Country systems capacity

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Among the wide range of CD challenges that developing countries seek to address, there are a number of generic capabilities that relate to the core functions of government/ public administration that need to be in place to facilitate effective and transparent management of public resources including those received through development assistance.

These core capabilities are commonly referred to as country system capacity(ies) and include: public financial management, monitoring and evaluation, statistics and information management, and procurement. While these are rightfully addressed as fundamental concerns of public administration and management, they necessarily involve stakeholders in civil society such as parliaments, representatives of the private sector and interests groups, the media etc. Thus a multi-stakeholder approach ought to be encouraged that allows these capabilities to be addressed as fundamentally national or system-wide capabilities.

The focus on country system capacity is also driven by the aid effectiveness agenda.  It is recognized that progress towards donors working through country systems, reducing reliance on parallel implementation mechanisms, and promoting harmonization and alignment behind country driven national and sector policies/strategies depends on core country systems being in place that meet minimum standards of functionality. Creating robust core capabilities is also fundamental to for developing countries to exercise ownership and to manage their own affairs while strengthening legitimacy vis a vis society at large.

Significant donor attention is being given to strengthening the core capacities of partner governments. However, experience suggests that past efforts have been overly technocratic and have not taken adequate account of the drivers and impediments to change and reform. It is also acknowledged that donor assistance has remained highly fragmented, with inadequate attention paid to issues of prioritization and sequencing and often resulting in overwhelming counterpart governments.

The significant level of investment in strengthening government systems is reflected in the substantial knowledge resource base that is building up around these areas. This resource corner highlights some key resources but does not more than signpost the reader to more specialized sources.

Readers are also encouraged to review the resource corner on the enabling environment...