Over the past decade, RAMSI has stabilized the state in Solomon Islands, but many basic problems of governance remain. Among the most pressing is the failure of the state to effectively engage with and deliver services to the rural people who comprise the majority of the population. Since the colonial era, underfunded administrations have struggled to govern these geographically dispersed islands, but many ordinary citizens and public servants feel that subnational government functioned better twenty or thirty years ago than it does today, even after ten years of intensive statebuilding. Frustration about failure of subnational govrnment is felt widely and deeply in Solomon Islands, but recent attempts to address this failure, which have included a dramatic expansion of development funds administered directly by Members of Parliament, have arguably made the situation worse.
Such challenges were the focus of a roundtable discussion held during the "Solomon Islands in Transition" workshop at the Australian National University (4-6 November 2013) with senior Solomon Islands public servants and academics from Solomon Islands, Australia, New Zealand, and beyond. A core message that emerged from that conversation was that in this critical period of transition, the most important thing that the Australian government and other members of the international community can do is help Solomon Islanders reverse a recent history of defunding and dismantling the institutions of subnational government.