In February 2016, The SNG team headed by Dinesha De Silva and Dr Gopa Kumar Thampi in partnership with ICTA (Information and Communication Technology Agency ) , conducted a residential workshop with key stakeholders, including senior decision makers of local government to share views on emerging areas and themes of work, to aid in fine-tuning the implementation modalities of the new program. The workshop ended with positive feedback for the SNG program and support for initiatives of SNGP such as using android based mobile applications (etools) and new strategies to strengthen economic resilience, representation of citizens in decision making and redress mechanisms in 9 model sites across the country. This workshop marked the Launch of the Sub National Governance Program.
Introducing the first scientifically designed partner selection process in Local Government
The first phase of SNGP was selecting the top 9 Local Authorities in SL which show the capacity to be transformed into Dynamic Economic Centers- a concept introduced by SNGP.
In most development projects both locally and globally, partner selection for projects and programs are largely depended on the strength of institutional relationships. Thus over time leading way for a monopoly in opportunity and resource distribution . SNGP attempted to create a level playing field for all 335 local authorities of the island to partner with SNGP by preparing an objective, mathematically modeled selection process that selected 3 LAs per province . The LAs were given an opportunity to compete and have an equal probability of partnering with the program.
The initial scores were based on the following guidelines finalized the top 56 LAs that have potential to be DECs from the total of 335.
1. Population Density
2. Urban Character
3 .Entrepreneur Base
4. Economic Linkages
5. Capacity to generate revenue.
The SNGP team then facilitated LA officials from the top 56 LAs to conduct in-depth assessments on mechanisms in place for budgeting, citizen engagement, grievance handling etc at these write shops to pick the best LA per province. The top 56 LAs were further assessed on.
- Current Performance
- Clear commitment to contribute resources for implementing SNGP
- Willingness to adopt innovations and reforms
- Demand for addressing current deficiencies in the existing systems
- Recommendations from the CLG and ACLG officials
The points system singled out the best possible Local Authority per province for the program, LAs placed in second and third places were chosen as replication sites during the second year of SNGP.
The selection process brought the LAs to light on existing strengths and weaknesses of their internal administrative processors. The responses from these officials were overwhelmingly encouraging. Many admitted that they had never conducted such in-depth reflections of their work and have come to realize the mammoth role they play in the national economy only after the SNGP workshops. They were very grateful for the templates provided by The Foundation that have catalyzed self-assessment and ignited motivation to improve service provision in Sub-national governance.
Partner Selection Process
The selection process was complete with the declaration of 9 primary sites and 18 replication sites chosen for the program.
A series of workshops were hosted to introduce the first phase of the Financial and Service Improvement Plan (FSIP) which is designed as a collection of activities to improve economic resilience, representation in governance and redress mechanisms in a local authority. In the first year of SNGP, the activities will focus on improving economic resilience, with representation and redress being addressed in the coming years.
The workshops launched the initial process of tailoring site-specific mechanisms to fine-tune accounting and budgeting practices within the primary LA. Each LA will design a FSIP according to their requirement to improve financial resilience, which will be identified through assessment of systems for Revenue Generation and Collection, Utilization of Own revenue, Financial Strength and Budget Formulation.
SLSNGP intends to address these issues through specific and strategic interventions to enable the selected LAs to become resilient DECs. Meanwhile, over the years, with the support of DFAT, through LEG, TAF has demonstrated many successful models to address these issues on pilot basis. SLSNGP will develop FSIP for each of the partner LAs in view of addressing these critical issues. The FSIP will be the road map for transforming the LAs to perform the true role of DECS within the project duration.
The concept of the FSIP can be simplified as follows; in view of creating a resilient city or Local Authority, they should be strengthened in four areas as depicted in the following diagram.
FSIP Design Workshop
The financial and service improvement plan that is being carried out by the Local Authorities are site-specific activities that tailor to the exsting strengths and weaknesses of each LA. In order to come to scientifically and objectively derive the best possibe activities for each LA, SNGP conducted baseline studies using 4 different approaches .
The first series of baseline was using the electronic citizen report card. Prior to the survey,community development officers from the 9 chosen Local Authorities were given capacity building training to conduct electronic surveys on public satisfaction of public services offered by the Local Authorities. Tabs were used to conduct the surveys instead of paper and pen, which required less time for recording and analyzing complex data. The development officers were given intense training on how to use these tabs, how to converse with the public , ethical considerations and using a non-political approach when asking questions. The information collected assessed citizen satisfaction along the parameters of gender, ethnicity religious and proximity to the city center.
A master trainers pool was initially created to support TAF, to lead the eCRC survey process on the ground. The master trainers were chosen according to their performance in previous years. Following the master trainers session, up to 30 development officers were trained per site.
eCRC field surveys were then carried out at each location to collect citizen satisfaction on 12 LA services. Sample households were chosen from all GS divisions to represent the different communities around the LA. The survey was carried out at all 27 local authorities which that are partnered with SNGP (3 per province). The Tabs were awarded to the respective ACLG officers that are linked to each LA.
Introduction to eCRC
The revenue management tool and budget management tool were introduced to the local authorities to visualize budget trends over a period of 5 years. The tool gives insights to the comparison of budgeted and actual amounts for the first time in history. The raw data were entered by the local authorities to a web based tool which provided a detailed analysis of capitol and recurrent expenditure . The Foundation assessed the current own revenue allocation of capitol expenditure. The capitol expenditure value was of significant importance as it is the total sum of the LAs own revenue which is allocated for new development work, which directly serves the citizens. LAs on public money to serve the public. From the money collected, the money that is give back to the public is what is “spent on development”.
One significant conclusion from the baseline studies on the capacity for economic resilience is that Own revenue generation must be improved to improve service delivery. One method of increaing this Own revenue is through non-traditional income sources. SNGP will focus on assisting local authorities design revenue generating business models within their development projects.
In september this year, SNGP partnered with LLDF. The Local Loans and Development Commissioners (LLDC) is a statutory body created under the Local Loans and Development Ordinance No.22 of 1916, presently operating under the Ministry of Finance & Planning (MFP). The Local Loans and Development Fund (LLDF) is a fund formed under the LLDC.
LAs were trained through a series of workshops on the formulation of feasible business projects. The feasible business projects will be thoroughly assessed by the consultants of SNGP to ensure the capability of profit generation in a short while to LAs while providing a service to the community to the project.