Applied Constitutional Studies Laboratory (ACSL)

The Applied Constitutional Studies Laboratory is a multi-disciplinary applied research project focusing on complex problems of governance at the intersection of Law, the State and Economy. Funding for the research was provided by the Ford Foundation and The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

It uses big data to (1) assess the impact of law and policy in society (2) measure the resilience, capability and fragility of national, provincial and local governments and (3) track key social issues. Recent research projects include:

  • Municipal Audit Consistency Barometer (MAC-B) and the Provincial Audit Consistency Barometer (PAC-B), measuring municipal and provincial compliance with audit standards
  • Civic Protest Barometer 2007-2014, measuring trends in civic protests
  • Just and Capable Cities Index, measuring inclusion and capability in cities
  • winning the bid to redesign powers and functions of local government in South Africa

ACSL’s work significantly influences government policy on local government and it has been approached by South Africa’s Auditor-General and the South African Special Risks Insurance Association to form research partnerships.

ACSL also supports constitution-building and multilevel government in Africa. Recent projects include:

  • major studies on local government and state formation after civil war, multilevel government in Uganda and Zimbabwe
  • international book chapters on civil service reform, intergovernmental relations, subnational boundaries and land use planning
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