¼udmila Gajdošová, NISPAcee
Executive Director in Cooperation with Conference Chairs and Coordinators
The 9th NISPAcee Annual Conference, organised in co-operation with the Latvian School of Public Administration, Riga Latvia, was attended by more than 200 academics and practitioners from 33 countries from all over the world. This included 20 CEE countries and covers the NISPAcee institutional membership. The participants of the Conference, the largest to date, were welcomed by Martin Potucek, NISPAcee President, Ugis Rusmanis, Director of the Latvian School of Public Administration and Janis Krumins, Minister of Special Assignment on Public Administration Reform.
The welcome and opening were followed by the Latvian panel which included presentations of representatives of the Latvian administration who provided participants with up-to-date information on the state of public administration affairs in Latvia. Gunta Veismane, Director of the State Chancellery spoke about their decision-making and policy coordination. Svetlana Proskurovska, Deputy Director of the Secretariat for Minister of Special Assignment on Public Administration Reform gave a presentation which focused on PA reform in Latvia and the role of education and training. The final speaker, Ilga Preimate, Deputy State Secretary, Ministry of Economy spoke about the relationship between government and the development of a market economy policy in Latvia.
The Presentation of the Alena Brunovska Award for Teaching Excellence in Public Administration, which appeared on the NISPAcee Conference program for the first time, took place immediately after the Latvian panel. A specially designed glass prize and Diploma, together with a cash prize, were presented to the first winner of the award, Wolfgang Drechsler, Tartu University, Estonia, by both the NISPAcee Director and the President. Professor Drechsler’s excellent presentation entitled “Good and Bad Government, Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s Frescoes in Sienna Town Hall as a Mission Statement for Public Administration Today” demonstrated not only the quality of his lecturing skills, but also contributed to the conference programme by expressing his ideas and views on the main conference theme.
The plenary session, chaired by Stanka Setnikar-Cankar, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia and Juraj Nemec, University of M.Bel, Slovakia, turned attention to presentations on the main conference theme which focused on issues that represent the daily agenda of public administration and public sector reforms in every country in the world. This included not only how government, market and the civic sectors co-operate, but also how they compete in the processes of effective and efficient delivery of public services.
Four main papers were presented during the conference plenary session. The first paper “Good Government for a Better Economy” was presented by Bob Bonwitt, SIGMA/OECD on behalf of its author, Sally Shelton Colby, Deputy Secretary-General of OECD, who apologised for her absence. This was followed by a presentation by Juraj Nemec, Slovakia on “Competition and Contracting”; Witold Mikulowski, Poland on “the Role of NGOs in the Modernisation of PA in Poland” and Stanka Setnikar-Cankar, Slovenia on “The Interdependence of the Economy and PA”. These papers dealt with the most important dimensions of the conference theme, particularly the basic features of “good” government and the implementation of its interventions in society and the economy. They also covered the potential of the market to influence the quality and effectiveness of public services, with particular focus on competition and contracting in the CEE region, and on the role of civic sector organisations in public administration developments and reforms.
The remaining papers were presented and discussed during three working sessions, which took place after the plenary session. These working sessions focused on different topics, such as the role of the market in university education, the ways and approaches to improve the quality of public administration with special focus on the local level; the impact of decentralisation on the quality of public administration; how civil servants perceive the quality of public administration and the performance of main institutions of the state and of society; the role of information technologies in public administrations and the strategies used to implement them in administrative offices; the role of the state in the economy and the delivery systems of selected local community services.
The papers presented illustrated that public-private-civic sector partnerships are a reality in Central and Eastern Europe, but that the mechanisms should be further developed in order to achieve higher quality, efficiency and effectiveness of public administrations, under today’s specific conditions.
Five NISPAcee working groups ran their meetings concurrently with the working sessions. In addition, several specialised meetings were held, for example, the workshop on the joint NASPAA/NISPAcee project “Governance Improvement Co-operative Project” with an aim to providing instructions on how to develop proposals for technical assistance or project proposals for applied policy research by potential applicants from NISPAcee member institutions; a meeting of the principal contributors of the NISPAcee textbook “Public Management Cases” and a special meeting was devoted to a discussion on the new NISPAcee Mission and Strategy for the next 3 to 5 years. Reports of all these meetings were presented during the NISPAcee Business Meeting, which was also held during the conference. The conclusions, recommendations and outcomes of the working sessions and working groups were presented during the closing plenary session of the conference by the sessions’/groups’ co-ordinators.
Finally, it is important to mention that the conference was an immense success due to the support of the Latvian government, Gunta Veismane, Director of the State Chancellary, funds of LGI/OSI, Hungary which supported meetings of four working groups, and the enthusiastic involvement of the Latvian School of Public Administration in the preparation and implementation of the entire event. We would particularly like to acknowledge the contributions of Ugis Rusmanis, Director and Mara Grudule, Head of the Project Coordination Unit. Thanks to their efforts, the conference was not only a valuable scientific and academic event but in addition to the intensive meetings and work programme, participants had the opportunity to relax and enjoy Latvian hospitality. The various social events which were organised, included an impressive excursion to the famous baroque castle “Rundales” complete with a baroque concert. Conference participants appreciated the excellent running of the conference and the Latvian organisers’ hospitality.
REPORTS OF WORKING GROUPS
I. Working Group on Politico-Administrative Relations
Tony Verheijen, UNDP, Slovak Republic and Alexandra Rabrenovic, University of Glasgow, UK
The Group reviewed the outputs of the work over the last three years and also began to plan new initiatives based on the knowledge and insights gained over this period.
The textbook produced by the Working Group (Who Rules? Politico-Administrative Relations, edited by Tony Verheijen) was reviewed by Prof. Vidlakova and discussed in the group. One of the main lessons learned during the preparation of this publication was the difficulty of applying “Western models” for categorisation and comparative assessment of politico-administrative relations. This item was on the agenda and was introduced by Prof. B. Guy Peters. Based on discussions of the above and also on three additional theoretical papers that had been submitted, the group decided that in order to take this issue further, a much expanded empirical research project should be developed, focusing on the role perception of senior officials, i.e. how they cope with their dual role, and combine the “political” and managerial aspects of their work.
Two further key issues on the agenda of the group were the discussion
of pilot studies on politico-administrative relations under coalition governments
and the finalisation of the studies on politico-administrative relations
at local government level.
II. Working Group on Better Quality Administration for the Public
Joanne Caddy, PUMA/OECD, France and Mirko Vintar, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
The Working Group held its second plenary meeting during this conference.
The meeting was attended by over 30 participants drawn mainly from the
CEE/NIS region. There were 15 paper presentations and one case study, covering
experiences from a wide range of countries, including: the Czech Republic,
Denmark, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia,
and Ukraine. The main topics discussed were: basic concepts of quality
management in public administration; introduction to the Common Assessment
Framework (CAF); use of ICTs in raising the quality of public administrations;
the application of total quality management (TQM) approaches in a CEE context;
quality customer service; feedback and consultation with citizens on service
delivery; ethics and training of civil servants. The last session of the
Working Group meeting was dedicated to the review of a draft set of policy
recommendations for decision-makers in CEE and NIS countries and to setting
the course for future work. We firmly believe that the notion of better
quality administration will gradually enter the agenda of all governments
in the region and further research work in this field will become more
important for the development of public administrations in the respective
countries. Hence, the continued importance of the Working Group's aims
and the need to publish and disseminate the findings of the group through
a specialised publication to be produced by the end of the year.
III. Working Groups on Systems of Social Security
Marketa Vylitova, Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs, Czech Republic and
Janos Hoos, Budapest University of Economic Sciences and Public Administration, Hungary
The Working Group has been dealing with social security issues for three years under the current co-ordinators. This year it focused on two main subjects at the NISPAcee Annual Conference: education and globalisation and its impact on social security systems.
Some of the main conclusions of the Working Group are the following:
IV. Working Group on Democratic Governance of Multiethnic Communities
Petra Kovacs, LGI/OSI, Hungary and Jana Krimpe, Tallinn University of Educational Sciences, Estonia
The Working Group on Governing Multi-ethnic Communities had its second meeting at the 9th Annual Meeting of NISPAcee. This year, members of the WG further discussed policy issues related to democratic governance of multi-ethnic communities both at the central and sub-national levels of governments. Panel discussions of the working group included two major topics:
V. Working Group on Public Sector Finance and Accounting
Zeljko Sevic, University of Greenwich, UK
The Group was formally established at the Riga Conference. The group members presented six academic papers which dealt with fairly diverse issues in the field, from the analysis of regional public finance policies and tactics and EU initiated changes to a political economy analysis of grant transfers in a unified country. The papers presented initiated a heated and open discussion, which shed more light on different public finance practices in various CEECs. The Group concluded that public sector finance and accounting related issues have been neglected both in theory and in practice, and that it is necessary to reverse the negative trends and work on the promotion of public sector accounting and finance research at the member institutions.
The Group also laid the foundations for the preparation of a research
protocol and country study guide for the project “Grant Transfers and Financial
Supervision in CEECs: A Comparative Study”.
NISPAcee Business Meeting
The Business Meeting was held on May 11, 2001. NISPAcee annual reports (activities, finances) and future plans were presented to representatives of NISPAcee members and other participating interested guests. The future development of the organisation was also discussed. The new document, concentrating on the development of the organisation for the next 3 to 5 years “Mission, Objectives and Activities” and widely discussed with conference participants during a special meeting focusing on the NISPAcee Mission and Strategy prior to the Business meeting, was adopted by the General Assembly.
The election of three NISPAcee Steering Committee members was an important part of the programme. Three NISPAcee Steering Committee members completed their term on May 11, 2001:
We would like to express our thanks to Todor Tanev and especially to
Laszlo Varadi, who served for two terms on the Steering Committee and for
three years as the President of the organisation, for their work and contribution
to NISPAcee’s development.