To Serve and to Preserve: Improving Public Administration in a Competitive World

Publication | January 2000

The concepts and principles of good governance: the organization and operations of national and subnational governments, resource mobilization and use, the interface mechanisms between a government and citizens, and performance measurements.

The quality of public administration is central to the achievement of poverty reduction.

While preserving and promoting their basic social values, countries must not only pursue sound socioeconomic development objectives but also deliver efficiently and effectively the public services expected of them.

Factors that obstruct access to public services - i.e., corruption - hinder public service delivery. On the other hand, rapid advances in technology and a more global outlook help improve it.

This book, the first volume in a series, aims to reach

  • policy makers
  • planners
  • administrators
  • civil servants
  • the media in developing countries and transitional economies

It presents the concepts and principles of good governance, i.e.,

  • the organization and operations of national and subnational governments
  • resource mobilization and use
  • the interface mechanisms between a government and its citizens
  • performance measurements

It also discusses successful application of these concepts and principles in various countries. The book hopes to help countries administer their public sector more capably and responsibly, and move closer to the goal of poverty reduction.


  • Foreword
  • Public Administration in the 21st Century
  • Central Mechanisms for Policy Formulation
  • Organizational Structure of Central Government
  • Organizational Structure of Subnational and Local Government
  • Decentralization - What, When, and How
  • Nonministerial Public Bodies and Corporate Governance of Public Enterprises
  • Managing Central Government Expenditure
  • Managing Local Government Expenditure and Fiscal Decentralization
  • Acquiring Goods and Services: Public Procurement
  • Government Employment and Compensation
  • Managing Government Personnel
  • Investing in Government Personnel
  • 'Exit' And 'Voice'
  • Social Capital and Participation
  • Civil Society and Nongovernment Organizations (NGOs)
  • Transparency, Information, and the Role of Media
  • Fostering Public Ethics and Preventing Corruption
  • Performance Measurement in Public Administration
  • The Role of Information and Communication Technology (ict) for Improving Public Administration
  • Experiences in Improving Public Administration in OECD Countries
  • Improving Public Administration in Developing and Transitional Economies: Some Lessons of Experience
  • Appendix
  • Bibliography