In recent times, the doctrine of entrepreneurial governments and management principles have been used to transform the way municipalities operate both in the developed and developing world. Measurement of performance has been an integral component of that drive to improve productivity and responsiveness of local governments (LGs) and their leadership. The roles that residents play in assessing the quality of their LG performance are likened to the roles that customers play in determining the long-run survival of businesses.
In Ghana, the performance of local governments (LGs) is a mixed bag. On the one hand there are many LGs that score over 98% in performance assessment conducted by DPAT Secretariat of the Ministry of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development (MLGDRD). Such high performance is rewarded with financial resources to serve as incentives. On the other hand, it is not too hard to hear on radio or read newspaper reports about residents’ dissatisfaction about the performance of their LG or lack of responsiveness on the part of their local leadership. Nevertheless, because there is no assessment mechanism that takes into consideration the perspectives of residents, an impression is created that their voices do not count.
In this concept note, the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development (MLGDRD), the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) and the Office of the Head of Local Government Service (OHLGS) is proposing to conduct a comprehensive assessment and ranking of all local governments in Ghana according to the quality of their governance performance. The ‘Local Governance Index’ (LOGIN) which will be published annually will use residents’ assessment score card to rank the 260 LGs on five governance performance indicators:
- Quality of Administrative Services Delivered by the LG
- Quality of Local Government Executives
- Quality of Social Services Provision
- Quality of opportunities provided for residents’ participation
- Quality of opportunities for economic investment, local employment and income growth
The LOGIN will fill a gap in Ghana’s decentralization and local governance practices -that is; putting residents at the centre of performance assessment of metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs). Citizens’ increasing demands for performance and accountability of their LGs are the key motivating factors for undertaking this assessment. Through the ranking system, the MMDAs will be able to compare their performance thereby promoting healthy competition among the LGs while the MLGRD can use the ranking to allocate resources to jurisdictions that are lagging behind in addition to targeting their leadership to improve performance.
While there are currently Three (3) assessment and ranking indexes in the country (that is DPAT, LGS Performance Evaluation and District League Table (DLT), their methods of assessment rely on secondary data and do not include residents score card. All the assessments, LGSPE, DLT and DPAT assessments on MMDAs are also limited to few sectors and indicators.
The weaknesses of the existing indexes, the need to put residents at the centre of LG performance assessment and the demand by citizens to hold their LGs accountable for performance are the reasons to propose the establishment of LOGIN. It is designed to expand and capture the perception of residents on the quality of local governance that they receive from their LGs. It provides a comprehensive and holistic assessment of LG performance from those who interact with the MMDAs and benefit from their actions. It is expected that the LOGIN will add more relevance and weight to the already existing Assessments (OHLGS Performance Assessment, DLT and DPAT
Other key stakeholders that will find the LOGIN useful are:
- Residents, Resident Associations, Community-based organisations (CBOs) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). It will provide them with advocacy materials to demand better local governance and services from their MMDA;
- Development partners: to provide targeted development programs in specific jurisdictions;
- Investors: with information on LG jurisdictions where investment is likely to succeed;
- Researchers with case study materials to help explain why residents of some LG jurisdictions enjoy better governance and services than others;
- MMDAS: Healthy competition for improved performance.