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From the Ground Up

Improving Government Performance with Independent Monitoring Organizations

Stephen Kosack, Courtney Tolmie, and Charles C. Griffin

Publication Year: 2010

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 Up proposes 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.

Published by: Brookings Institution Press


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Title Page

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p. iii


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p. iv


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pp. v-viii

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pp. ix-x

Over the last three decades democracy has spread like wildfire across the developing world. Billions of people who once feared to speak their mind now have the franchise and the freedoms of speech and assembly. According to Freedom House’s (2008) annual survey of political rights and civil...

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pp. xi-xiii

This book is a compilation of 19 innovative and illuminating projects. It would not have been possible without the contributions of the talented researchers and communications experts who conducted these studies. We thank each of them for building the foundation of the book and for...

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Chapter 1: Improving governance from the ground up

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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...

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Chapter 2: Gather the budget data

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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...

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Chapter 3: Follow the money

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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....

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Chapter 4: Examine the spending

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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...

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Chapter 5: Recommend solutions

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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...

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Chapter 6: Disseminate and advocate

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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...

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Chapter 7: Possibilities and lessons of independent monitoring

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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...


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pp. 105-108


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pp. 109-118

E-ISBN-13: 9780815704362
E-ISBN-10: 0815704364

Page Count: 118
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 609862292
MUSE Marc Record: Download for From the Ground Up

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Government accountability -- Developing countries.
  • Transparency in government -- Developing countries.
  • Civil society -- Developing countries.
  • Non-governmental organizations -- Developing countries.
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