The practice of inter-governmental relations ( IGR) and its management has become an important element for facilitating service delivery in the public service. This paper departs from the premise that IGR presents an opportunity for improved service delivery that is yet to be fully harnessed. In
order to fully actualise the facilitative potential that is inherent in IGR, it has become essential to identify critical elements that can assist public administration practitioners to harness the possible
gains that can be made through effective IGR management. These critical elements are identified
in this article and are linked to the generic activities of public administration which are described
as involving decision-making, planning, advising, co-ordination, conciliation, arbitration, command
and data gathering through which government carries out its responsibilities.
The article commences with an overview of the case study contexts - the Nigerian public service and the South African public service. This contextualisation provides an opportunity to highlight and present cross-country findings (lie, 2006: 146-196) that may assist in improving IGR effectiveness in both federalist and unitary states.