How can we understand the delegation of power and authority – for example, from a polity to an administrator – in a world of fragmented governance? In this paper, I introduce the practices of contemporary ‘rule of law’ and ‘governance’ reform, which reframe this question in politically powerful ways. These practices are increasingly important in development contexts, and beyond. Practitioners begin with the assumption that some sort of administration occurs in the development contexts in which they work. [---]