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The 16th NISPAcee Annual Conference
"Public Policy and Administration: Challenges and Synergies

May 15 – 17, 2008, Bratislava, Slovak Republic


 

Photos from the conference

 

Online Conference programme is available along with the presented papers at the conference

The 16th NISPAcee Annual Conference, organised in co-operation with the Instituteof Public Administration, Bratislava, and theInstituteof Public Policy, ComeniusUniversity, Bratislava, was attended by more than 220 participants from 36 countries from all over the world. This included 18 CEE countries covered by NISPAcee’s institutional membership.

 

NISPAcee would like to thank the local organisers, the Institute of Public Administration, represented by Dr. Stanislav Konecny and his colleagues, and the Institute of Public Policy, represented by Assoc. Prof. Ludmila Malikova and her colleagues, for the great organisation of the conference, financial support and preparation of social events which created a very amicable and pleasant background for conference participants.

 

NISPAcee would also like to thank the Local Government and Public Service Reform Initiative affiliated with the Open Society Institute, Budapest, Hungary that financially supported the meetings of the several working groups and contributed to the success of the conference.

 

We must also extend our appreciation to programme coordinators of the different conference sessions and working groups for their contribution to the high scientific and academic value of the entire event.

 

The conference began with welcoming and opening speeches presented by Mzia Mikeladze, NISPAcee President, Centre for Training and Consultancy, Tbilisi, Georgia, Stanislav Konecny, Director of the Institute of Public Administration, Slovakia, Andrea Elchekova-Matisova, Head of representation of the European Commission in the Slovak Republic on behalf of Jan Figel, European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, Pawel Swianiewicz, LGI Steering Committee Representative, University of Warsaw, Poland, Ben Slay, Director of UNDP Regional Centre, Slovakia and Almaz Atnafu on behalf of Guido Bertucci, the Director of DPADM, UNDESA, New York, USA, followed by presentation by Slovak expert, Emilia Sicakova-Bebelava, President of Transparency International Slovakia.

 

The keynote presentation was made by Barbara Kudrycka, Minister of Science and Higher Education, Poland.

The morning plenary session ended with the presentation of the NISPAcee Alena Brunovska Award for Teaching Excellence in Public Administration to Prof. Attila Agh, Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary who delivered a paper "Synergies and Conflicts between Policy Regimes and Political Systems”.

 

The next part of the conference programme consisted of the working sessions on the main conference theme, general sessions, meetings of seven working groups and Panel Sessions and Forums which enriched the programme of the conference with new information, presentation of new initiatives and new opportunities for collaboration with external organisations as well as within NISPAcee:

- Forum of Heads of Schools and Institutes of Public Administration

- Panel on Getting Public Administration Reform to Work

- Panel on the European Accreditation of Public Administration Programmes

- Panel on Policy Analysis Development Issues

- Panel on Governance Practices and Public Services in Transylvania

- Panel of Health Policies and their Implementation

- Panel of the Instituteof PublicAdministration, Bratislava

 

The NISPAcee Business Meeting was, as usual, on the conference programme. The annual reports (activities, finances) and future plans were presented to representatives of the NISPAcee members and other participating guests.

 

The election of a new NISPAcee President was an important part of the programme. To replace Mzia Mikeladze, Georgia, who finished her term as President but still remains a Steering Committee member, the NISPAcee Steering Committee members elected Gyorgy Jenei, Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary.

 

The closing plenary session was open by Mzia Mikeladzeand reports from all sessions and working groups (short summary below) and the report of the conference general rapporteur, Jak Jabes, National University of Singapore were presented.

The Award for NISPAcee Best Graduate Student Paper was presentedto the winner Ms. Astghik Mavisakalyan, Armenia, PhD student at the University of Sydney, Australia for her paper Development priorities in an emerging decentralised economy: The case of Armenia local development programs”.

 

Report of Panels and Forums

Several panel sessions and forums were included in the conference programme.The overall objective was the presentation of different projects and relevant activities, as well as to enable and facilitate an exchange of views, experiences and good practices among participants, institutions and countries.

 

General Session
Chairs:
Wolfgang Drechsler, Tallinn Technical University, Tallinn, Estonia
Gyorgy Jenei, Corvinus University of Budapest, Budapest, Hungary
Speaker:
B. Guy Peters, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, United States

 

Presented papers covered various topics but all of them used the possibility to present the most interesting and recent research results that they wanted to share and discuss with an international and knowledgeable audience. The presentations were followed by vivid discussions and the presenters received many comments and recommendations for the continuation of their research projects. The session provided a comprehensive view on the various approaches to the main dilemmas connected to the changing role of modern governments in the Euro-Atlantic culture.

 

Panel on Getting Public Administration Reform to Work
Chairs:
Michiel de Vries, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Veronica Junjan, University of Twente, AE Enschede, The Netherlands 

The  goal of the Panel was to bring together the experiences of practitioners in public administration reform (consultants, local and foreign advisors) and research carried out by scholars in Public Administration on the topic of public administrative reform and how to make it work.

 

The Panel was enthusiastically received: five papers were presented and over thirty attendees engaged in a lively discussion. The richness of the theme was reflected by the issues addressed in the papers: monitoring and evaluation, assessment of excellence, provision of technical assistance, the introduction of the position of public managers through a training programme, as well as an overview of the decentralisation process. Given the success of the panel in terms of the quality of the papers and interest shown by other conference participants, this dialogue is to be continued in the future.


 

Panel on Health Policies and their Implementation

Moderator: Juraj Nemec, University of Matej Bel, Banska Bystrica, Slovakia

Chair: James Bjorkman, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, The Netherlands

The Panel’s main focus was CEE health care policy and reforms and their specifics. Five papers were prepared for this panel; three of them connected dominantly to the main theme and two focused on selected delivery issues (e-health and marketing in hospitals).


The important part of the WS meeting was the discussion about future research projects in the area and possibilities to co-ordinate NISPAcee activities with other main international bodies, especially with IPSA RC 25 activities. All participants expressed the need to meet again during the next NISPAcee conference in Montenegro.

 

Panel on Governance Practices and Public Services in Transylvania
Chair: Calin Hintea, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Twenty graduate students in public administration and public policy from the School of Urban Affairs & Public Policy, University of Delaware and the Faculty of Public Administration, Babes-Bolyai University completed a two-week joint study of governance practices and public services in Transylvania, which is unique in higher education. Representatives from both universities presented collected information from jointly prepared research papers.


Forum of Heads of Schools and Institutes of Public Administration

Advantages and Pitfalls of Using Innovative Delivery Methods in Teaching Public Administration and Public Policy

1/ Topic: Presentation of the experience of the Institute of Public Policy in using e-learning to teach public policy
Chair: Ludmila Malikova, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia

2/ Topic: Good Practices to Mainstream Diversity into PA Education
Chair: Tamar Abdaladze, Zurab Zhvania School of Public Administration, Kutaisi, Georgia

 

Report of Working session on the Main Conference Theme

Coordinators:
Laszlo Vass, Budapest School of Communication and Business, Budapest, Hungary
Katarina Staronova, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia


Six papers were presented at the main conference theme session. Herrington Bryce raised the question of ethics in the policy process. Una Kelly gave an insight into Albanian Europeanisation, emphasising the role of the political leaders in the institutionalisation of an effective policy-coordination. Vladimir Benacek introduced the case of CzechInvest, a privatisation agency managing development policy. Terry Cox provided us with the first outcomes of a policy research in Hungary, and György Hajnal discussed the problems of the policy failure mechanisms in Hungary. Finally, Lesya Il’chenko-Syuyva and Olexandr Kilievych shared their experiences about the policymaking process in Ukraine. 


 
Reports of Working Groups

Working Group on Local Government
Coordinators:
Gabor Soos, Tocqueville Research Centre, Budapest, Hungary
Markku Temmes, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland


The papers presented the experiences of local government and decentralisation in the 12 CEE countries. The scope of the themes was also wide from the general experiences in reorganising local government to many specific themes of local activities and decentralisation. 

The presentations and discussions in the working group proved that much development had already taken place in local government development in CEE countries. It was also clear that this development had created more differences between national local government models between these countries. The need to have more comparative research and analysis of successes and failures in various countries was obvious.

 

Working Group on E-Government
Coordinators:
Ignace Snellen, University of Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Ljupčo Todorovski, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia


 

The focus of the workgroup in 2008 was planned to build up on an overview of the e-government development in Central and Eastern Europe, mainly by documenting good e-government practices in these countries, where good practices included both

e-government projects and national strategies for development of e-government.


 

The papers were grouped into three sessions – two of them were dedicated to the theme of evaluation of e-government projects and national-level strategies and one to future prospects of e-government development. Authors from Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, and Turkey analysed the national-level e-government strategies in their countries. They mainly focused onidentifying the critical issues in implementing these strategies; some of them also analysed the effects of implementing the strategies. The paper from the Czech Republic reports on a comprehensive analysis of benchmarking e-government, identified a number of limitations thereof, and proposed approaches to overcome them. The paper from Slovenia was an empirical study of efforts for digital archiving of documents in the Slovene public sector, while the Austrian paper provided a glimpse into the usability of trusted computing platforms for improving the security of e-government projects. In Bratislava, about 30 participants in total were present at our sessions.

 

Two major problems were identified with the e-government workgroup this year that we will attempt to address in future. First, there is an obvious lack of comparative studies that would go into the analysis of projects/strategies from different countries; namely, all the papers presented focus on a single country. The second problem is the inability of potential participants to attend the conference due to financial issues. We plan to address both issues by proposing a new workgroup program that would focus on building an e-government learning platform. The platform to be built by the workgroup members would include a collection of innovative e-government projects from CEE countries and would allow workgroup members to conduct comparative studies and identify critical development (success and failure) factors. Next year’s Call for Papers will be planned to encourage contributions to the learning platform. We will also apply for financial support for the workgroup, which would further motivate participation.

 

Working Group on Integrity in Public Governance
Coordinators:
Patrycja Joanna Suwaj, Polish Association for Public Administration Education, Bialystok, Poland 
Hans Rieger, DBB Akademie, Bonn, Germany


In the working group, several dimensions of "Integrity Management” were discussed.After a joint introduction of the programme and the participants, during the first presentations on Thursday 15th May, the group heard about and discussed the different problems in public procurement - the experience and the recommendations. We also discussed the possibility of a handbook and guidelines for Integrity Management. The 2nd day began with a discussion on ethics. We spoke about the demands on ethical behaviour in the public service and especially on decision-making. Following this, there was a discussion on the ethics of taxpayers. In the afternoon, the idea for a handbook and guidelines were discussed and the first ideas were collected.

 

During the last working block on the 17th of May, the group came together to present and discuss an IT tool for procurement in Serbia. The tool, based on the regulations and recommendations for public procurement, showed the possibility to influence ethic behaviour through instruments such as this IT solution. In the last presentation, the current situation in different countries for combating corruption was analysed and discussed.

The group decided to continue the work on the "Handbook and Integrity Management”. The possibility of joint work for a publication is now under preparation.

 

 

Working Group on Democratic Governance of Multi-ethnic Communities
Coordinators:
Tamar Abdaladze, Zurab Zhvania School of Public Administration, Kutaisi, Georgia
Natalya Kolisnichenko, Odessa Regional Institute of Public Administration, NAPA, Odessa, Ukraine
Michael Brintnall, American Political Science Association (APSA), Washington DC, United States


The Working Group studies how public administration education and public policy can improve multi-ethnic democracy. Papers this year examined public institutions: the ombudsman in Bulgaria, the minority self-government in Hungary, limitations of civil society in Uzbekistan and how EU rules may advantage stronger minorities over weaker ones, as faced by Tatars in Ukraine. We found language issues central, though variable, depending on the group's sense of discrimination and ability to mobilise resources. The group heard about PA education in Estonia and Georgia and met with the Forum of Deans and Rectors of Schools. We find there continue to be too few resources to bridge social, economic, political and linguistic inequalities that limit the access of minorities to PA education.


 

Working Group on Public Sector Finance and Accounting
Coordinators:
Lucie Sedmihradska, University of Economics of Prague, Czech Republic
Mihály Lados, Centre for Regional Studies of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

 

The objective of the 8th meeting of the Working Group was to look at local property tax in the context of local government revenue systems in light of fiscal decentralisation and to identify the main barriers of a more effective use of this local tax in CEE and CIS countries. Eleven papers from 8 countries were presented. Each presentation was based on a joint research protocol. Papers focused on tax on immobile property and we discussed who the taxpayers are, what the object of the tax is, what kind of rating is used and what the future prospects are for local property tax in each country.

 

Although there are innumerable differences among the countries analysed we can summarise that in most countries, with the exception of Poland and Moldova, local governments gain only small revenue from the property tax. Mostly unit base taxation is used. The Czech Republic uses a coefficient matrix to modify the tax base for simulating the market value of property. Some countries utilise the value base tax but the revaluation of properties is irregular and insufficient. Businesses are usually taxed with a higher tax rate than individuals. The extreme case is Poland where the rate for businesses is 35 times higher than for individuals. Other countries reported a rate of 3-4 times. Some countries also exclude private houses from taxation. The tax objects differ significantly amongst the countries.


The level of the debate or interest to change or modify their present local property tax system is high in some countries (for instance Ukraine) and very moderate (for example the Czech Republic). A market calibrated unit base property tax is more suitable for these countries than an ad valorem tax which is expensive to administer and needs robust revenues. Local governments should harmonise the distribution of the tax burden between businesses and individuals: reduce the rate of overtaxed businesses and increase it for individuals based on both utility and ability to pay the principle of taxation. Local governments should also turn more attention to the non-fiscal effects of property taxation, such as regulation of the local real estate market when the property tax is levied against speculations and enforces property owners to develop their land and buildings. Participants discussed the potential topic of the Working Group for the NISPAcee Annual Conference in 2009. More options emerged from the discussion, ensuring the activity of the Working Group for years. Finally, the group accepted the theme on municipal asset management for the next year.

 

Working Group on Capacity Building of a Civil Servants' Training System According to EU Requirements
Coordinators:
Eugenijus Chlivickas, Training Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania
Borisas Melnikas, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Vilnius, Lithuania

The following relevant problems were discussed in the 6th Working group on Capacity Building of a Civil Servants’ Training System. According to EU Requirements: new challenges to develop a public servants’ training system under conditions of globalisation; EU enlargement and a knowledge society establishment; progressive experience of public servant’s training accumulated through international practice; establishment and development of public servants’ training systems and the development and implementation of national and international strategies for improvement of such systems.

 

 

It was decided that the content of the training and in-service training has to be relevant to the new requirements, predetermined by EU enlargement and prospects of co-operation between the EU and other countries; the quality of training and in-service training has to comply with international standards and the latest requirements; processes of training and in-service training have to be increasingly internationalised.

 

Working Group on Public Sector Transparency
Coordinators:
Emilia Sičáková-Beblavá, Institute of Public Policy, Comenius University, Transparency International Slovakia, Bratislava, Slovakia
Katarína Staroňová, Institute of Public Policy, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia
Discussant: Ronald Maclean Abaroa, World Bank


This working group focused on the use of policy instruments (legal, information, economic and administrative) with anti-corruption strategies in a transformation economy. The main aim was to analyse the factors that lead to successful implementation of anti-corruption measures: from their inceptions, struggle over time, to their maintenance and sustainability in practice. The ultimate aim of the research papers was to map anti-corruption measures from the perspective of policy instruments that have been introduced in transition countries during the years 1995-2006. The focus was on all types of public administrating institutions, ranging from central institutions (ministries and specialised agencies) to self–governments at regional and local levels, judiciary etc.  


The working group session began with a discussion on the classification of anti-corruption tools from the perspective of policy instruments stressing legal, information, economic and administrative tools. As for the information tools, eight papers were presented and discussed. They focused on the implementation of access to information acts in Slovakia and Poland, lobbying, transparency of political party financing, participation of central and local in the decision-making process, the use of web sites by local governments as well as the use of annual reports to increase the transparency of the central government level. Within the framework of economic anti-corruption tools, the anti-corruption effects of the 2004 active labour market policy reform in Slovakia was discussed. The approach to corruption by the utilisation of economic tools was also discussed in concrete practice in Columbia and Romania. Both presentations stressed the importance of leadership and anti-corruption education of local leaders who have the power to implement and enforce anti-corruption tools. Also two anti-corruption administrative tools were presented – the institute of special courts and court management.

 

The working group concluded with a discussion on anti-corruption tools.
Last, but not least, is the issue of sustainability. We found that the level of controversy is not a good guide to sustainability of the reforms. Surprisingly, the ideologically charged changes have high levels of sustainability even when they were initially controversial and the steps that have proven to be less sustainable are those where specific interest groups remain opposed and where the reform has not managed to create a powerful constituency in favour of the new status quo.


This Working group was supported by The Slovak Research and Development Agency.

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