PurposeThe object of this paper is to understand how central–local relations and internal technical characteristics contribute to performance reporting delays at the local level in a Global South context.Design/methodology/approachThe paper develops and tests four propositions using a combination of secondary data analyses and semistructured interviews with 30 local government officials.FindingsThe findings indicate that delays in performance reporting are generally high in pre-election years because leadership commitments at the local level largely shift toward national politics (campaigning for re-election of the president). Additional reporting delays were found to be the result of low financial capacity to maintain appropriate data collection and management systems, lack of highly trained monitoring and evaluation experts at the local level and lack of sanctions for noncompliance.Research limitations/implicationsThe fact that some types of Districts (large municipalities and metro areas with access to large financial resources) were excluded from the analysis induces some bias to the findings. The choice of 30 out of a total 260 local governments limits the analyses to only 12% of views and perceptions of local government reporting delay. Additionally sourcing responses from a few monitoring and evaluation (M&E) personnel out of hundreds of mid- to upper-level employees limited the breath of discussions that could have resulted from a broader study.Practical implicationsThe results of this paper suggest that any attempt at imposing sanctions on late reporting may not be very successful since national party politics, which lie outside the control of municipalities, is one of the main factors that drive reporting delay. Rather than imposing sanctions, government should consider incentivizing the reporting process. On the other hand, since internally generated funds (IGF) and the M&E team are factors that lie within the control of the municipality, any attempt to decrease reporting delay should first focus on improving local revenues and strengthening municipal M&E capacity building.Originality/valueThis paper adds to the existing literature by offering directions for approaching performance reporting delay in two ways. First, it emphasizes central–local relations as an important political determinant of performance reporting delay. Second, it explores reporting delay in Ghana's local governments and therefore provides useful insights from a Global South perspective.
International Journal of Public Sector Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 29, 2020
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