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LESSONS:

Local Government Infrastructure Improvement Project: Project Completion Report

sector: Transport, Water and Other Urban Infrastructure and Services | country: Sri Lanka

Adequate support to local authorities. At the outset, it was clear a more robust support system to local authorities for design and supervision was required. Advisors at the provincial council level supported local authorities intermittently, but additional support for preparing feasibility studies, cost estimates, engineering designs, and bidding documents was required for smooth implementation. The project rectified this gap reallocating for additional design and supervision consultant (DSC) consultancy packages and increasing existing consultants’ inputs. Projects need to be realistic about what can be achieved given the capacity. It would be prudent to include in DSCs’ terms of reference the preparation of operation and maintenance (O&M) plans for new subprojects.

Standardization. Since the project packages were numerous and relatively small, documents and processes should have been standardized as much as possible for efficiency and quality. For example, project-specific bidding document templates, as well as standard terms of references for all project committees, could have been drafted by the Project Coordination Unit (PCU) and approved by ADB at an earlier stage. Standard documents, reports, and monitoring forms to be used by the Subproject Coordination Units (SPCUs) were introduced on 20 June 2008.

Requirement for financial intermediary transformation. For the Local Loans and Development Fund’s (LLDF) professional operation, the project established systems, such as loan management software and operational manuals. However, the organization requires a full-time, qualified head to further drive its growth and sustainable expansion. The current part-time status of the chief executive officer will make it difficult for the organization to thrive. In addition, linkages between LLDF and the Finance Commission, which determines allocations to the nine provinces, could help mainstream LLDF as a sector player that catalyzes continuous improvement of local-level administration and governance through financial incentives.

Project leadership. The project had two nuclei for management-PCU and Project Management Unit (PMU). Although this arrangement was a risk-mitigating measure since LLDF had no project experience, future projects should have only one project director responsible for the project (e.g., PCU under the Ministry of Local Government and Provincial Councils or MLGPC was responsible for the overall project, and leadership was under the PMU director).

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