Effective Governance from the Centre: Priority Setting, Steering and Accountability


Priority setting

  • In multilevel systems, how can ministries develop an education strategy with a clear set of priorities that is both coherent and seen as legitimate by the other actors and levels in the system?
  • Can (and should) ministries in multilevel systems take the lead in such strategic thinking?
  •  Do ministries have sufficient information on the complex nature of the system to devise such a strategy, and how can they arrange access to such information?
  •  How can ministries organise the processes of dialogue and negotiation that facilitate such a strategy?



  • In multilevel systems, how can ministries effectively steer the system towards the priorities that were set?
  • How to design policies that on the one hand acknowledge the diversity in the system but are still coherent?
  • How to ensure that central policies are sufficiently tapping into local knowledge? How to design policies that are legitimate at local levels?
  • How can expertise and knowledge at the central level be connected to expertise, knowledge and political processes on regional/local levels?
  • To what extent can information and knowledge be used as steering instruments?
  • What implementation strategies work best in decentralised systems?



In multilevel governance, accountability for the setting of priorities and the effectiveness of steering is complex, especially where – as is often the case –  the responsibilities of different levels and actors overlap.

  • To what extent can ministries be held accountable in such systems? And if they are not, where and how can this accountability gap be filled?
  • Which actors at which levels should be/can be held accountable for which outcomes?
  • What is the role of evaluation and, specifically, of measurement of performance in increasing the accountability of the system?
  • How can unintended and undesirable side-effects of performance measurement best be avoided?



Return to: “Effective Governance from the Centre”, First GCES Thematic Conference, The Hague, Netherlands, 21-22 November 2011.


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