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Podcast: Helder Da Costa from the g7+ talks on post-2015 & the New Deal

 Helder Da Costa, General Secretary of the g7+ group of fragile states, is about to head to Mexico to represent the group at the First High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership.

Ryan Flynn caught up with Helder in London to discuss what the g7+ would like to see come out of the meeting, progress implementing the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, and how the g7+ secretariat is changing and evolving as an organisation.


Randomized control trials (RCTs): interesting, but a marginal tool for governments 

In the pursuit of this impact-seeker’s Nirvana, it’s easy to conflate a couple of things, notably that an RCT is not the only way to evaluate impact; and evaluating impact is not the only way to use evidence for policy. Unfortunately, it is now surprisingly common to hear RCTs conflated with evidence-use, and evidence-use equated with the key ingredient for better public services in developing countries. The reality of evidence use is different.

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Giving institutional reforms a chance to succeed

It’s now common dogma among development experts that institutions are central to improving the welfare of the poor. And we now also have a better understanding of the types of policies that are conducive to development. There is also agreement that institutions must deliver on their responsibilities for countries to succeed: tax authorities should be able to raise resources effectively; and executing agencies deliver expected services or outcomes. However, after decades of reforms and billions spent in aid, success stories of institutional development are few and failures all too common. It is like a re-run of the movie ‘Source code’ but unlike the movie there are no solutions and no happy endings.

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Public finance reforms: politics matters, but so does government capability (Part 2)

Government capabilities can’t be imposed. Big structural and permanent changes cannot be introduced exogenously. Instead, government capabilities are the equilibrium outcome over time of endogenous choices by key political actors. Still, there is plenty of room for helping governments to develop. Here are some ideas.

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The service delivery agenda: beware, there be doughnuts!

Public services don’t work in all sorts of ways. Many service delivery problems are knowable and understandable; more knowledge enables those who care to come up with better solutions. But there can always be too much of a good thing.

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