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PII: S0264-2751(01)00027-0

Cities, Vol. 18, No. 5, pp. 347354, 2001 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved Printed in Great Britain 0264-2751/01 $ - see front matter


Urban Management Checklist1

Ron McGill*
UNCDF, 2 UN Plaza, DC2-26, New York, NY 10017, USA

My three previous papers on urban management were developed from practice (1994 and 1995) and then consolidated into wider research (1998). This text carries the conclusions of the research back to the practical world. The theory suggested that there were two parts to urban management; a concern for both urban and institutional development. This paper expands that contention. It does so by outlining the two aspects of urban development; arterial infrastructure and site-specic development. It goes on to clarify the two concerns of institutional development; testing the institutional development imperatives for urban management, then considering specic interventions to build a city councils capacity to perform. The paper concludes by suggesting that these instruments of urban management must be in place before more subtle issues, such as urban governance, can be addressed. 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Urban management, Developing nations, Institutional capacity, Integrated development strategy

It is suggested that from a city managers perspective, urban management in developing countries must achieve two things. First, it must understand the nature of the urban environment it is dealing with. Secondly, it must organise the instruments of intervention in
*Tel. (+1) 212 906 6344; e-mail: 1 The general concept of Urban Management is taken from Ronald McGill, 1996. Institutional Development A Third World City Management Perspective. Macmillan, UK and St Martins Press, USA, 328 pp. The instrument of Urban Management an Integrated Development Strategy and its supporting tests of Integration, Decentralisation and Sustainability are constructed in that text. The instrument and tests are presented here, rened in the light of subsequent practice. This paper was written before the author joined UNCDF. The opinions expressed are entirely personal.

such a way that the institutions conducting urban management are in a t state, organisationally and nancially, to do so. Thus, urban management in developing countries is concerned with both city building (with its insatiable need for infrastructure and services) and council building (with its seemingly endless need for increased capacity to perform) (McGill, 1994b, 1995a). Urban management is therefore considered to be conceptually holistic in its approach to towns and cities in developing countries. At its core, this holism requires that urban issues and institutional responses be considered simultaneously, to ensure a sustained strategic and operational response; the integrated structure of urban management. The acid test of urban management should then be seen as the provision of infrastructure. This supports not only economic development but

also, the spatial distribution of urban growth (McGill, 1998). The provision of infrastructure ranges across the institutional spectrum, from government to the informal sector. The need is therefore to have a central driving force to ensure the necessary inter-agency planning and budgetary co-ordination. Ideally, that driving force should be at the most practical level of decentralised government, namely a robust local or city government. This reinforces the importance of institutional development to urban management (McGill, 1993, 1994a). If urban management is seen in this holistic and integrated way, it may begin to have some success in countries desperately trying to cope with their rapid urban growth (McGill, 1996). The following Urban Management Checklist is therefore the foundation


Viewpoint: R McGill

for an Integrated Development Strategy; the suggested instrument for urban management. The rst part of the strategy concerns urban development; its strategic framework and site-specic matters. The second part looks at institutional development (ID); the ID imperatives for urban management and the specics of city council building. The urban development checklist can therefore be summarised as: Development context Network infrastructure Formal sector development Informal sector development Buildings Basic services Financing.

The institutional development checklist can therefore be summarised as: Integration Decentralisation Sustainability Organisational development Financial development Policy and budgetary development

Each is explained in turn.

ted. Any environmental issues should be made known. Ideally, this should be related to topography. Housing projections should be offered; ideally, the translation of the population growth projections into housing demand. The poverty issue should be acknowledged and dened in relation to local circumstances (eg access to basic services such as clean water or primary health care, or a combination of these and other indicators the indicators being the targets for intervention). This general context or framework for development should highlight the city councils role as the driving force to co-ordinate the preparation and implementation of the integrated development strategy, as the instrument of the wider urban management process. Thus, the greater the involvement of other institutions in funding (like central government), the greater the challenge for the council to integrate their activities as part of the commonly developed and commonly owned strategy. Network, trunk or arterial infrastructure usually includes the following: Water supply. Sewerage systems. Solid waste management. Flood control and general drainage. Power supply. Trunk roads. Other major (non-site specic development) roads.

together. It forms the arteries that allow the city (as a set of land uses) to work.

Urban development specics

Where a city can be fairly clearly demarcated in terms of the formal and informal sectors, this concerns the development or redevelopment of locations within the network infrastructure framework; normally the formal sector. It can include site development for: Housing. Commerce. Industry. Other uses such as government or institutions.

Urban development framework

The general context for development usually includes the following: Population growth. Economic characteristics. Land-use pattern. Infrastructure networks. Environmental issues. Housing projections. Poverty issues. City governments importance in integrating all the players for city building.

Urban growth is a function of population growth. A basic understanding of the population prole and its growth projections should be presented. The fundamental economic characteristics of the city should be recorded; say, the share of industry, commerce and government. The predominant land use zones should be demarcated. This should be done from a functional and not a legalistic point of view. Vacant land should be included. All strategic infrastructure networks should be plot-

All network infrastructure should be recorded accurately, on a topographical map. The water supply system should be plotted. Its capacity (or threshold), condition and level of use should be known. Where a sewerage system exists, it should be plotted, with the same supporting information. Solid waste management patterns and routes should be recorded. Flood control and strategic drainage patterns should be drawn. Any utilities have to be known. Their capacity must also be indicated. Trunk roads, including their rate of use (say, movements per hour in relation to an optimum gure) should be offered. Any accompanying drainage and street lighting should be recorded. The same information will apply to all other (nonsite development specic) roads. Thus, network infrastructure is the collective system that binds the city

This is where new locations are being opened up for development. Ideally, such locations have been determined by environmental and topographical considerations, combined with infrastructure threshold analysis (locating where existing infrastructure still has capacity before embarking on major new infrastructure investment). If services are included, it will include the access road (from the network to the location), a distribution road and all necessary utility channels. Where redevelopment is concerned, the picture is less clear but the idea of boundary demarcation and access routes for all utilities normally plays an important part. This is where the existing land use map assumes a dynamic component; where change is proposed and (at least likely to be) nancially committed. Serviced and upgraded land (traditional and squatter infrastructure) applies where land use patterns have included traditional planned areas for the less advantaged sectors of the community. This includes: Site and service. Squatter upgrading. (Ofcial) area upgrading. Site and service schemes involve the provision of various levels of infrastructure provision, according to affordability, plus plot demarcations, to allow for self-build construction. More enlightened governments are now accepting that squatting is a function of economic development and the formal planning systems inability to cope


Viewpoint: R McGill

with such growth. All else being equal therefore, it is an asset worth incorporating ofcially within the city. Thus, subject to the squatting being in locations that are not objected to topographically, environmentally and in land-use terms, these areas should be upgraded (with basic services being introduced, such as water, sanitation, waste management and primary health care), to include the granting of tenure.2 Buildings are superstructure; that which appears above the ground. Any building projects that are intended and to be nanced, in the public sector, should be identied. Major private sector initiatives should also be recorded. At this level of analysis, only basic services that are fundamental to social development are required. These normally include: Health (primary). Education (primary). Others (by the council). Since they normally serve specic locations, these should be made known. Financing city building is the bridge between the city building process and each institutions ability to fund that process, ideally, co-ordinated by the city government. The analysis of the challenge becomes important. It covers: The integrated development strategys total cost, by institution. Funding the council share. Strategy, programme, budget and consequence desired (SPBC1). Strategy, programme, budget and consequence likely (SPBC2). The compromise and its justication. The purpose of strategy, programme, budget and consequence (SPBC)
2 As chief executive (city manager) of Lilongwe, it took 2 years to get the Malawi government to accept that its urban squatting was a reality and that, subject to the conditions noted above, it should be incorporated into the fabric of the city. These locations accounted for 25% of the citys population. A start was made with water supply and basic sanitation (to improve fundamental public health conditions). A pilot area was then developed for detailed upgrading, including plot rationalisation, for the subsequent granting of tenure. Where squatters had to be removed because of rationalisation, they were offered new plots on the edges of these locations.

analysis is to present the holistic urban and institutional development picture, as one nancial entity. A decision on the scope of any compromise (say, not to develop required housing land) and its justication should then be made. The consequence of not developing the housing (in terms of housing shortage and resulting squatting) would then see the organisational issue of saving money against the urban issue of increased housing problems, with public health consequences (McGill, 1996, p 243). SPBC analysis can project a sobering outcome of short-term nancial decisions (McGill, 1995a). The framework for presenting and testing the integrated development strategys total cost is expanded in the next section. This concludes the urban development part of the urban management challenge. Next comes its supporting institutional development. This looks at the institutional development tests and building measures to ensure that the city government is in a t state (organisationally and nancially) to plan for, provide and maintain the infrastructure and services required of its growing city.

extent of integration required by the coordinating agency for the urban management process ideally, the city council. The matrix offers the core infrastructure interventions. It sets them against the range of possible organisations within a decentralisation spectrum. The point is to identify not only the extent of integration required but also, the nature and location of the organisations (outside the city council) responsible for funding the infrastructure. Thus, the urban intervention matrix sets the interventions in the city building process against the basic organisational options for delivering these interventions. The mode of calculation is cost and resulting percentages. This matrix is presented in Table 1. The decentralisation test concerns how close to the community, the responsibility for urban infrastructure and basic service provision actually goes. The closer it rests with local communities, the greater the score for decentralisation. It therefore concerns: The urban management process. Which institutions participate. The decentralisation framework is made up of an urban management matrix. The matrix is designed to illustrate the level of decentralisation of the urban management process, dened by the functional checklist of the integrated development strategy. The checklist for the development strategy is set against the institutional framework. The importance is to gain an understanding of the level of decentralisation for the urban management process. The urban management matrix therefore sets the urban management process against the basic organisational options for performing these functions. The mode of calculation is a xed weighted score for each organisational option (the greater the decentralisation, the higher the score). This is then converted into a percentage range for each of the three basic decentralisation options. This matrix is presented in Table 2. The sustainability test concerns the components of urban management, through the urban management checklist and the probability of those components being satised by the organisation (the city council), responsible for

Institutional development tests

In the published view cited here, there are three institutional development imperatives for city management; integration, decentralisation and sustainability (McGill, 1996). Each is explained in turn. The integration test is designed to illustrate how much of the planned infrastructure and basic service provision is to be funded by the city council and how much is to be funded by all the other players in the city building process. The extent of integration is the amount of strategic management and general encouragement required from the city manager to all these other players to ensure that the infrastructure planned is actually provided. It concerns: Urban interventions. The various funders. The integration framework is made up of an urban intervention matrix. The matrix is designed to highlight the


Viewpoint: R McGill
Table 1 Urban intervention matrix: extent of integrationa FORM Decentralisation Sector Sub-sector FUNCTION Network infrastructure water sewerage solid waste ood control power supply trunk roads road reconstruction (+ lights) Serviced land (general) housing commerce industry other Serviced land (traditional) site and service squatter upgrading (ofcial) area upgrading Buildings government council Services health (primary) education (primary) other basic services Total infrastructure costs Total service costs (in time frame) Cost Total infrastructure provision Private sector provision Local Government provision Central government provision EXTENT OF INTEGRATION REQUIRED

Delegation Private NGO Busins

Devolution Local government 1 tier 2 tiers

Deconcentration Central government Regional HQ

% 100


Ronald McGill 1996, Appendix.


Viewpoint: R McGill
Table 2 Urban intervention matrix: level of decentralisationa FORM Decentralisation Sector Sub-sector Score FUNCTION CITY BUILDING Context Population; economics; land-use; networks Environment; projections; poverty; city government Network infrastructure water sewerage solid waste ood control power supply trunk roads road reconstruction (+ lights) Serviced land (general) housing commerce industry other Serviced land (traditional) site and service squatter upgrading (ofcial) area upgrading Buildings government council Services health (primary) education (primary) other basic services Financing Total cost by agency; council shortfall SPBC1; SPBC2; the compromise and its justication (Contined) Delegation Private NGO 5 Busins 4 Devolution Local government 1 tier 3 2 tiers 3 Deconcentration Central government Regional 2 HQ 1


Viewpoint: R McGill
Table 2 Continued FORM Decentralisation Sector Sub-sector Score COUNCIL BUILDING Organisational Structures and personnel; planning processes Contextual reforms Financial Cost saving; revenue increasing Long term asset creation Policy Policy development; budget development Integration of policy and budget planning Totals Maximum delegation to the trading sector=145 (100%). Minimum deconcentration within central government=29 (20%). Over 73%=delegated model; 7347%=devolved model; Under 47%=deconcentrated model. Total Score

Delegation Private NGO 5 Busins 4

Devolution Local government 1 tier 3 2 tiers 3

Deconcentration Central government Regional 2 HQ 1


eg 60%=Devolved

Ronald McGill 1996, Appendix.

urban management. It therefore concerns: The urban management process. The institutional frameworks ability to perform it. The sustainability framework is made up of an institutional development sustainability table. The table is designed to highlight the probability of each component of the urban management checklist being performed. The components are given a probability score (to 100%) then a weighting (out of 100%). Thus the entire checklist also results in a probability score. The importance is to gain a feel for what is likely to be achievable and what is not. It is then possible to design additional capacity building interventions to increase the chance of success and self-development. The institutional development sustainability table sets the components of the urban management process against specic observations required for each. The scoring is derived from

the observations. The framework is presented in Table 3. The institutional development tests and their resulting conclusions should highlight both the role and capacity building needs of the co-ordinating city government.

In this context, organisational development embraces the institutional development agenda (McGill, 1995b) namely, the agreed functions (the urban management process) leading to: Structures and personnel. Planning and budgeting. Contextual reforms. It therefore concerns all measures to ensure that a council is able to perform, in terms of human resource deployment and capacity. So, the structure should match the urban challenge it is trying to meet. The processes should generate the outputs to meet that challenge. Any contextual reforms should be introduced to allow the council to perform without impediment.3
3 For example, the Malawi city councils could not start working on the general urban planning and particular housing development challenges confronting them until the legislation was changed and the government orders were issued, transferring planning from the Presidents Ofce and traditional

Building city council capacity

The challenge for any city council is to become the driving force for the urban management process. This means that structures, processes and contextual reforms must be in place to support a councils capability to integrate all the players in the city building process. Also, the institutional framework must be sufciently decentralised (at least somewhere less than the deconcentrated model), to allow the council to be able to perform an urban management process with a degree of condence. The means to achieve it all is the organisational, nancial and planning capacity of a council to perform.


Viewpoint: R McGill
Table 3 Institutional development: testing sustainability VARIABLES AND COMPONENTS (S=scope; M=mode of intervention CITY BUILDING Context Population; economics; land-use; networks; environment; projections; poverty; city government Network infrastructure Water; sewerage; solid waste; ood control; power supply; trunk roads; road reconstruction Serviced land (general) Housing; commerce; industry; other Serviced land (traditional) Site and service; squatter upgrading; (ofcial) area upgrading Buildings Government; council Services Health (primary); education (primary); other basic services Financing Total cost by agency; council shortfall; SPBC1; SPBC2; the compromise and its justication COUNCIL BUILDING Organisational Structures and personnel; planning processes; Contextual reforms Financial Cost saving; revenue increasing; long term asset creation Policy Policy development; budget development; integration S of policy and budget planning Rating for sustainability scores: eg VG=very good chance of sustainability and self development. Over 89%=VG; 7089%=Good; 5069%=Modest; 3049%=Poor; Under 30%=VP CHANCE OF SUSTAINABILITY AND SELF-DEVELOPMENT
a a

S or M


% score

% weight

Weighted % score









Ronald McGill 1996, Appendix.

As well as human resource development comes nancial development. This includes: Cost savings. Revenue increasing. Long term asset creation.
housing from the Malawi Housing Corporation. The orders were eventually issued.

Where inefciencies occur (taking 10 days to achieve some activities when, on closer inspection, 5 days would be sufcient), they should be eliminated. Any cost savings can then be transferred to other needs. No local government in the developing world has enough funds to satisfy its development needs. Some even struggle to cover simple running costs (like salaries).

Therefore, increasing local revenues is a vital task. The most common way to do this is to have a current property database and supporting value assessment, for levying the appropriate local taxes. Long term asset creation is important where the council has the freedom to do so. For example, creating a freehold business park provides a public service and asset for the council. At some


Viewpoint: R McGill

future time, the assets disposal might fund, say new council premises, without recourse to long-term loan nancing. Wider opportunities occur where the value of public (developable) land can be converted into capital, to fund infrastructure provision. Policy development, in the wider sense, wraps the whole thing together. It includes: Policy development. Budget development. Integration of policy and budget planning. The integrated development strategy reects a series of strategic and operational policy decisions. In essence, the strategic centres on urban development, including new service provision. The operational focuses on routine expenditure for (a) the operation and maintenance of infrastructure and (b) the provision basic services, such as education. Policy development, expressed through the integrated development strategy, must be budgeted. The budget should be output-based. This means it should identify the infrastructure and services to be provided for the following year (within the strategic framework the integrated development strategy) and to propose the deployment of funds to achieve these performance targets, in the sense of

achieving the outputs according to the budget. The wider assessment of the cumulative impact of achieving the targets, happens, say, every third year, when a strategic review (as opposed to a mere annual update) of the integrated development strategy takes place. This is the essence of performance budgeting (McGill, 2001).

yet no less legitimate concerns such as urban governance; a current theme in UN Habitats Urban Management Programme.

McGill, R (1993) Institution building for a Third World city council: some lessons from the practice. International Journal of Public Sector Management 6(5), 24 33. McGill, R (1994a) Institutional development and the notion of sustainability. International Journal of Public Sector Management 7(6), 2640. McGill, R (1994b) Integrated urban management: an operational model for Third World city managers. Cities: International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning 11(1), 3547. McGill, R (1995a) Urban management performance: an assessment framework for Third World city managers. Cities: International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning 12(5), 337351. McGill, R (1995b) Institutional development: a review of the concept. International Journal of Public Sector Management 8(2), 6379. McGill, R (1996) Institutional Development: A Third World City Management Perspective. Macmillan, Basingstoke, St Martins Press, New York. McGill, R (1998) Urban management in developing countries. Cities: International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning 15(6), 463471. McGill, R. (2001) Performance budgeting. International Journal of Public Sector Management (forthcoming)

This paper has attempted to outline an Urban Management Checklist to guide city management practitioners. It does so by describing the components of an Integrated Development Strategy. The strategy is seen in two parts. The rst (the main text) concerns urban development. This is in terms of an arterial infrastructure framework and site-specic considerations. The second (the supporting technical appendices) looks at institutional development. This focuses on the institutional tests of urban management and the specic interventions required for building city council capacity to perform. This text is therefore concerned with the instruments for making urban management work. This is the rst and at times, already insurmountable task to achieve in developing countries. It is thought that only with such instruments in place, can one move on to subtler