For more than a half century, governments have been decentralizing their bureaucratic structures and administrative agencies as a part of an effort to democratize political systems, allow more popular participation in public affairs, make public service delivery more efficient, and extend coverage by giving local administrative units more responsibility for providing public services.

Types of and Reasons for Decentralization

Governments generally use one or more of four types of decentralization to achieve their objectives. First, deconcentration transfers responsibilities and authority to lower levels within the central government.

Second, devolution grants powers for selected functions or activities to local government units. Third, delegation empowers special authorities or quasi-government organizations to carry out specified functions as agents of the central government. Finally, deregulation shifts authority from the government to the ...

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