NISPAcee Annual Conference
I. Working Group on Local Government
Lech Kaczynski National School of Public Administration
Interaction in Polish local government
Paper files are available only for conference participants, please
Abstract not available
After almost two decades of substantial changes local self-government in Poland is responsible for a number of local services in the field of social and technical infrastructure, physical planning, environment and public safety. The decentralization reforms have consciously attempted to improve the quality and efficiency of public service delivery and to increase participation of citizens in public decision-making processes. Reforms have focused on shifting the power from central to regional and local units and demands from citizens have contributed to reforms such as imposing salary limits for officials or instituting direct elections of mayors. At present further modernization and consolidation reforms are undertaken. For example, following West European countries a new approach of metropolitan governance is emerging, both from the bottom (creation of Silesia metropolitan governance) or top-down plans of new metropolitan governance law. Apart from large scale structural changes locally driven managerial reforms are more often adopted, especially among some leading local self-governments.
The general aim of the paper is to explore the current state of governance reforms initiated by local decision makers at local level, identify barriers of their development and ways of further improvement. Theoretical explanation will be followed by assessment of approaches undertaken by Polish local units to enhance their public policies outcomes. One of the main challenges for current governments is to move from information to interaction. Today, no official or government can claim to have all the tools or all the powers necessary to effect a complex policy outcome. The search for the best policy options often involves an increasingly complex process of interactions inside and outside of government. The public policy issue of the twenty-first century require even more interaction among public servants, between public servants and elected officials and elected officials and citizens. (Bourgon 2007). The more interactive governance may created by many new concepts and tools including the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). The E-governance, improved citizen engagement, deliberative democracy, e-democracy are vital building blocks in the renaissance of local government.
Effective and healthy local democracy depends on the ability of citizens to directly influence the public policies that deeply affect their lives. The potentially increased communication between citizens and local government puts high demands on public authorities to review and respond to all the input from citizens. A question suitable for debate is whether the actors in local democracy: politicians, civil servants or citizens, have sufficient capacity to fully benefit from all existing communication tools and solutions.
Proposed analysis should give answers to the following questions:
1. How to establish effective interaction tools at local level ?
2. What kind of strategies and plans have polish local self-governments concerning participation of citizens ?
3. What is the level of awareness possessed by officials and local politicians in the field of deliberative democracy?
4. How information and communication technologies (ICT) should be designed to reinvigorate participation in civic life and modernize local policy making. (confirming, defining the problem or task, identify options for solving the problem or doing a task, selection the most proffered option, design, implement and evaluate given policy)?
The expanded paper should answer mentioned dilemmas and contribute to better understanding and evaluation of interactive governance at local level among Polish local governments. Research on the stipulated question will be based on number of data sources already existing and results of surveys undertaken by author.