The Vertical Assignment of Functions and Expenditure Responsibilities

LPSI Working Paper

The mission of the Local Public Sector Initiative is to advance the global development community’s understanding of the role of the local public sector in achieving inclusive and sustainable development. In line with this mission, LPSI is pleased to issue its first working paper on The Vertical Assignment of Functions and Expenditure Responsibilities (PDF; 2.2 MB).

This working paper provides both a conceptual and practical understanding of “how to” effectively assign functional responsibilities and authorities to different levels of local government (or to different tiers of local administration) in the context of multilevel governance systems. In doing so, it establishes a common vocabulary in discussing functional assignment issues (Section 2); reviews the concept of subsidiarity (Section 3); unbundles and dissects the concept of government functions (Section 4); and considers the role of decentralization as a mechanism to improve accountability and pro-poor service delivery (Section 5). In Section 6 (and the Appendix), the working paper also reviews key functional assignments in health and education for six countries (Cambodia, Mozambique, Indonesia, Kerala (India), the Philippines and Sierra Leone).

Consistent with the “second generation theory” of intergovernmental finance, Section 7 of this working paper also places the discussion of the vertical assignment of functions and expenditure responsibilities in a political economy context that recognizes that central and local political decision-makers do not necessarily try to maximize the well-being of their constituents; instead, the assignment of functions and responsibilities may be shaped by the personal and institutional motivatations of political and institutional decision-makers.

Jamie Boex. 2015. The vertical assignment of functions and expenditure responsibilities. LPSI Working Paper. Washington: Local Public Sector Initiative.