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Challenges in developing a national governance database

While several global databases contain data on countries’ governance performance, and while many governance indicators are produced by national actors such as NGOs, institutes and statistical offices, very few countries maintain a comprehensive, updated database of national governance indicators.
 
Challenges for developing national databases on governance include:
  • Governance indicators are sensitive, especially because they concerns information on the political and power aspects of governance. This raises challenges for protecting the information being collected and for securing the integrity and neutrality of any organization that hosts the database.
  • Political support and a policy framework for developing a database must be secured. For example, in countries where a national Strategy for the Development of Statistics is in place, rarely is there a specific mention of governance data in the strategy.
  • National Statistics Offices (NSOs) may not have a unit allocated to work on governance data and lack the necessary financial and human resources.
  • Governance indicators are a new field, and as yet there exist no international standards for national governance databases. While international standards for economic and financial national databases are well-developed through, for example, the System of National Accounts (SNA), international standards within the area of governance are lagging.

Who should manage the database?

In most cases, the most appropriate organization to host a national governance database will be the national statistical office because of its central mandate for producing and coordinating national statistics. However, in some cases it may be a government ministry that has principal responsibility for the coordinating, monitoring and disseminating of indicators related to the national development plan. In other cases, the database management will be a joint responsibility of several organizations.

In addition to agreeing on an organization that will be the guardian of the governance database, it will be necessary to create a Governance Indicators Team tasked with compiling, updating and processing governance data both at national and local levels. The team may sit within the entity hosting the national governance database and/or draw on expertise from partner organizations, institutes or other national experts. The Team also should undertake basic analysis of the governance indicators; assess the adequacy and other qualities of relevant indicators on governance; identify emerging issues on the generation/compilation of data/statistics on governance; and strategize on ways to generate sub-national/local data and statistics that will serve as basis for interventions to address governance deficits at local levels.