
- Improving the interface between the public and private sectors
- Empowering local government by letting them take ownership of the project
- Using NGOs as vehicles for mobilizing and reaching project beneficiaries
A country's legal environment must be conducive to development. A government must be able to regulate itself via laws, regulations, and policies, which encompass well-defined rights and duties, mechanisms for their enforcement, and impartial settlement of disputes. Predictability is about the fair and consistent application of these laws and the implementation of government policies.
Transparency refers to the availability of information to the general public and clarity about government rules, regulations, and decisions. It can be strengthened through the citizens´ right to information with a degree of legal enforceability. Transparency in government decision-making and public policy implementation reduces uncertainty and can help inhibit corruption among public officials.
5. Reforms should be appropriately sized and sequenced.
Governments need to focus reform efforts on what is feasible. Reform programs should be carefully tailored to implementation capacity and available human and financial resources. It is better to succeed with a few key initiatives rather than to get bogged down due to over-ambition.
6. Improving governance requires commitment.
Governments need to build constituencies and engender a commonality of support for reforms. More focus needs to be put on the influence and power and interests of different stakeholders. To ensure the necessary support for a change it is necessary for governments to appoint individuals with vision and ability to spearhead such efforts. Governance reforms require shared commitments and ownership across the political spectrum at both operating and policy levels, including technical experts, the opposition politicians, and the individual parliamentarians.
7. Governance reforms require adequate resources.
Resources are needed to pay for costs directly related to the reforms, such as transition costs, severance pay, and new information systems. Additional resources are needed to monitor progress, garner support for change, ensure flexibility, and to impose sufficient "clout" to ensure effective implementation by multiple agencies.
Importing recommended practices should be done cautiously.
8. “Readiness for change” needs to be assessed for the lead organizations.
Organizational culture, management style, staff and systems' capacities, internal processes, and external linkages all require careful analysis before embarking on a radical redesign of an operating environment. Systems that work well in industrialized countries cannot often be directly transferred without gradual and sequenced change customized to the degree of “readiness.”
Capacity building requires broad-based interventions, appreciative of complex sets of factors influencing institutional development.
Effective capacity building needs to be based on in-depth sound institutional analysis and may require training, the introduction of information technology systems, and the introduction of new functions, procedures, and work methods.
Organizational “re-engineering” must be understood as a complex set of factors that include an assessment of the capacity of staff and their senior management to learn new ideas, behaviors, rule systems and adapt them to the existing culture of the institution.
Here are a few examples of good governance applications that Enrique Suarez supports:
- Corporate Regulatory Frameworks
- Legal and Justice Reform
- Participation of Civil Society in Public Decision-Making
- Pro-Poor Service Delivery
- Public Administration
- Public Financial Management
- Sub-National/Local Governance