• The world is rapidly changing with increased fragility, migration flows, increasing pressures on resources, and more complex service delivery needs – all amplified by an evolving civic space and a vibrant social media landscape. The ability of governments to respond to governance challenges is stretched while citizen expectations from their governments continue to rise, resulting in an increasing deficit in trust.

    The most recent World Bank Group surveys with opinion leaders in client countries confirm that governance is at the top of countries’ policy priorities.

    The Governance Global Practice supports client countries to build capable, efficient, open, inclusive, and accountable institutions. This is critical for sustainable growth and is at the heart of the World Bank’s twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. Countries with strong institutions prosper by creating an environment that facilitates private sector growth, reduces poverty, delivers valuable services, and earns the confidence of its citizens — a relationship of trust that is created when people can participate in government decision-making processes and know that their voices are heard.

    Last Updated: Sep 27, 2018

  • Drawing on the World Bank Group’s convening power and multidisciplinary expertise, the Governance Practice provides financing, intellectual leadership, and a deep reservoir of global experience to help countries develop practical reforms to address complex governance challenges. The Governance Practice’s strategic priorities focus on five key areas:

    1)      Strengthening public policy processes:

    Many governments adopt good policies but often struggle with gaps in implementation that derail intended outcomes. The Governance Practice helps countries strengthen coordination and cooperation within the executive branch of government, across branches of government and with the private sector and citizens to help close implementation gaps. Our work in these areas includes support for effective centers of government, decentralization, procurement, supreme audit institutions, and judicial reform.

    2)      Promoting effective resource management:

    With persistent fiscal pressures, aligning financial and human resources is more critical than ever. Optimizing resource use is key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), whether in the form of physical infrastructure or for funding the development of human capital that is vital to develop a population’s health, skills, knowledge, and productivity. Yet the countries that need revenues the most often face the steepest challenges in collecting taxes and often face weaknesses in effective budget management and execution. A sound tax revenue base, a fair and efficient tax administration, an efficient system for budget preparation and execution and a capable civil service are essential to support a government’s ability to deliver services and create the fiscal space necessary to achieve inclusive growth.

    The Governance Practice deploys and leverages its technical expertise to help countries mobilize domestic resources more effectively by, for example, strengthening taxation systems, and improving how public money is managed and spent. The Practice advises government on upstream and downstream budget and financial management issues as well as on public administration reform. Openness and transparency are key to improving public accountability. Our work in information technology, e-procurement, data analytics and biometrics is transforming government’s capacity to effectively manage their resources.

    3)      Reinforcing public service delivery:

    Better governance is essential for fair and reliable service delivery. The Governance Practice works with sectoral colleagues to identify and alleviate critical governance bottlenecks in service delivery. Aligned with the World Bank’s mission to help countries invest in its people as part of the Human Capital Project, the Governance Practice is actively engaged in improving service delivery in sectors such as education, health and water. The Practice focuses special attention to where service delivery breaks down, identifying and rectifying bottlenecks in budgeting, procurement, institutional capacity, openness, transparency, and citizen engagement to ensure services reach the poorest and most marginalized. At the frontiers of governance for service delivery is big data, which helps analyze citizen feedback and engagement, and assists governments in understanding how they can become more adept at reaching citizens with what they need, when they need it.

    4)      Strengthening the public-private interface:

    The Governance Practice is focused on the critical interface between the public and private sectors, recognizing public sector risks that may prevent investors from entering a country. More effective systems for public investment management, greater transparency and corporate governance of SOEs, a strengthened regulatory framework, and procurement processes free of capture, collusion, and corruption support an institutional environment that enables the private sector to fill the infrastructure gap. These efforts contribute to the Bank’s efforts to Maximize Finance for Development, supporting a framework that will strengthen private sector confidence and help to catalyze private sector investment. 

    5)      Understanding the underlying drivers and enablers of policy effectiveness:

    Good policy design itself is not always sufficient to attain effective policy implementation. The Governance Practice is also working with regional counterparts to identify and to understand the underlying drivers of policy effectiveness. Drawing on the framework of the World Development Report 2017 on Governance and the Law, the Practice is working with country teams to understand how exclusion, capture, clientelism and corruption affect policy design and implementation. Policy drivers may relate to existing power asymmetries, openness, transparency and citizen engagement, which are rooted in factors such as trust and social cohesion, as well as capture and exclusion. Changing national or international norms and standards with respect to governance and policy preferences may also play a role.

    The Bank continues to identify how these forces influence policy effectiveness as well as corruption. Advances in technology and information management create the potential for transformative impact though generation, exchange and analysis of information in pursuit of better governance.  

    Governance is central to IDA18

    The “Governance and Institutions” Special Theme in IDA18 underscores the importance of governance in achieving development results on the ground. IDA18 commitments are expected to catalyze change, underpinned by specific, measurable policy actions.

    Strengthened institutions and improved governance are especially critical for the world’s most vulnerable countries that need the concessional resources that IDA, the World Bank’s Fund for the poorest, provides. These countries face a range of issues that are deeply rooted in historic and systemic institutional inefficiencies. More effective policy implementation, better management of resources, strengthened service delivery, openness and transparency equip IDA countries to create opportunities for citizen engagement, and help build and maintain trust between the state and citizens. Reducing poverty and promoting shared prosperity is predicated on institutions that are effective in not only solving the problems of the past but responding to the changing needs of the citizens they serve. The World Bank’s response to these challenges are in 12 policy commitments under the Governance and Institutions Special Theme in the final IDA18 Replenishment package.

    Current Portfolio

    The Governance Practice has a loan portfolio of 86 projects totaling over $10 billion, along with a diverse portfolio of advisory activities and grants. In addition, the Governance Practice collaborates with other global practices on more than 50 projects, and governance components are embedded in over 20 percent of the Bank’s active portfolio. Together with the Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Practice, the Governance Practice leads on the implementation of the Strategic Framework for Mainstreaming Citizen Engagement in World Bank Group Operations.

    In FY18, the Governance Practice delivered 21 projects totaling $1.8 billion and 162 advisory and analytical services. It provided fiduciary (financial management and procurement) oversight in all Bank operations and over 40 percent of prior actions in development policy financing were governance related. In FY19, the GGP has 21 projects in the pipeline totaling $1.15 billion in commitments.

    Last Updated: Sep 27, 2018

  • Armenia: Modernizing the Tax Administration

    The World Bank is helping the Armenian Government to reform its tax administration system to broaden the tax base and enhance the business climate through more efficient tax procedures that reduce compliance costs for taxpayers. So far, about 35,000 tax inspectors have been trained, about 96 percent of tax services are provided electronically, and the amount of tax collected has gone up by 38 percent.

    Bangladesh: Improving Public Procurement

    Public procurement reform is one the most effective tools for sustainable public-sector reform. It is at the core of translating public policy into tangible results for citizens in the form of essential public services. The World Bank is helping Bangladesh to improve public procurement by financing an electronic government procurement system that has made the procurement process more competitive, transparent and accountable. This new system saves Bangladesh $90 million each year in public procurement – a saving equivalent to building 2,000 primary schools or 1,000 kilometers of rural roads.

    Brazil: Anti-Corruption and Citizen Engagement

    A data analytics trial in the northeastern state of Ceará, Brazil, explored how mobile surveys and scientific techniques can be used to uncover suspicious patterns of interactions between public service providers and users. In the first experiment, feedback provided by patients through mobile phones was combined with administrative data from hospital services. The second experiment investigated how survey and administrative data could be used to find anomalies in the environmental licensing process. While bribery data collected through mobile phones offered inconclusive results, administrative data were effectively used to identify corruption red flags.

    Central African Republic: Emergency Public Services Response

    CAR is one of the poorest and most fragile countries in the world. The recent conflict shattered the country’s already frail economy and created a crisis. The payment of civil service wages was suspended for the better part of 2013, severely disrupting delivery of public services. The World Bank helped to reestablish an operational payroll system by contributing to the payment of six months of wages for 17,421 eligible civil servants and state employees in Central African Republic through this project. Now, more than 80 percent of civil servants have returned to work, salaries are no longer in arrears, and the government payroll system is operational. 

    Iraq: Public Procurement Modernization

    The World Bank has supported Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in its goal of achieving a modern and effective public procurement system by providing advisory services to  revise, consolidate, and modernize the legal framework for public procurement; develop standard bidding documents to align with the government’s legal framework; strengthen the Ministry of Planning’s oversight of procurement processes and procurement policy development; and create a road map to develop a single-portal procurement website and information system.

    Western Balkans: Financial Reporting and Small and Medium Enterprises

    Improving financial transparency and management among Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) is good for business and good for growth. In the Western Balkans, SMEs can’t readily access financing largely because banks are wary of their lack of knowledge about cash management, business planning, risk management, and succession planning. A new regional program financed by the European Union and implemented by the World Bank provides analysis and advice to Western Balkan countries to help them reform their financial reporting processes. The project harnesses the power of the accounting profession to help small businesses develop standards, institutions, and practices so they can provide banks and investors with reliable and relevant financial information.

    Solomon Islands: Community Governance and Access to Justice

    The World Bank is supporting the Community Governance and Grievance Management (CGGM) Project which helps communities strengthen internal governance and justice and enhances the effectiveness of linkages between communities and government. Through the recruitment and training of Community Officers (COs) who serve as part of provincial administrations, the project provides access to justice for communities affected by natural resource extraction. The project helps improve community cohesion and stability, and promotes more effective connections between citizens and provincial and national authorities, including the police.

    Last Updated: Sep 27, 2018



VIDEO Oct 13, 2015

Good Governance: Why It Matters



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Additional Resources


Washington, D.C.
Elizabeth Price