If you are looking for a method to organise your governance work, the TAPIC framework is one of the most robust in research terms and one of the simplest to use. Drawing on an extensive literature review, the authors of this framework capture five categories of governance; transparency, accountability, participation, integrity and capacity. These five categories together provide a useful map of the issues that any public body will want to think about when considering their governance arrrangements.
About the Framework
The TAPIC framework comes from the world of health governance. You can find the full details in chapter two of ‘Strengthening Health Systems Governance: Better policies, stronger performance’ (2016) edited by Greer, Wismar and Figueras. A shorter summary of the chapter (which is by Greer, Wismar, Figueras and Mckee) can be found here (pdf).
Although the framework has been developed in the health context, the authors have drawn on the wider public administration literature for their extensive review. This identified 60 attributes of good governance which the authors then reduced to the five categories of the TAPIC framework.
Crucially the five categories do not overlap and and are independent of each other. The result is a map that covers all of the governance terrain. This is helpful because it gives confidence that all of the important aspects of governance will have been covered in any review.
It’s also important to stress that the framework is not prescriptive. The five categories are not ‘ingredients of good governance’ as the authors put it, but rather boxes that tell us what needs to be addressed. While simply seeking more of one of the categories may not necessarily be better, there may also be trade offs and conflicts between the different categories.
Nevertheless, the map provided by the framework will help governance practitioners to ensure that what needs to be covered, is covered. In fact I’ve used the TAPIC framework to set the categories for this blog.
Here then are each of the five categories in brief.
Transparency refers to the way that public bodies inform those outside the organisation about decision making and the decision making process. At its best, say Greer et al, ‘transparency produces information that is available, useful and accurate so it can be used by those who would rely on, plan with or seek to influence the organisation. The result is trust’.
Accountability refers to the relationship between the public body and another organisation or forum that must be informed of decisions, is entitled to have those decisions explained to it and has the power of sanction. Good accountability goes beyond ensuring compliance through punishment and instead sees public bodies being supported by the expertise and experience of those holding the body to account.
Participation ‘means that affected parties have access to decision making and power so that they acquire a meaningful stake in the in the work of the institution’ (Greer et al). As well as ownership, participation can also generate information to improve decisions and ensure that organisations operate in line with democratic principles.
Integrity refers to the ethical dimensions of a public body such as legality and anti-corruption, but it also refers more widely to the good management of the organisation. Processes should be understood and predictable, roles and responsibilities should be clear and rules should also be clearly stated and observed. Beyond this integrity relates to the overall mission and purpose of the organisation and its coherence in pursuing this.
Capacity, or more specifically policy capacity, refers to the ‘ability to develop policy that is aligned with resources in pursuit of goals’ (Forest et al cited by Greer et al). This can mean the support provided, often by a small team, to those involved in the policy process that can ‘transform ideas into workable, well designed policies’. Skills in areas such as analysis and research will be important as will the ability to manage networks of relevant stakeholders.