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Building the Capacity of Governments and Organizations


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The growing use of data-driven decision-making helps public service providers and users focus on the best use of scarce resources, and promotes transparency and accountability. NORC’s skill set allows us to support that trend.

Katie Mark, Principal Research Scientist
International Programs

There’s a growing trend toward projects meant to expand the capacity of governments and citizens to plan for themselves in systemic, data-driven ways. NORC has been conducting actionable assessments and evaluations on governance and civil society, and providing technical assistance on a wide variety of capacity-building initiatives.

NORC just completed the second year of an expansive four-year monitoring, evaluation, and learning project for USAID in Tanzania called Data for Development. The project’s goal is to improve data-driven decision-making, planning, and implementation for USAID’s mission-wide portfolio in Tanzania and its local partners, including the National Bureau of Statistics and other Tanzanian institutions.

Our work in Tanzania includes:

  • A representative survey of 9,800 households in 13 districts examining citizens’ satisfaction with service delivery and options for citizens' engagement on governance issues

  • Evaluations of water, roads, education, and health projects

  • An impact evaluation on economic growth in the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania and Zanzibar

  • GIS maps that illuminate the geography of health, social, and economic needs and the USAID programs that seek to address them

In Ukraine, NORC conducted a midterm evaluation of USAID’s Enhance Non-Governmental Actors and Grassroots Engagement (ENGAGE) project, designed to increase citizen awareness of, and engagement in, civic activities at the national and local levels. In addition to pilot initiatives to foster civic coalitions and develop local capacity to ensure long-term civic engagement in democratic reforms, ENGAGE created and helped implement a national civics curriculum. Based on feedback from hundreds of beneficiaries, including in-depth interviews with youth, vulnerable populations, and civil society organizations, NORC provided targeted recommendations to improve the program, such as focusing on a smaller number of priority issues and adopting a grassroots approach to building coalitions.

The former Republic of Georgia is also looking for ways to improve civic engagement through education. NORC completed an impact evaluation of the USAID-sponsored Momavlis Taoba, or Future Generations project, aimed at promoting greater civic engagement among young people and expanding and institutionalizing secondary school civic education curricula.

In 2013, Zimbabwe ratified a new constitution that devolved significant authority to local governments. USAID asked NORC to evaluate the status of devolution in Zimbabwe to determine if the time is right to start working with local governments to improve service delivery. In late 2019, we began examining whether there is legitimate fiscal, administrative, and political autonomy at the local levels and how local governments are wielding their authority.

As part of USAID/Malawi’s Local Government Accountability and Performance activity, we conducted an impact evaluation of two interventions meant to improve tax compliance in markets: a “bottom-up” intervention aimed at increasing voluntary tax compliance by vendors, and a “top-down” intervention aimed at improving local government capacity to collect taxes and enforce compliance. We found that the bottom-up intervention significantly increased vendors’ satisfaction with services and their belief that paying taxes is a duty. The top-down intervention led to a smaller increase in the likelihood that vendors would report paying taxes because there were consequences if they did not. This suggests that tax compliance can be kick-started by improving services and transparency from the outset, rather than focusing on enforcement.