Unformatted text preview: ent of public functions from the central government and its agencies to subnational
governments. Taking advantage of their capacity to tailor services to the needs and preferences of communities,
subnational governments are in a good position to provide public services whose benefits are localized. Devolution of
resources and decision-making power is expected to result in improvement in the life quality of the population. Power
can be transferred on three fronts: political, administrative, and fiscal. Although each type of decentralization has
different characteristics, system outcomes, and policy implications, the expected impact in each of them is an
improvement in the life quality of the population (see Figure 8). Ideally, this is the case for a good decentralization
practice that is people oriented.
While distinguishing among different types of decentralization is useful for highlighting its many dimensions, it is
impossible to disentangle the inter-linkages between these three concepts. Political decentralization aims to give citizens
and their elected representatives more power in public decision-making. The concept implies transfer of policy and
legislative power to citizens and their democratically elected representatives at the local level. Political decentralization is
often associated with pluralistic politics and representative government. If necessary, it requires constitutional or
statutory reforms, development of pluralistic political parties, strengthening of legislatures, and creation of local political
units and encouragement of effective public interest groups.
Administrative decentralization seeks to redistribute authority, responsibility, and financial resources among different
levels of government (Rondinelli, 1999). Administrative decentralization can be done in two different ways: functional
and areal distribution of power (Rondinelli, 1981). Functional distribution is the transfer of authority to specialized
organizations that operate across jurisdictions. An example of functional distribution is creation of field offices within
national ministries dealing with health care, education, and transportation issues. Areal distribution of power aims to
transfer of responsibility for public functions to institutions within specified geographical and political boundaries. Usually,
areal distribution of power is to a subnational government - a province, district, or municipality.
In administrative distribution of power, an essential distinction with important implications on intergovernmental relations
system is the form of decentralization: deconcentration, delegation, and devolution.
1. Deconcentration involves the shifting of responsibilities from central government agencies located in the capital city
to regional offices. Rondinelli (1981) defines deconcentration as local administrations in which all subordinate levels
of government within a country are agents of the central authority either appointed by or are responsible directly to
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