Enablers for an effective and efficient public service delivery at the local level in Jordan: Overview of good practice

The decentralisation reform has raised high expectations that public policies will be brought closer to citizens and that public service delivery will become better tailored based on a bottom-up approach. For this promise to materialise, and indeed have a positive impact on local communities and economic activity, this chapter identifies four conditions that should be fulfilled: 1) a transformation of Local Development Units (LDUs) to act as cornerstones of the public administration at subnational level and for local development; 2) a clarification of the administrative and financial autonomy of subnational government institutions in addressing day-to-day service demands; 3) a coordinated dialogue between the central, governorate and the municipal levels in the identification of citizens’ needs and in rolling out Governorate Development Plans; and 4) a strategic approach to reinforcing capacities and training among local civil servants and elected officials.

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The previous chapter focused on the different models of decentralisation and on describing how decentralisation reform is not an end in itself, but is conceived as a way to bring policies and services closer to the people. Some decentralisation reforms include approaches that increase the supply and quality of local government services, while others stimulate their demand and the community oversight of them.

Public services at local level can either be delivered directly by local governments from their own competences or delegated from other administrations or by deconcentrated bodies from the central government. In many countries, such as Jordan, central government ministries responsible for service delivery have created field offices and delegated more decisions and resources to their local staff. In principle, a welldeconcentrated government system is able to increase and better allocate the total amount of resources available for universal access to basic public services (Work, n.d.).

Yet, it is important that the government considers the key role of local authorities, not only as the channel for citizen participation in strategic planning, but also as a service provider on the ground. In the Netherlands, for example, there is an ongoing debate on the positioning of local government as a decentralised government or as a service desk for all central government bodies1 at the local level. Both approaches, the deconcentrated or the decentralised, have their merits; however the role of the local government in providing public services at the local level needs to be clarified if Jordan is to identify its specific way towards decentralisation.

For Jordan, four key issues should be taken into consideration as enablers for effective public service delivery at the subnational level:

  • • the legal and policy framework for service delivery
  • • strategic planning
  • • inter-institutional dialogue
  • • building local capacities.
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