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Municipal Best Practices

Helping municipalities increase their capacity to deliver services efficiently, boost citizen participation and promote economic development.

The ability to deliver services in a transparent manner, deal with regional and national authorities, develop budgets, draft ordinances, promote local development and encourage citizen participation are essential skills in governing a municipality. 

Not many mayors and council representatives come into office with years of experience.  Training and knowledge helps them develop expertise in these areas.  Besides helping those in office respond to constituent needs with transparency, our best practices help develop citizens’ skills so they can participate meaningfully in government planning and decision-making.

Best practices include:  

  • Establishing local economic development entities;

  • Taking town meetings to neighborhoods to bring public servants closer to citizens;

  • Increasing transparency through accountable public spending;

  • Creating citizen dialogue tables to manage specific issues; and

  • Introducing Smart Governance digital tools to improve service delivery. 

Fast Facts

There are some 18,000 municipalities or similar jurisdictions in Latin America and the Caribbean, which generally represent the most basic level of service delivery to citizens.  Although neighborhood councils and citizen committees exist in some localities, municipalities largely represent the grassroots of politics and governance.  This is the level where citizens usually come into the most frequent contact with elected officials and where they learn what to expect as well experience responsibilities as a citizen. 

Some of Our Successes

We have worked in Colombia since 2007 to help local governments boost citizen outreach and promote open government at the local level.  In El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras we have helped improve local governance through consultations, workshops and foreign exchanges to boost economic activity, strengthen service delivery, involve citizens in improving public security and communicate more effectively on radio, television and the Internet.  In Mexico, we have worked with municipalities on strengthening transparency and citizen participation. 

In July 2013, we hosted a public forum in Washington, DC on participatory budgeting and the incorporation of digital technology to boost citizen outreach that included international subject matter experts and partner municipality representatives such as Lead E-Government Specialist Miguel Porrua of the Inter-American Development Bank, Open Government Specialist Tiago Peixoto of the World Bank, and Mayor Mardoqueo Cancax of Patzún, Guatemala. 

In September 2013, we organized a best practices exchange in Guatemala City that brought 15 municipal partners from Guatemala and Honduras together to share experiences and showcase results in local economic development, rendering public accounts, citizen participation and citizen security initiatives.  Twelve of the 15 municipalities institutionalized the practices, making them their own and increasing confidence and support among their local populations. 

Another exchange in September 2014 in Guatemala gathered municipal security commissions from six communities to share best practices on preventing violence and addressing public safety challenges.  They were joined by officials from Guatemala’s Public Ministry, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the World Bank and the German Society for International Cooperation.  

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