Mexico

   

Executive Capacity

#30
Key Findings
Despite its strong presidential system, Mexico scores relatively poorly (rank 30) in the area of executive capacity. Its score has fallen by 1.0 points relative to its 2014 level.

Planning has seen a resurgence in popularity, but the outgoing president’s “lame duck” status severely limited progress during the review period. Incoming President López Obrador is repealing several of his predecessor’s reforms. Structurally, the presidential office is dominant, while the Finance and Interior ministries hold considerable power

RIAs are common and of generally high quality, with the agency responsible recently receiving a broader mandate. Ex post evaluations are common. The outgoing president was a poor or even sometimes disastrous public communicator. López Obrador is expected to communicate more effectively, with greater public consultation.

Implementation efficiency is undermined by financial shortcomings, local organizational weaknesses and high crime levels. Monitoring of the police and military has been ineffective. Insufficient funding, corruption and inefficiency inhibit regulation enforcement and the development of national standards. An online platform tracks progress toward achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Strategic Capacity

#15

How much influence do strategic planning units and bodies have on government decision-making?

10
 9

Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions, and they exercise strong influence on government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Their influence on government decision-making is systematic but limited in issue scope or depth of impact.
 5
 4
 3


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Occasionally, they exert some influence on government decision-making.
 2
 1

In practice, there are no units and bodies taking a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions.
Strategic Planning
7
The Mexican president is required by law to produce a strategic plan in his first year in office. At a lower level, there are quite a few planning units within the Mexican government, though they do not all have decisive input in the policymaking process. Longer-term, Mexico has committed itself to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and created a specialized technical committee involving 25 federal agencies, which will collect the statistical information required to monitor progress.
Strategic planning was most prominent in the 1960s, 70s and 80s; in the latter decade no fewer than three former planning ministers moved up to the presidency of Mexico. In more general terms, a “passion for planning” stems from the origins of the Institutional Revolutionary Party regime and its corporatist structures within a mixed economy. Mainly as a consequence of market-oriented reforms, the role of planning entities has declined since the late 1980s. This was partly the result of Mexico becoming an export-oriented economy, but also because planning itself was a failure during this period, with Mexico too bound to international economic trends to successfully implement planning decisions.
Planning has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years. The major challenge to planning in Mexico, and Latin America more generally, consists in creating sufficiently tight links between the agencies responsible for planning, the implementing agencies and powerful interest groups. The implementation of several highly significant recent reforms have put Mexico’s planning skills to the test. This includes the implementation of anti-corruption laws and reforms in the social sector, education reform as well as in energy and telecommunications.
The current Mexican president has faced historically low approval ratings in the final year of his term. Combined with the challenge of the incoming presidency, this has made the president a “lame duck.” Additionally, the incoming president has announced that he will repeal several reforms, such as the education reform. This will limit the chance of successfully implementing strategic plans at the beginning of the new president’s term. It remains to be seen, however, to what extent the new government will be able to plan and implement a coherent sustainability strategy with strong priorities.

Does the government regularly take into account advice from non-governmental experts during decision-making?

10
 9

In almost all cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


For major political projects, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 2
 1

The government does not consult with non-governmental experts, or existing consultations lack transparency entirely and/or are exclusively pro forma.
Expert Advice
6
In the Mexican political system, barriers between the government and scholars are comparatively low. It is quite common for a cabinet to include recruits from academia, and there are also substantial informal contacts between academics and high-level public officials. By the same token, former government officials often teach at universities. The Mexican government is keen to strengthen relationships with technical experts, including economists and international relations professionals, particularly those who hold higher qualifications from outside Mexico and have worked for international organizations or U.S. think tanks. Furthermore, the government receives policy advice from international organizations, such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. Moreover, applied research has played an increasing role throughout the last two decades in the scientifically grounded evaluation of social programs.

However, the procedures by which academic advice is sought are often not formalized, a fact that leads not only to a frequent lack of transparency on relations between academia and politics, but also to policy advice being often obtained on an ad hoc basis. Regarding the role of intellectuals in society, in general, they are held in high esteem.

Despite pressure from civil society on a number of issues, such as corruption, impunity and insecurity, consultations with civil society actors often fail to achieve concrete results. A lack of political will, rather than a lack of discussion or input from societal actors, has often stalled progress.
While the Peña Nieto administration initially adopted a clear reform-oriented strategy and included policy experts on various levels, this verve has completely faded away. Additionally, the president ’s commitment to transparency is limited.

Interministerial Coordination

#24

Does the government office / prime minister’s office (GO / PMO) have the expertise to evaluate ministerial draft bills according to the government’s priorities?

10
 9

The GO / PMO provides regular, independent evaluations of draft bills for the cabinet / prime minister. These assessments are guided exclusively by the government’s priorities.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO evaluates most draft bills according to the government’s priorities.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO can rely on some sectoral policy expertise but does not evaluate draft bills.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not have any sectoral policy expertise. Its role is limited to collecting, registering and circulating documents submitted for cabinet meetings.
GO Expertise
8
The presidential office offers positions of high prestige in Mexico. It is involved with the legislative process to a decisive degree. Due to the absence of a high-level career civil service, both the cabinet and the presidential office are staffed with presidential appointments. The independence of figures within the executive is thus questionable since everyone of influence in the presidential office is a political appointee. It is relevant to note that the majority of legislative proposals introduced by the executive failed in post-1997 Mexico – a successful proposal submitted as part the “Pact for Mexico” during the early years of the Peña Nieto administration notwithstanding. Political roadblocks rather than any lack of policy expertise are responsible for these problems.

To what extent do line ministries involve the government office/prime minister’s office in the preparation of policy proposals?

10
 9

There are inter-related capacities for coordination between GO/PMO and line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO/PMO is regularly briefed on new developments affecting the preparation of policy proposals.
 5
 4
 3


Consultation is rather formal and focuses on technical and drafting issues.
 2
 1

Consultation occurs only after proposals are fully drafted as laws.
Line Ministries
7
Given Mexico’s presidential system, cabinet ministers are respectful of and even deferential to the presidential office. Moreover, cabinet ministers dismissed by the president after disagreements rarely find a way back into high-level politics, which promotes loyalty to the president and presidential staff. Accordingly, senior figures in the presidential office are very powerful, because they determine access to the president and can influence ministerial careers. President Peña Nieto has built his cabinet around two super-ministries and ministers, the finance minister and the minister of interior, and good personal relations with the president are important for cabinet members.

How effectively do ministerial or cabinet committees coordinate cabinet proposals?

10
 9

The vast majority of cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated first by committees.
 8
 7
 6


Most cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated by committees, in particular proposals of political or strategic importance.
 5
 4
 3


There is little review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees.
 2
 1

There is no review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees. Or: There is no ministerial or cabinet committee.
Cabinet Committees
7
Mexico is unusual, because the constitution does not recognize the cabinet as a collective body. Instead, Mexico has four sub cabinets, respectively dealing with economic, social, political and security matters. As a result, Mexico in practice has a system of cabinet committees each of them normally chaired by the president. The full cabinet never or hardly ever meets. Mexico’s cabinet, as a collective, matters less than in most countries. The cabinet is not a supreme executive body as it is in, say, Britain. For one thing, there are a number of heads of executive agencies, with cabinet rank, who are not directly subject to a minister. There is a trend of governments to increase this process, partially out of the logic of depoliticizing and cementing programmatic decisions and views in social and economic policy fields. Under the current administration, cabinet reshuffles have frequently taken place, often in response to unpopular policy outcomes or political pressure. The central political figure has been and is the president.

How effectively do ministry officials/civil servants coordinate policy proposals?

10
 9

Most policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 8
 7
 6


Many policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 5
 4
 3


There is some coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
 2
 1

There is no or hardly any coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
Ministerial Bureaucracy
5
Traditionally, there was little real distinction in Mexico between civil servants and politicians, though the relationship between them has significantly varied over time. The upper administration overly consists of presidential appointments, with only a limited number of career bureaucrats. Two exceptions are the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where bureaucratic expertise has always played a major role. The reason for this is the importance of being a competent actor in multilateral arenas given the dominance of the United States and the experience of macroeconomic turmoil due to continuous political interference in economics. Traditionally, the political system has been weighed toward presidential appointments. The cabinet today is much more heterogeneous, however, with some figures personally close to the president and others more independent. The politicization of the cabinet, which has increased under the three recent administrations, is constraining its ability to coordinate policy proposals given the centrifugal tendencies. On the other hand, the previously mentioned independent agencies are often characterized by higher levels of bureaucratic professionalism. Moreover, socioeconomic modernization has, albeit slowly, changed the administrative landscape, with technical expertise increasing in many sectors (e.g., social sectors) and the number of policy experts with an administrative background increasing in the upper administration; It is too soon to say, whether this trend will continue during the current administration of AMLO.

How effectively do informal coordination mechanisms complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination?

10
 9

Informal coordination mechanisms generally support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


In most cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

Informal coordination mechanisms tend to undermine rather than complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
Informal Coordination
5
A number of informal mechanisms for coordinating policy exist, and given the lack of “formal” coordination capabilities within the Mexican administration, informal coordination often functions as a substitute. This is normal in a presidential system where only a few cabinet secretaries have independent political bases. Ministers retain their positions, for the most part, at the will of the president. It is important to note, however, that some cabinet secretaries are more equal than others. The Finance Ministry, and Ministry of the Interior and Police have assumed hegemonic roles under President Peña Nieto. The finance secretary, José Antonio Meade, resigned in November 2017 to run for the presidency as candidate of the incumbent PRI, but lost. Moreover, toward the end of a presidential term, the congruence of formal and informal coordination mechanisms tends to diminish, as has been the case in 2018.

How extensively and effectively are digital technologies used to support interministerial coordination (in policy development and monitoring)?

10
 9

The government uses digital technologies extensively and effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


The government uses digital technologies in most cases and somewhat effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


The government uses digital technologies to a lesser degree and with limited effects to support interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

The government makes no substantial use of digital technologies to support interministerial coordination.
Digitalization for Interministerial C.
6
The Mexican government has adopted a National Digital Strategy and established a Change Management Plan in order to guide agencies in the development of projects. In July 2018, Mexico launched an online platform to track progress toward achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, as often in Mexico, implementation of digitalization is falling behind schedule, especially on the subnational level. This reflects the heterogeneity of digitalization within the broader Mexican society.

Citations:
SDG 2018. Mexico’s SDG Portal Brings Functionality to Reporting. http://sdg.iisd.org/news/mexicos-sdg-portal-brings-functionality-to-reporting/

Evidence-based Instruments

#11

To what extent does the government assess the potential impacts of existing and prepared legal acts (regulatory impact assessments, RIA)?

10
 9

RIA are applied to all new regulations and to existing regulations which are characterized by complex impact paths. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 8
 7
 6


RIA are applied systematically to most new regulations. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 5
 4
 3


RIA are applied in some cases. There is no common RIA methodology guaranteeing common minimum standards.
 2
 1

RIA are not applied or do not exist.
RIA Application
8
Regulatory impact assessment (RIA) was introduced in Mexico in 1997. In 2000, RIA was implemented broadly through reform of the Federal Administrative Procedure Law. Thus, RIA in Mexico is established by law, and not by presidential or prime ministerial degree as in some other OECD countries.
In May 2018, the new General Law of Better Regulation was issued. A government agency, the Federal Commission for Regulatory Improvement (Comisión Federal de Mejora Regulatoria, COFEMER), is responsible for performing impact assessments on new proposals if they generate compliance costs. With the new law, COFEMER’s mandate was broadened and the agency renamed the Comisión Nacional de Mejora Regulatoria (CONAMER). CONAMER assesses existing regulations. The law requires Mexico’s 32 states to adopt RIAs for subnational regulatory projects and there are efforts to expand this further. Overall, RIA could be strengthened by involving stakeholders early on in the process.

Beyond RIA, evidence-based evaluations of several Mexican public policies in the social sector have gained international recognition and have had significant spillover effects to the international evaluation community. This is especially true for social policies, where rigorous impact assessments based on experimental and quasi-experimental analyses of education, health, and nutrition programs (Programa de Educación, Salud y Alimentación, PROGRESA) can be perceived as an international showcase on how to evaluate large-scale social programs. In this area, the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (CONEVAL) is responsible for carrying out rigorous impact evaluations in large social-sector programs. CONEVAL is an autonomous and independent agency created by the 2007 General Law on Social Development (Ley General de Desarrollo Social).

Citations:
Reyes, R et al (2015). Regulatory Impact Assessment in Mexico: A Story of Interest Groups Pressure. Law and Development Review 8, 1: 99-122.

Does the RIA process ensure participation, transparency and quality evaluation?

10
 9

RIA analyses consistently involve stakeholders by means of consultation or collaboration, results are transparently communicated to the public and assessments are effectively evaluated by an independent body on a regular basis.
 8
 7
 6


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to one of the three objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to two of the three objectives.
 2
 1

RIA analyses do not exist or the RIA process fails to achieve any of the three objectives of process quality.
Quality of RIA Process
7
RIA was introduced in Mexico in 1997 and its usage has spread from the federal government to some state governments. It has established itself as a legitimate part of the policymaking process. The relevant government agency, CONAMER (and its predecessor, COFEMER), is responsible to an interdepartmental committee that ultimately reports to the Ministry of Economy. CONAMER does not have a veto on new proposals, but it must be consulted and can express an opinion. Its position vis-à-vis the ministries was strengthened by the new law on regulation in 2018. It can prevent new regulations from coming into force until the consultation process is complete. CONAMER has also been active in negotiating the streamlining of procedures with individual Mexican states. This is significant, as much regulation is generated at subnational levels. After a quiet start, COFEMER/CONAMER has played a significant role in Mexico’s pro-competitive policy. Its annual reports are publicly available and provide critical assessments on regulatory projects.

Does the government conduct effective sustainability checks within the framework of RIA?

10
 9

Sustainability checks are an integral part of every RIA; they draw on an exhaustive set of indicators (including social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability) and track impacts from the short- to long-term.
 8
 7
 6


Sustainability checks lack one of the three criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Sustainability checks lack two of the three criteria.
 2
 1

Sustainability checks do not exist or lack all three criteria.
Sustainability Check
6
So far, RIAs have often highlighted international benchmarking to reinforce their investigations. As one example, in a recent development, the Mexican government signaled its intention to become a world leader in sustainable tourism. Here, sustainability relates to energy efficiency, improved environmental performance and the protection of cultural heritage. The government partnered with the private firm EC3 Global to support the adoption of their trademark EarthCheck science and solutions for tourism operators and companies committed to sustainable practices and to align their performance with global benchmarks, endorsed by the World Tourism Organization. EarthCheck is an internationally recognized environmental management and certification program with more than 1,300 members in 70 countries. The program improves the operational performance of member organizations and reduces costs. However, like in most other OECD countries, RIAs in Mexico have up to now not fully embraced a multidimensional sustainability perspective as is foreseen by the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. This is a particular challenge against the backdrop of the United Nation’s Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals), which were supported by Mexico and require a multidimensional perspective – including social, economic and ecological dimensions – in public policymaking. However, Mexican government elites appear much more likely to be aware of the SDGs than government elites in other OECD countries, which might lead to an improvement in the coming years.

To what extent do government ministries regularly evaluate the effectiveness and/or efficiency of public policies and use results of evaluations for the revision of existing policies or development of new policies?

10
 9

Ex post evaluations are carried out for all significant policies and are generally used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 8
 7
 6


Ex post evaluations are carried out for most significant policies and are used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 5
 4
 3


Ex post evaluations are rarely carried out for significant policies and are rarely used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 2
 1

Ex post evaluations are generally not carried out and do not play any relevant role for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
Quality of Ex Post Evaluation
7
Overall, Mexican policies are supposed to subjected to ex post evaluation and, at least at the national level, a comparatively strong culture of ex post evaluation has grown over the last two decades. This phenomenon is rooted in two different ideological streams. On the one hand, the traditional planning euphoria from a left-leaning, corporatist system has embraced the idea of ex post evaluation as an integral part of a well-mastered policy cycle. On the other hand, market liberal reforms and the influence of international finance organizations have introduced forms of new public management, with rigorous ex post evaluation seen as a crucial way to guarantee the efficiency and effectiveness of public policies.

Since 2012, mandatory guidelines require the use of ex post evaluations. As a consequence, Mexico has established one of the most developed evaluation policies in the field of social policy, which is executed by a constitutionally anchored evaluation agency, Coneval (National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy). Created in 2014, Coneval is established as an autonomous constitutional organization with a very high level of technical and management autonomy. Its task is to coordinate and manage the ex post evaluation of national social policies, and it does so with a very high level of sophistication. It is consists of the head of the Ministry of Social Development, six well-known academics chosen by the National Social Development Commission and an Executive Secretary who is in charge of the council. In the international realm, CONEVAL has been an institutional innovation in poverty measurement and the evaluation of social public policies. So far, the independent provision of scientifically based evaluations has had a substantial impact on technically improving social policy programs in Mexico.

Coneval represents a substantial move forward in the evaluation of social policies. However, other policy fields are subjected to far less scientific ex post evaluations and, at the subnational level, much more remains to be done. However, the ongoing presence of many organizations of international development cooperation in Mexico is favorable for an evaluation friendly environment.

Societal Consultation

#28

Does the government consult with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner?

10
 9

The government always consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 8
 7
 6


The government in most cases consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 5
 4
 3


The government does consult with societal actors, but mostly in an unfair and clientelistic manner.
 2
 1

The government rarely consults with any societal actors.
Public Consultation
5
While originally perceived as a great communicator, President Peña Nieto’s approval rating were constantly below 20% during his last year in office. The security crisis, violence, high-level corruption scandals and the societal crisis after the disappearance of 43 students in Guerrero have underlined the public’s discontent. In this critical situation, the government has taken a more hierarchical position regarding consultation with societal actors than its predecessors. The president’s approach tends to be to negotiate at the highest level of politics (i.e., with party leaders) and with union leaders (i.e., the very controversial education reform) and to rely on those involved to employ sufficient weight to enable reforms and other policy decisions to proceed. Thus, he undertakes intensive consultations with the leaders of Mexico’s political parties and unions, but social actors and NGOs are less involved. This is in line with the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s tradition of corporatism and clientelism, where participation has flowed mainly through corporatist and clientelist party channels rather than through independent civil society organizations. In late October 2018, one month before taking office, President-elect Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador stated that the fate of a controversial new airport in the country’s capital will be decided by voters in a popular consultation.
Some participatory involvement occurs at the local and state level, in the form of experiments with participatory budgeting, roundtables with stakeholder consultation and so on. While these types of consultation processes are not as strong as in other Latin American countries, they have become more common in Mexico.

Citations:
USA Today (2018). Mexico’s unpopular president to leave behind troubled administration mired in scandal, controversy, Sep 12, 2018. https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/09/12/mexican-president-enrique-pena-nieto-defends-unpopular-administration/1265941002/

Policy Communication

#25

To what extent does the government achieve coherent communication?

10
 9

Ministries are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 8
 7
 6


Ministries most of the time are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 5
 4
 3


Ministries occasionally issue public statements that contradict the public communication of other ministries or the government strategy.
 2
 1

Strategic communication planning does not exist; individual ministry statements regularly contradict each other. Messages are often not factually consistent with the government’s strategy.
Coherent Communication
5
Communication performances under recent administrations have been mixed. Former President Fox had remarkable public-relations talent, but not much grasp of policy detail. Under former President Calderón, there was marked enhancement in the general quality of official communication, but Calderón had less feel for the news media. Even though outgoing President Peña Nieto was an effective campaigner, his administration generally failed to communicate the importance and implications of its far-reaching reform projects to the public, resulting in eroding public support and low approval ratings. For example, the government’s statements regarding the disappearance of 43 Ayotzinapa teaching college students was a disaster. It is expected that the communication skills of the new AMLO administration will improve.

Citations:
USA Today (2018). Mexico’s unpopular president to leave behind troubled administration mired in scandal, controversy, Sep 12, 2018. https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/09/12/mexican-president-enrique-pena-nieto-defends-unpopular-administration/1265941002/

Implementation

#36

To what extent can the government achieve its own policy objectives?

10
 9

The government can largely implement its own policy objectives.
 8
 7
 6


The government is partly successful in implementing its policy objectives or can implement some of its policy objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The government partly fails to implement its objectives or fails to implement several policy objectives.
 2
 1

The government largely fails to implement its policy objectives.
Government Effectiveness
3
The government’s ability to implement policy is geographically and functionally uneven. While there are an increasing number of islands of technical expertise and competence, overall policy implementation is still severely hampered by several factors. The most significant of these have been the following four challenges: (a) the state’s lack of financial resources due to insufficient taxation capacity, (b) the organizational weakness of subnational governments and the decentralized agencies overseen by federal ministries, (c) high levels of corruption, crime and impunity, and (d) the ineffective rule of law.

The central government has been able to find the necessary financial resources for prestige projects and highly visible policy priorities. Overall, however, the state remains unable to provide basic public goods, including education, public health and security, across the territory. Mexico is a federal country, and the quality of governance by state and municipal governments varies enormously. Some municipalities are professionally organized, but others lack basic capacities to provide those public goods that fall within their local responsibility.
While the president initially embarked on several major ambitious reform projects, all of these initiatives remain underfunded and most have stalled during the implementation phase. Confronted by the new government of the incoming President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and with historically low approval ratings, President Nieto has become a “lame duck.”

Citations:
USA Today (2018). Mexico’s unpopular president to leave behind troubled administration mired in scandal, controversy, Sep 12, 2018. https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/09/12/mexican-president-enrique-pena-nieto-defends-unpopular-administration/1265941002/

To what extent does the organization of government provide mechanisms to ensure that ministers implement the government’s program?

10
 9

The organization of government successfully provides strong mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 8
 7
 6


The organization of government provides some mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 5
 4
 3


The organization of government provides weak mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 2
 1

The organization of government does not provide any mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
Ministerial Compliance
7
Whatever problems there may be with the Mexican system, it does deal effectively with the so-called agency problem, except during the end of the presidential term, when the lame duck phenomenon occurs. In contrast, at least during the first two-thirds of a presidential administration, cabinet secretaries mostly have a strong incentive to avoid incurring presidential displeasure. This is less true at the very end of the presidential term, when the cabinet becomes more politicized and some political figures may jump ship to serve the new administration. Usually the government acts as a lame duck during its last months in office, and not much is expected of it. This is exactly what has happened in 2018, especially after the dramatic loss of PRI and the governmental takeover of MORENA on 1 December 2018.

How effectively does the government office/prime minister’s office monitor line ministry activities with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The GO / PMO effectively monitors the implementation activities of all line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of most line ministries.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of some line ministries.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not monitor the implementation activities of line ministries.
Monitoring Ministries
7
The presidential office can choose who it monitors and how. There are two caveats to this statement, however. First, Mexico is a federal system, and there are thus strong limits to the central government’s power as many competencies fall, at least partially, to the states or even the local level. Second, independent agencies headed by individuals of cabinet rank have taken on an expanding role during the last two decades. Yet where the central authority has power, it uses it. Ministerial turnover is in general relatively high for a presidential system and President Peña Nieto has reshuffled his cabinet several times. However, while sanctioning ministers is a sign of the president’s power, it does not necessarily reflect the output of a systematic monitoring process. In many instances, inadequate implementation is due to structural problems of capacity or a lack of political will, rather than insufficient monitoring. Personnel changes at the attorney general’s office (PGR) and the public function secretariat (SFP) in the context of continuing revelations about the administration’s inadequate response to corruption are cases in point. Replacing high-profile officials, without addressing underlying structural problems, is often a quick attempt to demonstrate political capacity, it is unlikely to produce better results.

Citations:
USA Today (2018). Mexico’s unpopular president to leave behind troubled administration mired in scandal, controversy, Sep 12, 2018. https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/09/12/mexican-president-enrique-pena-nieto-defends-unpopular-administration/1265941002/

How effectively do federal and subnational ministries monitor the activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The ministries effectively monitor the implementation activities of all bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 8
 7
 6


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of most bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 5
 4
 3


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of some bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 2
 1

The ministries do not monitor the implementation activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies.
Monitoring Agencies|Bureaucracies
5
The process of monitoring tends to work better at the national level than at the subnational level, where the general process of accountability is more heterogeneously developed. Monitoring is considerable at particular times and places, but limited otherwise. Moreover, monitoring is selective due to uneven state capacity, which hampers greater coverage. Essentially, the commitment to monitoring depends on political constellations. Ministries can scrutinize bureaucratic agencies if they want to, but there are good reasons why they do not always do so. Decentralized agencies often try to exercise autonomy by going over the top of the governing secretariat and contacting the president directly. Pemex, the state-owned petroleum company, is notorious for such attempts, although it does not always succeed. In addition, ministers or the cabinet have mostly been unable to effectively monitor the military and the police, and attempts to increase oversight – especially with regard to human rights violations – has been politically difficult in the context of an ongoing security crisis. This has not changed during the last year of the outgoing president and will be one of the biggest coordination challenges for AMLO.

To what extent does the central government ensure that tasks delegated to subnational self-governments are adequately funded?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to fulfill all their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 8
 7
 6


The central government enables subnational governments to fulfill most of their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 5
 4
 3


The central government sometimes and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational governments.
 2
 1

The central government often and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational self-governments.
Task Funding
5
Mexico has three levels of government – central, state and municipal. In Mexican federalism, state governments are politically and economically more powerful than municipalities. The state governors’ association is a powerful lobby group that bargains effectively with the central government. In general terms, Mexico’s intergovernmental transfer system must reduce vertical imbalances and discretionary federal transfers. The latter are distributed from the center across states with political, rather than policy goals in mind and constitute a substantial share of government spending. Moreover, Mexican states need to increase their own revenues in order to become less dependent on central government transfers.

Due to government austerity, underfunded mandates and insufficient resources are a challenge for the successful completion of many government tasks and undermine the realization of the principle of subsidiarity in Mexico’s fiscal federalism.

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments may use their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to make full use of their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 8
 7
 6


Central government policies inadvertently limit the subnational self-governments’ scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 5
 4
 3


The central government formally respects the constitutional autonomy of subnational self-governments, but de facto narrows their scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 2
 1

The central government deliberately precludes subnational self-governments from making use of their constitutionally provided implementation autonomy.
Constitutional Discretion
6
The Mexican constitution gives subnational entities, in particular states, considerable opportunity to influence policy. However, fiscal federalism in Mexico still relies heavily on transfers and thus gives the central government considerable leverage over states. The economic heterogeneity of states is so substantial that there is a need for a solidarity-oriented transfer system. In other words, fiscal federalism in Mexico cannot rely on the principle of market-based federalism with its focus on competition among subnational entities.

The current system is not in equilibrium between solidarity and market-based federalism. The federal government formally has substantial leverage over states, the federal government has generally refrained from reining in the illiberal practices of local elites. Considerable administrative capacity deficits and illiberal political practices therefore persist at the subnational level, while at the same time these illiberal practices vary strongly between regions and subnational entities. Thus, while political processes in several states fall short of democratic practices, in other states the situation is much better. The complicity of the federal government is illustrated by its failure to intervene even in cases where governors systematically embezzled funds to the point of financially ruining their states, such as Veracruz. In the case of Mexico, federalism is therefore undermined not only by an overbearing center but also by a lack of accountability and oversight of subnational officials.

Citations:
Diaz-Cayeros, Alberto, Fiscal Federalism and Redistribution in Mexico (December 16, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2886703

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services?

10
 9

Central government effectively ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 8
 7
 6


Central government largely ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 5
 4
 3


Central government ensures that subnational self-governments realize national minimum standards of public services.
 2
 1

Central government does not ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
National Standards
2
Insufficient funding, corruption and inefficiency inhibit the effective implementation of nationwide public policy standards in many sectors. Currently, this is playing out particularly visibly in the education sector, where not a single government entity seems to know how many teachers there are in the public schools, let alone how effectively they teach. Part of a recent education reform requires the statistical agency INEGI to conduct a census of the education sector. The discrepancy in the number of teachers in official data provided by the Ministry of Education and those encountered by census-takers when they visited schools is significant. In several states, INEGI’s work was disrupted by unions, especially the CNTE, which sought to prevent census-takers from entering schools. Overall, the education reform has increased pressure for accountability and transparency but the country still has a long way to go before all schools and teachers meet national standards. So far, even trying to collect the data that would enable the monitoring of standards has been challenging. While education reform has focused mostly on schools, higher education also suffers from a lack of uniformity and insufficient monitoring of standards.

Citations:
Latin American Regional Report: Mexico & Nafta (November 2017) “Solving higher education conundrum key to 2018 election success?.”

To what extent is government enforcing regulations in an effective and unbiased way, also against vested interests?

10
 9

Government agencies enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 8
 7
 6


Government agencies, for the most part, enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 5
 4
 3


Government agencies enforce regulations, but ineffectively and with bias.
 2
 1

Government agencies enforce regulations ineffectively, inconsistently and with bias.
Regulatory Enforcement
4
Insufficient funding, corruption and inefficiency inhibit effective regulation in many sectors. Additionally, fragmented responsibilities due to deficiencies in the federal Mexican system are prevalent. Vested interests often manage to block reforms or policy implementation. While this is a cross-sector phenomenon, it has been particularly visible in the education sector, where an ambitious reform was initiated by President Peña Nieto, but protests by and resistance from teachers and unions prevented the reforms implementation. The new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has announced that he will end the educational reform process.

Adaptability

#25

To what extent does the government respond to international and supranational developments by adapting domestic government structures?

10
 9

The government has appropriately and effectively adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 8
 7
 6


In many cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 2
 1

The government has not adapted domestic government structures, no matter how beneficial adaptation might be.
Domestic Adaptability
6
The Mexican governing elite have traditionally been very interested in adopting international standards and had a high degree of contact with international organizations and policy institutes. The major motivation for this is that multilateralism has always provided a strategic avenue for counterbalancing the country’s dependence on its northern neighbor. Moreover, many members of the policy elite have studied and/or worked abroad, mostly in English-speaking countries and sometimes in those international organizations that promote international norms. Mexico’s presidential system, with its directing authority at the center of the administration, also allows the country to make swift changes. However, while adaptability of the Mexican government is comparatively high in formal terms, implementation of new approaches and policies is much weaker, particularly when it involves subnational entities, heavily unionized sectors or counters economic interests in society. In this regard, one of the most challenging tasks for the Mexican government is currently to transfer the ambitious U.N. Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) agenda into domestic policies, adapting them to national priorities. While formulating action plans and monitoring strategies at the national level faces little or no capacity barriers, the implementation and mainstreaming of policies at the local and regional level will be the major challenge. In addition, while Mexico has signaled commitment to human rights in international arenas, within the country the protection of human rights and respect for the rule of law remain low.

To what extent is the government able to collaborate effectively with international efforts to foster global public goods?

10
 9

The government can take a leading role in shaping and implementing collective efforts to provide global public goods. It is able to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
 8
 7
 6


The government is largely able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Existing processes enabling the government to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress are, for the most part, effective.
 5
 4
 3


The government is partially able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Processes designed to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress show deficiencies.
 2
 1

The government does not have sufficient institutional capacities to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. It does not have effective processes to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
International Coordination
5
The Mexican government is increasingly confident of its role in the broader world. Mexico has traditionally been supportive of international initiatives, in the hope of reducing the bilateralism imposed by Mexico’s close and asymmetrical relationship with the United States. Mexico continues to play an active role in the United Nations, OECD and other intergovernmental organizations. It also remains an enthusiastic participant in multilateral organizations, including international financial organizations such as the World Bank, the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Development Bank. Numerous policy and organizational recommendations made by international bodies have been adopted in the Mexican policymaking process. Thus, it has a supportive role in many international attempts oriented toward the provision of global public goods. Whether this engagement in international affairs is sufficient to shape international efforts is questionable given the country’s reduced level of international leverage in economic and security affairs. However, within its capacities, Mexico has contributed to strengthening multilateralism.

Organizational Reform

#22

To what extent do actors within the government monitor whether institutional arrangements of governing are appropriate?

10
 9

The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly and effectively.
 8
 7
 6


The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly.
 5
 4
 3


The institutional arrangements of governing are selectively and sporadically monitored.
 2
 1

There is no monitoring.
Self-monitoring
6
Historically, Mexico has often found ways of dealing with the so-called agency problem in policy implementation, which explains why institutional arrangements need constant monitoring. Traditionally this agency problem was dealt with by a high degree of corporatist authoritarianism, which came at a high cost for controlling agents. In today’s Mexico, democracy – even if sometimes insufficiently implemented – requires new models of overcoming this agency problem in an increasingly diversified and complex state structure. Particularly policymakers at the central level and in the more advanced states are becoming aware that effectively governing complexity requires different principles, including monitoring institutional governance arrangements. In July 2018, Mexico launched an online platform to track progress toward achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Yet, especially at the subnational level, pockets of authoritarianism, weak state capacity and widespread corruption result in uneven capacity for monitoring institutional arrangements and regulatory reforms. At the top of the political pyramid, the quality of self-monitoring still depends much on the personal engagement of the president. Mexican policymakers have tended to engage quite frequently in administrative reorganization, possibly to excess. President Peña Nieto has been an ambitious, and perhaps excessive, but largely unsuccessful reformer.

Citations:
SDG 2018. Mexico’s SDG Portal Brings Functionality to Reporting. http://sdg.iisd.org/news/mexicos-sdg-portal-brings-functionality-to-reporting/

To what extent does the government improve its strategic capacity by changing the institutional arrangements of governing?

10
 9

The government improves its strategic capacity considerably by changing its institutional arrangements.
 8
 7
 6


The government improves its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 5
 4
 3


The government does not improve its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 2
 1

The government loses strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
Institutional Reform
5
While Mexican policy elites are often receptive to new ideas and open to administrative reform, many of these reforms remain unimplemented and are abandoned before they can take root. This is especially true with regard to domestic security and law enforcement. Too often, the re-drawing of organizational diagrams has taken precedence over the implementation of desperately needed, but difficult structural reforms to strengthen the rule of law. Moreover, the most important challenge currently consists of improving the effectiveness of existing institutions.

The outgoing government of Enrique Pena Nieto, driven by strong reform pressures in the administrative, social and security sectors, has followed this general trend. The administration created the “Pact for Mexico,” which was signed by the heads of the main political parties very shortly after President Peña Nieto took office. His administration has fallen short when it comes to transparency and accountability for how reform decisions are made; and overall, implementation has fallen short.
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