Decentralization is quintessentially a cross-cutting public-sector governance topic that is at the intersection of multiple disciplines including, economics, political science, public administration, and management. It is a broad and complex area of public sector reform encompassing wide-ranging issues from public financial management to human resource management, procurement, and beyond.

In the last two decades, while less attention is being paid to decentralized governance by the global development community, there has been growing recognition within the global development community outside the governance stovepipe that there is a need to strengthen multilevel governance and intergovernmental systems in developing and transition countries to make them function more effectively and efficiently in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), since most (pro-poor) public services are delivered at the local level, whether by the deconcentrated departments of line ministries, devolved local government authorities, or through other mechanisms.