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Can a symphonic strategy make for better government?

A strong and well-coordinated Center of Government (CoG) is of unquestionable importance in the development of a nation. The veritable nucleus of the state, the Center of Government is the conductor that raises the melody to which all line ministries march.  It masterminds the ultimate development goals and ensures that these various ministries, each with separate interests and responsibilities are moving in harmony towards a common goal.

As noted by ICS division Specialists in a recent Technical Note on Centers of Government (IDB-TN-591) it is important to remember that “CoG institutions are not directly involved in service delivery and do not focus on a particular policy area but, rather, deal with the strategic management, coordination, monitoring, overall improvement, and communication of government action.” It should be further noted that many of the issues faced by governments in the region are, ministerially speaking, crosscutting or “horizontal” and cannot be adequately solved by “vertical” action or action by one ministry alone. Given this backdrop, the case for investing in a stronger and more proactive Center of Governance becomes clear.

The Government of The Bahamas (GOBH) is looking to accomplish just this. With the commencement of the procurement process for two major consultancies, one for a firm to develop a National Economic Development Strategy and the other to support structural re-organization of the National Investment Authority, the Bahamas is advancing quickly towards the objective of a strengthened Central Government with respect to its planning and investment monitoring functions.

These activities, components under the Technical Cooperation (ATN/FI-13792-BH) Strengthening Institutional Capacity in the Office of the Prime Minister, represent an important milestone in the modernization of The Bahamas. This initiative speaks not only to the commitment of the Bahamian government to a critical reflection of the current state of affairs, but to the outlining of a roadmap to a tomorrow that is not only idealistic but both measurable and achievable. In a press conference with local media outlets held on January 23, 2014, Minister of State for Investments, The Hon. Khaalis Rolle emphasized the government’s commitment to this initiative and ultimately noted that it is one that will undoubtedly improve the overall health and sustainability of the Bahamian economy.

Regionally, The Bahamas is not the only nation making such strides in the modernization of its Center of Government.  Among others, Jamaica, Belize and Trinidad and Tobago have all recognized the value in such investments. Trinidad & Tobago, in particular, has embarked on a similar Technical Cooperation to the tune of some USD $500,000 towards the development of a Strategic Research Unit in its Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development. This unit, besides providing economic analysis of various development challenges, is also expected to recommend potential strategic interventions on a more data-based model.

The reality is that, modernized or not, the centers of government, with batons raised high, will continue to lead the forward march. The only question, really, is whether the tune raised will be one of organization and uniformity, or of a decidedly more cacophonic nature.

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