"Public Administration in Times of Crisis"
The 18th NISPAcee Annual Conference, organised in co-operation with the National School of Public Administration, Warsaw, Poland, was attended by more than 350 participants from 37 countries from all over the world. This included 24 CEE countries covered by NISPAcee institutional membership.
NISPAcee would like to thank the local organisers, the National School of Public Administration, represented by its Director, Jacek Czaputowicz, and other colleagues, for the excellent organisation of the conference, financial support and the preparation of the social events, which created a friendly and pleasant atmosphere 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, which financially supported the meetings of several of the working groups and contributed to the success of the conference.
We would also like to extend our thanks to the programme coordinators of the conference sessions and working groups for their contributions to the high scientific and academic value of the entire event.
The conference was opened with welcoming and opening speeches presented by Gyorgy Jenei, NISPAcee President, Corvinus University of Budapest, Budapest, Hungary, Alexei Tikhomirov, on behalf of Haiyan Qian, Director, Division for Public Administration and Development Management, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UN, New York, USA, Adrian Ionescu, LGI/OIS, Budapest, Hungary, Marga Pröhl, Director General, European Institute of Public Administration, Maastricht, The Netherlands, Allan Rosenbaum, President, International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration, Brussels, Belgium, Jacek Czaputowicz, Director of the National School of PA, Warsaw, Poland. The conference continued with a panel of high-level Polish representatives of the government on the topic: Public Administration in Times of Crisis in Poland, moderated by Barbara Kudrycka, Minister of Science and Higher Education. The speakers were: Jacek Rostowski, Minister of Finance, Jerzy Miller, Minister of the Interior and Administration, and Slawomir Brodzinski,Head of the Civil Service. The speeches were followed by the presentation of the keynote speaker Wolfgang Drechsler, Department of Public Administration, Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn, Estonia.
The opening plenary session concluded with the presentation of the NISPAcee Alena Brunovska Award for Teaching Excellence in Public Administration to Juraj Nemec, University of Matej Bel, Banska Bystrica, Slovakia who delivered a paper "New Public Management and its Implementation in the CEE: What do we know and where do we go?”.
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, and a presentation of new initiatives and opportunities for collaboration with external organisations, as well as within NISPAcee.
The NISPAcee Business Meeting was also, 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 new NISPAcee Steering Committee members was an important part of the programme. To replace Stanka Setnikar-Cankar, Slovenia, and Wolfgang Drechsler, Estonia, who had completed their term of office on the Steering Committee, and Gyorgy Jenei, Hungary, who had also completed his term of office as NISPAcee President, the General Assembly elected new NISPAcee Steering Committee members, Ringa Raudla, Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn, Estonia and Marius Profiroiu, Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest, Romania. Gyorgy Jenei was re-elected as a NISPAcee Steering committee member for the next period. The new Steering Committee elected a new NISPAcee President for upcoming two years period Mzia Mikeladze, Caucasus School of Governance, Georgia.
The closing plenary session was opened by Gyorgy Jenei and reports from all sessions and working groups (for a short summary, see below) were presented.
The NISPAcee MERIT AWARD was presented to Stanka Setnikar-Cankar, University of Ljubljana,Slovenia, Wolfgang Drechsler, Tallinn University of Technology, Department of Public Administration, Tallinn, Estonia, Guy B. Peters, University of Pittsburgh,United States, and Allan Rosenbaum, Florida International University, United States for their substantial contribution to NISPAcee’s development.
The Award ‘NISPAcee Best Graduate Student Paper’ was presented to the winner Dana Mihaela Murgescu, Romania, PhD student at the National School of Political Studies and Public Administration, Romania for her paper ‘The Influence of the Global Economic Crisis on Regional Differences in Romania’.
Reports of Panels and Forums
Several sessions were included in the conference programme.
The overall objective was the presentation of different projects and relevant activities, as well as enabling and facilitating the exchange of views, experiences and good practices among participants, institutions and countries.
Main Conference Theme
B. Guy Peters, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Rainer Kattel, Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn, Estonia
The two sessions concentrating on the main conference theme evoked interesting discussions on the contemporary challenges to public administration, but perhaps even more importantly, left us with unanswered questions regarding those challenges and the responses to them. Those unanswered questions constitute an interesting agenda for future research. It is clear that the current crisis is having, and will continue to have, an enormous impact on public administration in the NISPACEE countries. One of the more interesting responses, for example, was the emphasis on market-based solutions to problems, where, in other cases, these solutions have waned in importance. Understanding the logic behind the administrative reforms being implemented is crucial, given the dangers of implementing ill-chosen reforms in the face of a crisis. This calls for additional comparative research, as well as conceptualisations of the nature of the current crisis and the alternative responses.
Mzia Mikeladze, Caucasus University, Tbilisi, Georgia
Gyorgy Jenei, Corvinus University of Budapest, Budapest, Hungary
Presentations in the General Session were quite diverse by their very nature and the list of issues that they addressed. All papers looked at the various aspects of development of public administration and discussed the changes that are necessary in order to deal with the crisis and minimise its negative impact on CEE countries. Overall, ten papers were presented. Intervention of the state in public/private sectors, changes in tax systems, ways for improving public services and benefits and the weaknesses of outsourcing these services, gender equality in the government and legislative aspects of development of e-governance are major topics that were discussed.
Panel on Comparative Health Reforms in CEE
Juraj Nemec, University of Matej Bel, Banska Bystrica, Slovakia
James Bjorkman, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, Netherlands
The panel on Comparative Health Reforms focused on processes and outcomes in the region. Its papers followed explicit guidelines which will provide the basis for a book. The panel had attracted many applications, six of which were included in the programme but two were ‘no shows’. However, information about health care reforms in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia and Slovenia were presented, and the fact that there were fewer papers allowed intensive discussions and refinement of comparisons. The country studies confirmed that health reforms in Central Europe deliver results on a limited scale. An explanation of the reasons for such a situation is a primary goal of the planned book. The panel expects to meet next year in Varna, where almost final versions of country chapters will be presented.
I. Working Group on Local Government
Gabor Soos, Tocqueville Research Centre, Budapest, Hungary
Markku Temmes, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
The WG had a very active and successful meeting, consisting of 5 sessions and 16 presentations from 10 countries. We were also happy to receive (for the third time in a row) the award for young researcher in our group. The debate emphasised the impacts of the crisis at the local level, which is responsible for the basic welfare services in society. Of course, the negative impacts played an important role in the presentations but there was also substantial benchmarking information on the positive impacts, such as opportunities for reform, cutbacks in construction prices and an easier situation in the labour market for public organisations etc.
The WG had interesting and comprehensive discussions on the short-term/long-term impacts of the crisis and of the role of local government in solving those impacts. Relations between central, regional and local administration were also presented in those discussions, as well as the changes related to the crisis. The various impacts of the crisis in urban and rural areas were also one of the interesting themes within the group.
In the final debate of the group, an idea was put forward to answer the need for deeper research and analysis of the historical roots of local government in CEE countries. Our preliminary proposal, as a next conference sub-theme in the group, is to concentrate on the past and basic history of local governments in CEE countries and try to connect our findings with the challenges for the future.
II. Working Group on E-Government
Ignace Snellen, University of Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Ljupco Todorovski, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
During this year’s meeting of the working group, we continued our efforts towards building the NISPAcee learning platform on e-government. The platform represents a common framework for facilitating a more formal exchange of best practices with using information and communication technologies in the public sector, where the transfer of knowledge can be monitored, documented, and evaluated. The platform can also facilitate a comparative analysis of showcases and good practices that would go beyond single country borders. With the call for papers for this year’s meeting, we solicited further candidate showcases to be considered for inclusion in the learning platform.
New and existing working group members responded positively to the initiative by submitting 21 abstracts. After sending the authors of these submitted abstracts comments for improvements and preparation of the full papers, we received 16 full paper submissions, out of which 15 were presented during the meeting in Warsaw. The author of the remaining paper cancelled the conference presentation for personal reasons. Authors of the 15 full papers who attended the meeting came from ten countries (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Macedonia, The Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, and Turkey). We grouped these fifteen presentations together into four thematic clusters. In the largest one, we used the presentations of eight candidate showcases to be considered for inclusion in the learning platform. We dedicated the second cluster to the papers on presenting and evaluating national-level development of e-government; the third thematic cluster to the papers on models and methods for evaluating e-government projects, and finally, the fourth cluster included papers on advanced e-government topics.
In Warsaw, a total of 35 participants attended the working group sessions. Each session had an audience of about 20 participants; some of whom actively contributed to the discussions. Some participants of the previous meetings in Bratislava and Budva also attended the meeting in Warsaw; six of the authors of full papers also had full papers in Budva. The trend of establishing a community around the working group, observed last year, seems to be stable and it would appear that the learning platform increases the cohesiveness of this community.
III. Working Group on Civil Service
Patrycja Joanna Suwaj, Polish Association for Public Administration Education, Bialystok, Poland
Hans Rieger, DBB Akademie, Bonn, Germany
With an average of more than 30 – 35 participants in each session, this working group was very large. The presenters and participants were a good mixture, coming from both science and practice. This combination of participants was also observed in the presentations, where we had scientific findings and comparative studies, as well as practical implementations and project reports.
After a warm-up in order to have some team spirit in the group, we decided to have a 15-minute presentation and a 15-minute discussion for each paper which was selected for presentation.
Under the main conference theme "Times of crisis” in the WG "Public service” different topics were covered.
• Salary system (i.e. linked to qualifications, linked to experience)
• Human resources management (i.e. retaining staff)
• Human resources policy
• Integrity and ethics in the Public Service (i.e. regulations, code of conduct, implementation, outcome)
• Structure and development of Schools for Public Administration (i.e. Marketing of Schools, private vs. state organisations, demand-oriented curricula)
• Human Resources Development (i.e. Performance Management system, staff appraisal system)
• Motivation of staff in the Public Service (i.e. questionnaires, results of interviews)
• Civil Service regulations
Our way forward is to keep the group going. In addition to the already working presentations, we plan, in the future, to produce guidelines for one selected topic every year. In one session of the WG we will have:
1. Short introduction to the topic
2. Scientific background
3. Practical experience
4. Material, checklists, forms used in practice
IV. Working Group on PA Reform
Michiel de Vries, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Veronica Junjan, University of Twente, AE Enschede, Netherlands
During the conference of 2010 the work of our group focused on two research questions. These were a) What explains successful Public Administration Reform (in post-socialist countries)? and, b) What effects are visible because of Public Administration Reform?
More than 50 abstracts were submitted, of which 24 were accepted. All were presented during the six sessions entitled: Comparative perspective; Explaining Factors for PA Reform; The Reality of PA Reform ; International Influences and Young Researchers; Costs and Benefits of PA Reform and Theory of PA Reform. The papers were avidly discussed. On average, 40 participants per session provided an attentive and involved audience.
The first goal for next year is to develop and provide, with the support of WG participants, a monitor of reforms in our target region. We agreed to begin monitoring Public Administration Reforms in the regions of CEE and CA countries in order to be better able to distinguish the reality and myth of PAR. These monitors are expected to be published in a special issue of the NISPAcee Journal. The second aim is to include high quality papers presented within the group in a Special Issue of the NISPAcee Journal.
V. Working Group on Public Sector Finance and Accounting
Lucie Sedmihradska,University of Economics Prague, Department of Public Finance, Czech Republic
Lados Mihaly, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, West Hungarian Research Institute, Centre for Regional Studies, Hungary
Nadezhda Bobcheva, Municipality of Silistra, Economic Activities and International Programmes Directorate, Bulgaria
The focus of the Working Group was the effect of the crisis on local government finance. Papers covered new EU member states, the Western Balkans, the CIS, and advanced economies. The general conclusions from the work of the group are highlighted below.
A trend, observed in all those countries examined, is that higher levels of government shift the financial burden of the crisis to lower levels of government - there is a delay or even a cut in transfers.
The year 2009 was crucial for local government finance – a severe drop in local government revenues was observed. There are several underlying reasons for this:
- less tax revenues collected, especially from those related to business activities;
- less revenues from fees charged for local services;
- significant downsizing in the proceeds from property sales.
Facing a dramatic drop on their revenue side, municipalities faced problems in providing local services to their citizens. This process was coupled with the increased demand for social assistance. In order to secure public service provision, local governments either borrowed additional funds or stopped paying their liabilities, and municipalities began the new budget year heavily indebted.
Local approaches on how to handle this problem varied:
- some local governments focused on alternative service provision, mainly through contracting out and public-private partnerships;
- many municipalities decided to postpone public investment until "better times” arrive;
- careful budgeting - the mismatch between the forecasted and realised budget is negligible;
- co-operation in service provision – local governments join efforts to overcome the difficulties faced;
- increasing efficiency and effectiveness – municipal units were forced to perform better;
- increasing local tax and local fee rates – this measure is unpopular but it is easy to undertakein other cases, local tax rates were reduced or exemptions were introduced for businesses – this requires a more effective use of resources available to implement municipal services.
An interesting insight is that the world crisis hit urban municipalities harder than rural ones, eliminating inter-regional disparities. In addition, less-developed countries from the region are lagging behind with the "infection” of the crisis disease.
The Working Group also discussed the topic for next year. After many years of evaluation of the revenue side of the local budget, the attention of WG 5 turned to researching the spending of municipalities. The working title is ’Managing Local Government Expenditure’.
VI. Working Group on Internationalisation and Networking of Public Administration Studies and Civil Servants’ Training Systems
Eugenijus Chlivickas, Training Centre of the Ministry of Finance, Vilnius, Lithuania
In general, the following problems were discussed in the working group: new challenges to develop public administration studies under conditions of internationalisation and networking; progressive experience of public administration studies accumulated through international practice and networking; establishment and development of public servants’ education and training systems and the development and implementation of national and international solutions for the improvement of such systems.
The working group specified certain problems and suggested solutions to them. First of all, it was decided that the content of the public administration studies has to be relevant to the new requirements, predetermined by internationalisation and networking and prospects of co-operation between the EU and other countries.
Moreover, education processes of public administration studies and in-service training have to be increasingly internationalised. It is essential to develop international networks of Centres and Institutions for civil servants and public administration specialists’ training, studies and in-service training, and also to develop distance-learning technologies and, based on that, to internationalise the processes of training, studies and in-service training.
The title and content of the WG is new – particularly relevant and promising at the present time. So, there is a great demand to continue the work that has been started.
VII. Working Group on Policy Analysis
David Elder, Queen´s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Valeriy Tertychka, National Academy of Public Administration, Office of the President of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine
Lesya Il'chenko-Syuyva, National Academy of Public Administration, Office of the President of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine
As a part of public administration reforms, a significant effort has been made to improve decision-making within the public sector by developing capacity in policy analysis in CEE, Central Asia and Caucasus countries. In 2007, the Panel Session on Policy Analysis was established to create a forum for the discussion of recent developments in the targeted countries. Thus, following upon the success of having such forums, the new Working Group on Public Policy Analysis was established withintheNISPAcee Annual Conferences with the support of the LGI. The WG is continuing discussions on which factors restrict the further development of policy analysis; who are the potential stakeholders of policy analysis; how the current stage of policy analysis in a particular country impacts the economic, social and political environment and how those challenges can be overcome (i.e. through upgrading academic, training and retraining programmes).
During the 2010 NISPAcee Annual Conference, the Working Group primarily focused on the main challenges the CEE, Central Asia and Caucasus countries presently face:
1. methods and tools of public policy analysis on various government levels: supranational (i.e. EU experience), national and local;
2. experiences in developing and circulating policy communication documents (i.e. white papers, green papers, policy papers etc.);
3. institutional framework of regulatory impact assessment (hereinafter - RIA)procedures;
4. ex-post policy analysis (policy monitoring and evaluation).
All in all, more than 40 representatives took part in the Working Group sessions. Practitioners and researchers from more than 10 countries showed an interest in the topic and 14 speakers presented their papers on the various elements of sectoral public policy analysis.
On the basis of the experience gained, Working Group coordinators would like to express their thanks to the LGI and NISPAcee staff for their support of the new initiative, to all participants of the Working Group for their professionalism and interest in public policy analysis and look forward to continued fruitful co-operation within the WG on Public Policy Analysis in the coming years.
Polish/SEAP Working Group
The Polish/SEAP working group, co-chaired by Professor Jacek Czaputowicz and Dr. Witold Mikulowski from KSAP, was organised mainly for the members of the Polish Association for Public Administration Education (SEAP), co-organiser of the Conference with KSAP.
The general theme of the working group was: "Polish administration and public administration training Institutions in the face of the challenges of the economic crisis and the social consequences”. The debates were conducted in Polish, with the exception of the first session, honoured by the presence of David Walker, Head of the European Administrative School, who inaugurated the session, presenting his ideas on the theme "What kind of training and development do civil servants need, viewed from the perspective of European institutions, at a time of increased economic and social challenges?”
The working group had four sessions. During the first three sessions, 12 papers were presented and discussed. The debates were organised around four problems:
- How polish public administration is facing the challenges of the financial and economic crises.
- Public administration capacity to implement development policies based on decentralisation and participatory governance.
- Civil service in the context and constraints of a public finance crisis.
- Problems of the adaptation of civil servants’ training programmes and methods to the new challenges and needs of public administration.
The discussions focused mainly on the problems related to PA degrees and in-service training programmes’ contents and methods. Are they adequate for PA needs in general and, more particularly, in the context of the current financial and economic crisis? Does this crisis already have, or should it have, a significant impact on this domain?
To the first part of this question, the answer was certainly ‘not yet’. Our training programmes and methods are not well adapted to the needs of modern public administration, despite initiatives of the SEAP to modify existing obsolete standards. Also, the challenges of the recent crises have not yet brought any significant changes in this field.
However, the real change in this domain requires substantial modifications to the present legal framework of the higher education system in general and, more particularly, to the modernisation of the existing statutory official standards for Public Administration degree programmes. It also requires, on the one side, closer collaboration of the training institutions delivering Public Administration programmes with the employers of their graduates and, on the other side, strengthening of public institutions’ capacities to better define and express their training needs, as well to implicate themselves in the educational activities of training institutions.
The fourth and last working group session was devoted to the annual General Assembly of SEAP members.