By Sanford (Sandy) Berg at the University of Florida Email
The five write-ups below survey my views about teaching, research, and outreach based on my own professional evolution. As a graduate student at Yale University, I could not have imagined my good fortune in finding a university position that would open so many doors. There are still some years before I become less active as a teacher, researcher, and workshop organizer. So the notes here do not represent a “final chapter;” however, assembling the ideas has provided me with some fresh perspectives on what I have most enjoyed since I came to the University of Florida in 1971. The sections may not be of interest to anyone else. Nevertheless, I have attempted to describe my passion for teaching, my love of economics as a policy science, how my research has complemented classroom activities, managerial economics as a component of professional education, and observations on mentoring outside the classroom. It is a real privilege to have such flexibility that allowed me to explore so many interesting (and useful) ideas over the years. In return, I have tried to shape the Public Utility Research Center into an institution whose impact will continue long after I can no longer contribute to its programs.
Ways to improve water services by making utilities more accountable to their users: A review
Mike Muller, Robin Simpson, and Meike van Ginneken prepared a World Bank Water Sector Board Working Note that “aims to help those who work in and with water utilities, as well as organized users, regulators, and policymakers to improve the quality of water services by making service providers more accountable to the people they serve. Traditionally, users relied on politicians to maintain oversight of budgets and compliance with rules and to intervene on their behalf when services failed. This institutionalized a “long route” of accountability from user to political representative to service provider. Modern approaches to public management seek to hold service providers more directly accountable to their users for the outcomes of their work. Providers are expected to ensure that water flows safely and reliably from taps, that blocked drains are cleared, and that services are accessible and affordable to all. Accountability in this context is about establishing a direct “short route” between users and service providers. This review identifies a range of practical tools that can help to do this. It considers where they have been used, where they have succeeded and, as important, where they have failed, and draws lessons from this experience.”
Benchmarking for Regulatory Purposes
This report summarizes the results of primary and secondary research with regulators and electric utilities to explore the use of benchmarks across the electric industry, both in Canada and abroad. It also provides summary findings, conclusions, and recommendations for the implementation of regulatory benchmarks in the future.
Meeting the Water Reform Challenge
Governments around the world face significant challenges in managing their water resources effectively. Building on the water challenges identified by the OECD Environment Outlook to 2050, this report examines three fundamental areas that need to be addressed whatever reform agendas are pursued by governments: financing of the water sector; the governance and institutional arrangements that are in place; and coherence between water policies and policies in place in other sectors of the economy. The report provides governments with practical advice and policy tools to pursue urgent reform in their water sectors.
Urban Water and Sanitation Poverty in Tanzania: Evidence from the Field and Recommendations for Successful Combat Strategies
Urban water and sanitation poverty in Tanzania is striking. Recent data suggests that 74% of the urban population in Tanzania’s nineteen regional cities and Dar es Salaam lives in so called Low-Income Areas (LIAs). Only an estimated 23% of those have access to reliable water supply according to the national definition of “access” (page 3). As Tanzania has not only one of the highest birth rates, but also one of the highest urbanization rates in the Sub-Saharan Africa (5%-6%), urban water and sanitation poverty is likely to become worse for the majority of the population. This paper gives an overview of data collected through a recent Baseline Survey in Tanzania and makes recommendations for combating urban water and sanitation poverty based on lessons learned from years of work in the country by GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit).
Africa’s Power Infrastructure
This study is a product of the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic (AICD), a project designed to expand the world’s knowledge of physical infrastructure in Africa. The AICD provides a baseline against which future improvements in infrastructure services can be measured, making it possible to monitor the results achieved from donor support. It also offers a more solid empirical foundation for prioritizing investments and designing policy reforms in the infrastructure sectors in Africa.
Water Supply Networks and Pipelines: The Hidden Costs of Resorting to Intermittent Supplies
Intermittent supplies through municipal piped water networks can be due to a lack of hydraulic capacity or severe deterioration in the network, but they can also be a result of rationing imposed as a last resort during water shortages. Bambos Charalambous explains the hidden costs of intermittent supplies, and underlines the contribution well-maintained networks that allow losses to be minimized can make when there are pressures on resources. This paper was published in the International Water Association’s Water21 December 2011 issue.
Sustainable Sanitation and Water Management
The site contains a Toolbox for Sustainable Sanitation and Water Management. There are tools for capacity development in the area of water supply; the material is designed for capacity building. The site contains tutorials on the benefits and costs of improving performance in the water and sanitation sector, demonstrating that integrated water resource management (including water use for irrigation) is crucial for long term sustainability.
Monitoring Performance of Electric Utilities: Indicators and Benchmarking in Sub-Saharan Africa (2009)
This study presents the results of a major data collection and presentation effort by a World Bank team. The objective was to collect data for the selected electricity sector indicators from all sources available and present them on the web in a form that would be useful for all types of potential audiences: utility managers and specialists, policy makers, energy sector practitioners, researchers and wider public. The resulting document provides a valuable set of data for those wishing to compare performance in the region.
Emerging PPP trends in the water & sanitation sector
This paper presents an overview of emerging shifts in approaches to Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the water and sanitation sector. Based on interviews with 21 professionals who are actively involved in the field, the analysis focused on four areas: contracts, regulation, finance, and stakeholder engagement. While there are obvious limitations to using interviews as a methodology, the aim was to determine experts’ perceptions of where the trends in PPPs are headed.
The Operation and Maintenance Network (OMN)
OMN aims to improve information and expertise exchange on operation and maintenance of drinking water supply and sanitation systems. Its tools, knowledge and other services are focused on the situation in low and middle-income countries.
Water Operators Partnerships: Africa Utility Performance Assessment
This document provides a synthesis of the self-assessment and benchmarking exercise carried out among more than 130 African utilities engaged in water supply and sanitation services. Charts and tables provide performance indicators covering technical and financial performance, human resources, customer services, affordability and other areas. These assessments and associated regional workshops were critical steps in the development of the Water Operators Partnerships program for Africa (WOP-Africa).
Water Utility Benchmarking: Measurement, Methodologies, and Performance Incentives
Dr. Berg’s book, “Water Utility Benchmarking: Measurement, Methodologies, and Performance Incentives” has been published by the International Water Association. The book integrates and extends results from several funded projects for the World Bank (IBNET) and the Inter-American Development Bank (Benchmarking Study of Central American Water Utilities). Performance assessment represents a challenge for managers, regulators, and policymakers. The framework is also relevant for electricity distribution company benchmarking. To order the book, contact IWA Publishing.
Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic (AICD)
This is an innovative knowledge program to improve public understanding of Africa’s infrastructure situation. By rigorously evaluating past infrastructure policy reforms, the AICD assists policymakers in setting priorities for current infrastructure investments and provides a baseline for monitoring progress. The AICD has undertaken unprecedented data collection and analysis on the status of the main network infrastructures, including energy, information and communication technologies, irrigation, transport, and water and sanitation. The analysis encompasses public expenditure trends, future investment needs and sector performance reviews. The AICD is being implemented by the World Bank on behalf of a steering committee chaired by the African Union Commission, and comprising the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, the African Development Bank, Africa’s regional economic communities, and donors investing in African infrastructure.
The Regulation of Water and Sanitation Services in DCs
Water and sanitation services involve externalities and natural monopoly characteristics. Economic regulation of these services includes the regulation of tariffs, quality of service provision, competition and consumer protection. There are a whole host of institutional models for carrying out such regulation: self-regulation, regulation by contract, and regulation by agency. In addition, hybrid models combine these elements and add expert panels and/or user participation. Each of these systems has its advantages and limitations This work summarizes existing theoretical literature on regulation and compares the French and Anglo-Saxon approaches to regulation. In addition, it reviews aims to help professionals in the water sector resolve concrete issues facing decision-makers in developing countries, including access for the poor.
Promoting Water Management Efficiency
In March 2010, PURC Director of Water Studies Dr. Sandy Berg delivered this presentation, via video to the 15th International African Water Association Congress in Kampala, Uganda.
Financing On-Site Sanitation for the Poor: A Six Country Comparative Review and Analysis
Public investments of varying forms enable an absolute increase in the number of poor people gaining access to sanitation, varying from 20 to 70 percent, according to a study of six cases in Bangladesh, Ecuador, India, Mozambique, Sénégal, and Vietnam. This research seeks to identify the best-performing approaches and the relevant factors and issues to consider in designing a sanitation financing strategy. The report offers guidance to sector professionals developing on-site sanitation projects and programs, which play the leading role in providing access to sanitation.
Sustainable Community Management of Urban Water and Sanitation Schemes (A Training Manual) The Water and Sanitation Program published a practical course manual for trainers of urban communities in Tanzania (and elsewhere) to improve water supply and sanitation management practices. The seven modules are meant to equip communities with the tools to eliminate or reduce the major constraints in managing infrastructure and providing services. The manual also clarifies the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders. This manual covers technical issues such as operations and maintenance activities, with a strong focus on institutional, managerial, and financial issues. The material is especially relevant for communities who have a relationship with the main water services provider and who are committed to hiring an Operations Manager.
Tariff Setting Guidelines: A Reduced Discretion Approach for Regulators of Water and Sanitation Services by Chris Shugart and Ian Alexander
The objective of the project ‘Tariff Setting Guidelines – A Reduced Discretion Approach’ is to prepare a set of sound, well-specified guidelines that can be used by regulators to improve the predictability and transparency of the tariff-setting and adjustment process and thus reduce uncertainty. The guidelines are primarily conceived to be used in concession-type contracts or in regulatory licenses, and the project focuses on the regulation of companies providing WSS; nonetheless, the logic, and in many cases the specific guidelines proposed, have wider applicability for other sectors and other contract types.
The World Bank Infrastructure and Law
This website is designed for government officials, lawyers and project managers who are involved in the planning, design and legal structuring of infrastructure projects, especially projects with private sector participation.
Infrastructure Benchmarking: A comprehensive bibliography of Data Envelopment Analysis with more than 4000 journal articles is now published.
African Water Utilities: Regional Comparative Creditworthiness Assessment Report
This study examines how to mobilize additional funding for developing the water sector and ensuring that these investments result in sustainable service delivery. The report contains steps for conducting credit ratings so as to develop a better understanding of the credit worthiness water utilities in Africa. The findings from a sample study are presented in this regional report. The analysis is based on data sourced from seven participating water utilities across five African countries – Burkina Faso, Kenya, Senegal, Tunisia and Uganda. The data is then used to calculate proxies for industry statistics.
Charting Our Water Future
This study focuses on water resource management issues, but the links to water utility issues are clear. Numerous cases provide examples illustrating how inter-agency conflicts might be resolved, ways the private sector can contribute to improving sector performance, and evidence-based approaches to institutional reform.
Public-Private Partnerships for Urban Water Utilities
This book by Philippe Marin on provides a review of experiences in developing countries. He provides an overview of PPPs, including evidence on how private participation affects access, service quality, operational efficiency, and tariffs. Implications for coverage, water losses, and collections are also discussed. The author then presents lessons for the next generation PPPs in the water sector. The volume is nearly 200 pages long, and a comprehensive bibliography provides additional references.
Two reports jointly produced by the African Development Bank, PPIAF and the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) provide useful cases from Africa:
Water Utilities in Africa: Case studies of Transformation and Market Access
This report presents case studies from Burkina Faso, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia on the qualities and attributes that signal the readiness of utilities to access commercial finance. Each case study incorporates an assessment of the local financial market environment as well as attempts that have been undertaken by the utility to access those markets.
Water Services for the Urban Poor – The Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) has issued a new Guide for improving Water Supply and Sanitation Services to the Urban Poor. The Guide identifies obstacles to reaching the poor, and proposes six action areas:
Give the Poor a Voice
Neutralize Vested Interests (water vendors, organized crime, public officials, and utility staff)
Eliminate Administrative and Legal Barriers (address land ownership/tenure issues)
Strengthen Capacity, Autonomy, and Accountability of Service Providers and Provide Incentives to Serve the Poor
Overcome Physical and Technical Barriers (water resource management and growth management)
The report includes a compilation of 19 case studies from 12 countries as well as consultations with urban poor communities to analyze similar barriers and propose solutions.
Improving Water Utility Services through Delegated Management
This case study provides lessons from utility and small scale providers in the informal settlement of Nyalenda in Kisumu, Kenya. Utility partnerships with small-scale providers are becoming increasingly important as mechanisms for serving the poor. The Field Note discusses the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders (the state, the utility provider, citizens/clients, and local providers).
Visit the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility website and read summaries of several recent publications including, Recent Trends in Private Activity in Infrastructure: What the Shift Away From Risk Means for Policy, Does the Private Sector Deliver on Its Promises? Evidence from a Global Study in Water & Electricity, and The Role of Developing Country Firms in Infrastructure: New Data Confirm the Emergence of a New Class of Investor (Updated with 2005 and 2006 Data)
Studies on Infrastructure seem to be available on a monthly basis. Two recent policy research working papers on regulation and sector performance are available, one for Latin America and another for Southern Africa:
Another helpful resource on the power sector is the report, Reforming Power Markets in Developing Countries: What Have We Learned? by John E. Besant-Jones. The paper is a sourcebook of some 240 references that study international experiences in power market reforms. The author will be a featured presenter at the 24th PURC/World Bank International Training Program on Utility Regulation and Strategy in June.
OARE, Online Access to Research in the Environment, enables developing nations to gain free access to its large collections of environmental science literature. AGORA, Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture, offers online access to its digital collection at a reduced-cost or no cost to developing nations.
As state-owned utilities gain experience with benchmarking and improve their performance, they may seek the endorsement of regulators for the issuance of bonds. The Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) has announced a three-year pilot, the Sub-National Development Technical Assistance Program (PPIAF-SND), to help sub-national entities improve their creditworthiness so they can access market-based financing on their own account without sovereign guarantees. The goal of this new program is to help mobilize local capital for improvements in infrastructure services and promote the development of local financial markets.
The volume, Handbook for Evaluating Infrastructure Regulatory Systems (Brown, Stern, and Tenenbaum, World Bank, 2006), provides an overview of why, what, and how to evaluate regulatory systems; discusses the rationale for regulatory evaluations and describes various forms of regulation; compares the dominant styles of evaluation, emphasizing the importance of analyzing regulation systems against sector-based outcomes; presents the case for using the independent regulator as the benchmark for performing the most credible and effective evaluations; details elements of different hybrid or transitional regulatory systems when “best practice” regulatory systems are not feasible; describes how to assess the impact of regulation on sector outcomes and provides tools to identify these impacts; offers guidance on conducting quick, mid-level, and in-depth evaluations of regulatory systems.
In the Spring Semester of 2007, University of Florida undergraduate student teams in the course, Public Utility Economics: International Infrastructure, examined issues in infrastructure industries, such as the political economy of regulation, market structure and competition, performance benchmarking, service to the poor, cost analysis, and environmental impacts.