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Guatemala Decentralization and Local Governance

Latin America and the Caribbean USAID 2005 2009

DevTech was the prime contractor on USAID’s Decentralization and Local Governance program in Guatemala. DevTech provided technical assistance in municipalities and coordinated assistance for national-level institutions to improve the capacity to support decentralization. In two cases, contract results were modified mid-course due to changes in Government of Guatemala requirements for municipalities. DevTech conducted the necessary technical analysis to adjust the program activities and re-target assistance. DevTech also helped the Governor of the San Marcos Department establish a system for municipalities to implement reconstruction activities and monitor reconstruction projects in the aftermath of Hurricane Stan.

DevTech incorporated an integrated performance monitoring system for its work at the local government level, which includes indicators for more than 20 lower-level results, and data collection (baseline and yearly) in 15 municipalities. The system served as a basis for establishing indicators of municipal development and guided program activities.

The Program had four Sub-Intermediate Results (IR):

  1. Sub-IR 2.1 More transparent systems for management of public resources by local governments
  2. Sub-IR 2.2 Increased devolution of responsibilities and resources to the local level resulting in greater responsiveness by local governments to citizens’ needs
  3. Sub-IR 2.3 More opportunities for citizen participation in and oversight of local government decision-making
  4. Sub-IR 2.4 Local capacity for the development and implementation of reconstruction program strengthened in the San Marcos Department.

The Sub-IR 2.1.indicator measured the improvement in the fiscal performance of the selected municipalities. For the 13 selected Program municipalities, intergovernmental transfers were, on average, 92 percent of total revenues in 2008. The annual rate of growth of own-source revenues for the 13 selected municipalities increased from -0.5 percent in 2005 to 41.2 percent in 2008.

Technical assistance was delivered through three mechanisms:

  1. Updating the municipal fees schedules;
  2. Improving operating regulations and collection of fees for municipal services; and
  3. Strengthening policies to reduce the avoidance of the payment of municipal services.

In addition to the improvement in revenue collection, the Program successfully strengthened the public financial management systems at the municipal level. These included a public procurement system, financial management system, auditing units, and internal controls. In the base year of 2005, the average score for the 13 municipalities was 31 out of 100 points. When the Program closed in September 2009, the average had increased to 89 out of 100 points.

Sub-IR 2.2. increased devolution of responsibilities and greater responsiveness to citizen needs. The focus of the activities in this Sub-IR was to change the dynamics at the national level for decentralization.

The Program:

  • Developed a proposal for a municipal tax code and a municipal code;
  • Introduced a solution for the problem of municipal debt;
  • Designed a Single-Window for Municipal Projects as the mechanism to improve the coordination of national and municipal public investment; and
  • Provided legal assistance for the revision of the statutes of national-level municipal associations to reform their reform its governance structure.

The indicator for Sub-IR 2.3 was defined as: “Number of Municipalities with Municipal Development Council (COMUDE) Citizen Participation Commissions operating”. Although the target was seven (7) COMUDEs, by the end of the Program 10 COMUDEs had been established and were functioning with the appropriate commissions and committees. Those formed included the participation of municipal authorities and community leaders. These commissions monitored the commitments made by the COMUDE. In addition, the commissions were conceived as a space to improve the quality, not only the number, of women participating. The Program experience suggests that women participate more actively in small groups. Over the course of the four years of field implementation, a total of 22,744 persons participated in training workshops, COMUDEs, and Commissions (not exclusive to Citizen Participation). Of this total, 24.8 percent were women.

Sub-IR 2.4., local capacity for the development and implementation of reconstruction program strengthened in the San Marcos Department.At the request of USAID, Sub-IR 2.4 was added to the Program to contribute to the reconstruction process in the Department of San Marcos in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Stan. In the aftermath of Hurricane Stan, DevTech provided technical assistance during a two-year period to 14 municipalities as well as the governor’s office to track and manage rehabilitation projects to ensure their completion, and strengthen the Municipal Planning Offices and COMUDES to take a pro-active role in the process. A tangible outcome was the design of an easy-to-use management information system for monitoring infrastructure projects that can be used at the municipal levels. The Program has worked with the Secretariat of Decentralization (SCEP) to establish a one-stop window for processing municipal investment projects, and also worked with SCEP and Executive Secretariat of Planning and Programming to replicate the program as a model across the country.

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