The Local Public Sector Alliance–-with Decentralization.Net as its online platform–was established in June 2021 by Jamie Boex, Serdar Yilmaz, and Paul Smoke, with the aim of creating a global network of advocates for efficient and inclusive decentralization and localization by establishing partnerships with policymakers; academics and researchers; global development practitioners and sector-focused specialists. In 2022, Chas Cadwell, Astrid Haas, and Rose Vincent joined LPSA to form the organization’s first Board of Directors. In 2023, Enid Slack joined as LPSA’s current Advisory Board Chair.

A short history of the Local Public Sector Alliance ought to reflect its roots and foundations, going back to WBI’s Fiscal Decentralization Initiative; the activities of its precursor—the Local Public Sector Initiative—at the Urban Institute (2010-2015); its transition period (2015-2021); LPSA becoming a stand-alone non-profit organization (2022); and LPSA’s emergence as a global professional network of advocates for decentralization and localization (2023-current).

Roots and foundations

While the Local Public Sector Alliance is a young organization, it has deep roots within the global Community of Practice on (fiscal) decentralization, going back as far as the World Bank Institute’s Fiscal Decentralization Initiative (FDI), which was initiated by the World Bank Institute, the Council of Europe (CoE), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in 1996. Led by Bob Ebel, FDI was an effort to coordinate donor activities and to serve as a development and dissemination learning center for decentralizing countries around the world (e.g., Ebel and Yilmaz 2002; 2002b). After the Initiative itself concluded in the early 2000s, much of FDI’s efforts were continued by the World Bank (e.g., World Bank 2007; 2008; 2009).

2010-2016: The Local Public Sector Initiative at the Urban Institute

The more immediate foundation of the Local Public Sector Alliance was formed by the Local Public Sector Initiative (LPSI). The Local Public Sector Initiative (LPSI) was initiated at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., in December 2010 with the mission to promote inclusive societies and global development by enhancing the understanding of decentralization and localization as complex, cross-cutting and multi-stakeholder reforms.

Envisioned primarily as a research initiative, LPSI’s efforts focused on better defining and measuring devolved and non-devolved local public sector arrangements; exploring the impact different multi-level governance arrangements on public sector outcomes; and better understanding ways to unlock the local public sector in order to achieve inclusive and sustainable development at different government levels. LPSI’s collaborative research efforts were supported by a broad partnership of bilateral and multi-lateral agencies. Notable knowledge products produced by LPSI include:

2015-2021: Transition

In 2015, the Local Public Sector Initiative started a transition away from the Urban Institute. As part of the transition, Decentralization.Net was established as a global portal for knowledge sharing on decentralization and local governance issues. From 2015-2020, content on Decentralization.Net was managed by Renata Simatupang. Highlights from this period:

2022 – LPSA becomes a stand-alone non-profit organization

2023 and beyond: Emergence as a truly global professional network

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