Improving Public Governance: Closing the Implementation Gap Between Law and Practice

Sound laws are a key foundation of democratic governance and economic development in every country. Yet, formulating such laws is only half of the puzzle. The other, more challenging, half is ensuring that the legal framework is properly implemented.

All too often the act of adopting a legal framework is regarded as an end in itself as it assumes that laws are administered and services delivered. All too often the fact that there is more to governing than the mere adoption of laws is overlooked. And all too often citizens, businesses, and the civil society are witness to wishful thinking expressed in legislative solutions that fail them in practice because the incentives for implementation are misaligned.

This phenomenon, known as the implementation gap, is the difference between what solutions have been adopted in legal documents and their actual implementation in practice. It affects countries across the globe and applies to laws passed at all levels of government.

Closing the implementation gap in each country will require different solutions and must be tailored to individual circumstances in order to be effective. This manual is intended to explore why the implementation gap happens and offer some possible scenarios and approaches for the three key stakeholders needed to solve this problem – governments, private sector, and civil society. The manual also includes first-hand journalistic accounts of how damaging implementation gaps can be to local governance and development prospects in countries around the world.

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Improving Public Governance


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