State of Governance Bangladesh 2014–2015: Institutions, Outcomes, and Accountability

Governance performance, given that the performance indicators are not readily quantifiable, is typically difficult to measure. Nevertheless, in our eighth annual flagship report of its kind, the “State of Governance Bangladesh 2014–2015: Institutions, Outcomes, and Accountability,” we constructed quantitative indicators supplemented by qualitative assessments to measure governance performance of Bangladesh in three broad sectors—political, economic, and social. This pioneering study was the first attempt in Bangladesh to investigate governance performance using quantitative indicators across multiple sectors. Study findings suggest that despite progress in several indicators of governance performance, there remain key vulnerabilities and challenges that need to be addressed by public policy in the future.

Researchers: Kazi Niaz Ahmed; Syeda Salina Aziz; Sadiat Mannan; Muhammad Ashikur Rahman; Sultan Hafeez Rahman; Md. Harun-Or-Rashid; Kaneta Zillur

Partners: International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

Timeline: 2014–2015

Status: Completed

Contact: Dr Sultan Hafeez Rahman;


Performance assessment of any kind requires a measurable indicator, either qualitative or quantitative. When it comes to governance performance, such an indicator can be hard to find. Even when a measurable indicator is found, the data required to measure governance performance are either unavailable or difficult to obtain, especially for a developing country like Bangladesh. Yet, such measures would greatly enhance the quality of the research on governance and create spaces for meaningful public debates. Simultaneously, it would help the government to frame more informed policies relating to governance, as well as to respond more forcefully to local and international expressions of concern on specific governance issues. Instead of waiting for the “perfect state” where relevant and high-quality data would be available in large sample sizes, it is a better idea to develop quantitative performance indicators by applying simple techniques.


The prime objective of our study was to see if governance can be measured quantitatively. Subsequently, we aimed to measure the quality of governance through an objective approach using public data.

This study is relevant to SDG 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions), particularly to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.


This study is mainly based on secondary time series data, complemented by case studies and focused group interviews with relevant specialists. Using 2004 as the base year, the time series data ranges over a period of five to ten years, depending on data availability for the respective indicators.

Findings and Recommendations

Our findings reveal a mixed picture. There are concerns about the persistence of some known and worrisome trends in specific areas and emerging new issues, but there are also some modest to significant achievements in other areas. From the political spectrum, as far as legislative productivity is concerned, findings show that the functioning of the parliament continues to suffer from the malaise of confrontational politics. Moreover, the absence of a more robust set of democratic institutions set by the electoral process is a serious challenge to the liberal democratic culture of Bangladesh. There is also a lack of human and logistic resources and instituting mechanisms in the judiciary system of Bangladesh that are vital for speedy disposal of cases. We have also found that though there has been considerable development in regard to freedom of media, various impediments and professional hazards experienced by journalists are still a matter of concern. Meanwhile, the performance of the financial institutions in Bangladesh is mixed. On one hand, Bangladesh did not face any major crisis during the period of our investigation. On the other, the relatively poor performance of the state-owned banks (SCBs) remains an area of concern. It was evident from our study that Bangladesh’s economic infrastructure is well articulated in the country’s economic priorities, plans, and programs. However, there are spaces for improvements in terms of coverage, quantity, and quality. In the areas of social governance, we examined two vital sectors: education and healthcare. Though Bangladesh has seemingly achieved significant success in both of these two sectors, the quality of education and healthcare are questionable.

Apparently, Bangladesh’s performance in all the three broad categories—political, economic, and social—while being mixed indicates major vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities must be addressed through the broader participation of civil society and other stakeholders. Without such an inclusive approach and full freedoms and rights guaranteed under the constitution, the country may suffer serious setbacks in its march towards building strong democratic institutions as the fundamental basis for good governance.