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Constituency Development Funds Workshop

Center for International Development Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy University at Albany, State University of New York December 8-9, 2009


The State University of New York Center for International Development (SUNY/CID) kicked off a major project on “constituency development funds’ with a workshop for 25 academics and practitioners at the University at Albany’s Rockefeller College on 8-9 December 2009. Constituency development fund (CDF) is the generic name for a policy tool that dedicates public money to benefit specific political subdivisions through allocations and/or spending decisions influenced by their representatives in the national parliament. 1

As economies in the “developing world” grow and their political systems become increasingly stable, CDFs have become increasingly popular. They are found in a growing and diverse set of developing countries, such as Kenya, Bhutan, Jamaica and Papua New Guinea, as well as in the distributive politics (generally called “pork barrel”) in US national and state level policy making. Operations of CDFs remain controversial in donor communities because they raise fundamental questions about democratic theory, the efficacy of government service delivery, the extent to which such service delivery can be made accountable, the role of legislators in selecting development priorities, and how public participation in policy making can be made more meaningful. It is a propitious time to launch a comprehensive program of exploratory and practical research on CDFs.

The workshop in Albany capped off initial preparations for a longer-range project in which academics and policy makers will generate comparative information and insights into the operations of CDFs. SUNY/CID committed to provide leadership in the development of tool boxes of good practices in norms and procedures that can assist policy makers in strengthening the effectiveness of CDFs as tools of participatory policy making. Workshop participants concluded by outlining a broader and comparative policy and research agenda designed to enhance the capacity of CDFs to foster development and good governance. 2

The workshop explored three dimensions of activity surrounding the increasing employment of this policy tool in a diverse set of governments across the globe:

1 This report employs CDFs as a generic term although such funds are called “electoral development funds” in Papua, New Guinea, for example. The program and list of participants is appended to this report. 2


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