Land registries play a key role in protecting landholders against dispossession and promoting good governance and economic development. Effective land agencies provide efficient and accessible land registration services, transparent land information, and clear ownership records to prevent disputes. Accurate records of property rights provide a basis for delivering services such as water or electricity, levying property taxes, enforcing zoning and environmental laws, and are necessary (although not sufficient) for landholders to use their properties as collateral.
Maintaining an effective land registry is not easy, however. Registries are highly vulnerable to both petty and grand corruption. They also frequently suffer from administrative problems common across frontline service agencies: complex procedures that can be so time-consuming as to deter uptake, limited resources and training, difficulty sharing information and coordinating with other relevant agencies, and staff resistance to change.
To address these challenges, some registries have transformed themselves into semi-autonomous agencies, freed, in most instances, from standard civil service rules, with flexibility to adopt new practices and ability to draw on some of the fees they collect to finance their operations. Usually a supervisory board sets service targets, entering into a performance contract with the top agency administrators.
Mirroring the governance and ethos of a private firm, this approach, sometimes termed New Public Management, does not work everywhere, but it can buffer registries from partisan influence while also helping them deliver services in more innovative, cost-effective ways that serve citizens better. This cross-cutting brief profiles five experiments with this kind of governance model—two in high-resource countries and three others in lower income settings.
Authors and Publishers
Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) pursuseds national interests and project the UK as a force for good in the world. We promote the interests of British citizens, safeguard the UK’s security, defend our values, reduce poverty and tackle global challenges with our international partners.
hartered in 1746 as the College of New Jersey — the name by which it was known for 150 years — Princeton University was British North America’s fourth college. Located in Elizabeth for one year and in Newark for nine, the College of New Jersey moved to Princeton in 1756. It was housed in Nassau Hall, which was newly built on land donated by Nathaniel FitzRandolph. In 1896, when expanded program offerings brought the College university status, the College of New Jersey was officially renamed Princeton University. The Graduate School was established in 1900.
The British Academy is the UK’s national body for the humanities and social sciences – the study of peoples, cultures and societies, past, present and future. We have three principal roles: as an independent Fellowship of world-leading scholars and researchers; a Funding Body that supports new research, nationally and internationally; and a Forum for debate and engagement – a voice that champions the humanities and social science.