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What Are the Main Dimensions of Governance?


Governance for the purpose of our study consists of 5 key dimensions:

The first dimension
is the structure of government.  This section should assess the legal and practical separation of executive, legislative, and judicial powers (including how such separation has been achieved); the assessment will be primarily in terms of formal restraint on and oversight of the executive.  For example, the studies may examine constitutional powers and guarantees of the various branches, the prerogatives of the legislature (for example in determining public resource use, in confirming appointed officials), the independence and effectiveness of the judiciary (as determined by formal arrangements, as affected by professional ethics, pay, and willingness to accept bribes, and as affected by practices that co-opt or intimate the judiciary), the independence and effectiveness of official oversight bodies (e.g., the supreme audit authority, ombudsmen), and the independence of prosecution and enforcement of judgments.

The second dimension is the structure of the accountability and contestability of political leaders.  The quality of public policies designed by political leaders is one measure of the quality of governance, and policy choices depend in part on the degree to which leaders are held to account.  This section should focus on the degree of political competition in choosing both leaders and civil servants, the credibility of political parties, the orderly transfer of power, transparency in party financing, disclosure of parliamentary votes and  asset declaration, and the existence and enforcement of conflict-of-interest rules. In addition, it will seek to assess the extent to which (and in what areas) elected political officials (or meritocratically chosen civil servants) are, in fact, the effective decision  makers or the degree to which real political power rests in the hands socio-politically powerful elites operating behind the scenes.  In general, it should assess the general openness of the political structure, including the opportunities for multi-faceted political expression and for non-elites, minorities, and disenfranchised to gain access to political power.

The third dimension of good governance is public sector management.   The comportment and effectiveness of civil servants (and of contractors if delivery of public services is outsourced) in managing public resources, carrying out regulatory functions, and generally implementing public policy are key determinants of the quality of governance.  For example, the studies can assess the extent to which the civil service recruitment and management is meritocratic, the extent to which government wages are adequate and transparently administered (e.g., monetized), the existence and respect of professional and ethical codes of conduct, the effectiveness of public resource management (e.g., comprehensive and published budgets, the absence of implicit subsidies, competitive procurement, timely and open financial reporting, independent external audits), probity and lack of corruption in tax and customs administration, the integrity and independence of regulatory agencies, and the quality of frontline service delivery (perhaps as measured through surveys).

The fourth dimension is open entry and competition in the private sector. The essential issue is the degree to which the governance system allows, or prevents, a limited business elite to consolidate economic power that it then transforms into political power, including influencing officials and laws in ways that further consolidate and protect its economic power.  While the studies should document the telltale signs of the concentration of economic power (the existence of monopolies in law and in fact, the lack of laws and enforcement to assure competitive market behavior, weak corporate governance requirements in the case of publicly traded companies, the existence of powerful business associations coupled to the political elite financially and otherwise, etc.), the heart of the work should be on analyzing the actual impact of such arrangements on the quality of governance itself.  For example, it could explore the linkages between the political power structure and the financial and economic elite.

The fifth dimension is the nexus of issues dealing with civil society, voice and participation.  While part of the analysis will focus on the formal election and referendum process, it will be important to focus on the variety of other channels that help assure stronger voice and participation by society at large – including the role of civil society organizations in the management of public agencies (as with parent-teacher associations), the use of public hearings and consultations on proposed laws and regulations, freedom of the press and the diversity of public opinion that is tolerated (both legally and socially), and the activity of independent government watchdog agencies (like consumer protection agencies, the media, and independent academic institutions and think tanks).

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