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WG_News :: About WG :: Coordinators :: Activities :: WG_outputs
Activities: Working Group on Public Administration Reform
(includes Central and East European and Central Asian Countries in Transition (PAR in CEECA)
 

Call for papers 2020
 
WG Programme Coordinators:

• Dr. Diana-Camelia Iancu, Faculty of Public Administration, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Bucharest,
dciancu@gmail.com

• Dr. Veronica Junjan, Department of Public Administration, Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences, University of Twente,  Enschede, The Netherlands, V.Junjan@utwente.nl

In fluid and diverse political and socio-economical contexts, governments strive to contribute to the welfare of all their clients, regardless of age - (post)millennial or senior citizens), residence (urban or rural) or education (graduates or illiterates). They are asked to guarantee equal access, speedy delivery, and qualitative services and to stay competitive in markets that increasingly value flexibility and innovation (Sum and Jessop, 2013; Andersen and Pors, 2016). Whilst observing the changing expectations of how and when services are being delivered, governments are also expected to spend less, often relying on scarce and poorly motivated human resources. Finally, as a consequence of digitalisation, whilst remarkable advances are possible because of artificial intelligence, cloud computing and data analytics, governments are being asked to be cautious in handling personal data violations, fake news, and other unintended consequences of the e-revolution (Castells, 2010; World Economic Forum, 2017; Schou and Hjelholt, 2018; DESI Report, 2019).
 
 
We strongly encourage scholars and policy makers to join our sessions in Split and to reflect on one (or more) of the following questions:
 
 
1. How do governments deal with the structural change driven by digitalisation? To what extent do they update their reform strategies and instruments for ensuring good governance and with what visible outcomes?
 
2. How can governments make their clients trust them for the right reasons and governmental organisations trust each other to attain the common good?
 
3. What weight does digitalisation carry for the accountability of the reform processes and strategies it triggered and with what consequences for the overall transparency of the post-Weberian bureaucracies? 

Successful applications should include a review of the relevant literature, a clear research question and methodologies, and briefly discuss the expected results. For policy papers, the overview of the policy problem, a short account of the existent alternatives and the proposed recommendations should ensure acceptance of the proposal.
All contributors invited to join our sessions will have the opportunity to discuss their papers with the chairs, appointed discussants and invited participants. The chairs expect that a number of papers will be invited to contribute to a joint-publication of the WG, dedicated to the challenges digitalisation brings for public administration reforms across the globe.

References:

Andersen, Niels Åkerstrøm; Pors, Justine Grønbæk, 2016, Public Management in Transition: The Orchestration of Potentiality. Bristol: Policy Press.
Castells, M., 2010 [1996], The Rise of the Network Society (Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture Volume 1), Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
DESI Report (The Digital Economy and Society Index), 2019, European Commission, online at: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/desi (last access: June 30, 2019)
Schou, Jannick; Hjelholt, Morten, 2018, Digitalisation and Public Sector Transformations, Cham: Springer International Publishing, Palgrave MacMillan.
Sum, Ngai - Ling.;  Jessop, Bob, 2013, Towards a Cultural Political Economy: Putting Culture in Its Place in Political Economy. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
World Economic Forum, 2017, Digital Transformation Initiative (in Collaboration with Accenture). Executive Summary, January 2017, online at: https://www.accenture.com/_acnmedia/Accenture/Conversion-Assets/WEF/PDF/Accenture-DTI-executive-summary.pdf (last access: June 30, 2019)



Activities in 2019

Meeting of the Working Group on PA Reform

WG Programme Coordinators:
Diana-Camelia Iancu, National School of Political Studies and Public Administration, Faculty of Public Administration, Bucharest, Romania
Veronica Junjan, University of Twente, School of Management and Governance, Enschede, Netherlands

 
Place: 27th NISPAcee Annual Conference, Prague, Czech Republic
Date:  May 24-26, 2019
 
 
For the 27th NISPAcee Conference, the WG on Public Administration Reform in CEE and CA aimed at discussing evidence of NPM-driven administrative reforms across the globe (in CEE, Central Asia, South Africa, North America).

Seventeen papers were presented in five sessions:
 
Session 1: Theory and Praxis of Post-New Public Management
Session 2: From Policy Design to Policy Practice: Lessons (to be) learnt (1) (ERASMUS+ Jean Monnet Project PRACTIC)
Session 3: Assessing the Impact of EU Policies on Member States
Session 4: Good Governance Building: An Eastern Outlook
Session 5: From Policy Design to Policy Practice: Lessons (to be) learnt (2) (ERASMUS+ Jean Monnet Project PRACTIC)
enjoyed the vivid debates of more than 20 core-participants.  

Following the relevant international scholarship, several questions were addressed namely (but not exhaustively): What impact does the structure of the domestic structural context (decentralisation/centralisation) have on the overall efficiency of public service delivery in different regions/countries? Can a poor internationalisation of EU norms explain reform reversal and/or reform fatigue in some CEE Member States? And, how could public administration research make a difference in the lessons decision-makers learn? 
 
Activities in 2018


Meeting of the Working Group on PA Reform

WG Programme Coordinators:
Diana-Camelia Iancu, National School of Political Studies and Public Administration, Faculty of Public Administration, Bucharest, Romania
Veronica Junjan, University of Twente, School of Management and Governance, Enschede, Netherlands

 
Place: 26th NISPAcee Annual Conference, Iasi, Romania
Date:  May 24-26, 2018

The Working Group on Public Administration Reform focused on the challenges to well-being and the lessons learned in the process of building and consolidating good governance in Europe and beyond. All (16) submitted articles were presented in four sessions, respectively:

1.    Change and Performance in Public Sector: Comparative Insights. This session comprised three papers being presented by, in order of presentation: Jesse Campbell, Incheon National University, Republic of Korea; Ion Muschei, AIC University, Romania and D.C. Iancu, NSPSPA, Romania.
2.    Innovation(s) in Public Sector: Lessons Learned. This session included four papers presented: Judit Szakos, National University of Public Service, Hungary; Emilija Tudzarovska Gjorgjievska, Institute of Sociology, Czech Republic; Michal Sedlacko, University of Applied Science, Austria; and Adriana Cîrciumaru, National Agency of Civil Servants, Romania.
3.    Challenges to Public Sector Development in Europe and Central Asia. There were five papers presented in this session, by: Colin Knox, Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan; Rustamjon Urinboyev, University of Helsinki, Finland; Evgeny Kapoguzov, Omsk State University, Russian Federation; Bianca Radu, Babes-Bolyai University, Romania; and Gyorgy Hajnal, Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary.
4.    Reflections on Public Administration: An Outlook of Theory and Practice. Four papers were presented in this session, by: Liviu Radu, Babes-Bolyai University, Romania; Maciej Pisz, University of Warsaw, Poland; Matus Sloboda, Comenius University, Slovak Republic and Veronica Junjan, University of Twente, The Netherlands.

The engagement of participants (usually 10-15 per each session) in the discussion of PA trends and reflection on resilience and growth scenarios in Europe and Central Asia allowed the group to propose the identification of further means for individual (and/or) institutional cooperation under the umbrella of NISPAcee. The possibility of attracting funding for the Working Group via the next Jean Monnet Call  is under consideration by the co-chairs.    
 
Activities in 2017

Meeting of the Working Group on PA Reform
WG Programme Coordinator:

Diana-Camelia Iancu, National School of Political Studies and Public Administration, Faculty of Public Administration, Bucharest, Romania

 
Place:  25th NISPAcee Annual Conference, Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Russian Federation
Date:  May 18-20, 2017
 

In Kazan, the Working Group on Public Administration Reform focused on discussing ten papers, organised into four general panels:

1. Public Management and beyond: Reforms in Context,

2. Civil Service: Management and Performance,

3. Regulatory Reforms: Theory and Practice, and

4. Accountability Mechanisms and Good Governance.

Each panel benefited from the presence of practitioners and academics and generated lively debates on roughly two main questions: what lessons needed to be learned for better governing and how do we improve the learning process for politicians and communities?

Summaries of working group papers:

-Possibly explained by the financial and political challenges, as well as the historical context, the scope and form of centres of governments in the CEE region have changed so to better accommodate the problems of today’s polities.

-Instead of searching for panacea, some more innovative local governments have successfully started owning the reform processes and re-connecting to their communities.

-Redesigning the evaluation performance systems may also prove effective in boosting governmental performance.

-Is self-regulation desirable for better governing and what are the incumbent costs?

-Accountability of the public sector (to whom, how and why) was a topic approached from both a legal perspective and a policy focus.

-Changing the working paradigm is also worthwhile: dissecting NPM has been, for the past decades, a visible "must” and yet some of its principles may still be harvested.

-Thinking of tenure as a way of securing professionals for the civil service may have had its perks, but presently, this line of argument can be seriously challenged by practitioners.

 
 
Activities in 2016

Meeting of the Working Group on PA Reform
WG Programme Coordinators:

Veronica Junjan, University of Twente, School of Management and Governance, Enschede, Netherlands
Diana-Camelia Iancu, National School of Political Studies and Public Administration, Faculty of Public Administration, Bucharest, Romania

 
Place:  24th NISPAcee Annual Conference, Zagreb. Croatia
Date:  May 19-21, 2016

The theme of the 24th NISPAcee Annual conference in Zagreb "Spreading standards, Building Capacities” was particularly interesting for WG III - PAR in CEECA. Seventeen papers out of the nineteen which were originally selected were presented during the five sessions assigned to our group. The papers were grouped in sessions according to the following central themes: Impact of EAS on PA Reform; (New) Public Management and PA Reforms in Europe and Beyond; EAS and Civil Servants Reform; PA Reforms: Legacies, Standards and Effectiveness; and Local PA Reforms in Comparison.

Each of the annual sessions of WG III has traditionally enjoyed a large and mixed audience: students and scholars of public administration and policy, representatives of institutes and agencies managing the civil service and civil servants across Europe and beyond, elected officials as well as members of the tertiary sector agreed to openly address critical issues of PAR. The meeting in Zagreb was particularly vivid considering the general reflection on administrative standards in context. Different country experiences, theoretical considerations, advantages and disadvantages of various methodological approaches were carefully discussed. The presentations provided by colleagues from countries outside the NISPAcee region (South Korea and South Africa) provided very interesting anchors for drawing parallels concerning the dynamics of PA reforms at global level.

The discussions reached several conclusions. First, there seems to be a need for specification of the concept and usefulness of standards. Diffusion of PA standards needs to be balanced with the specific context of the country. Institutional legacy has to be taken into account when designing solutions tailored to the specific needs of the country. Facilitating exchanges to discuss and share experiences concerning the regional patterns of reform helps in transferring the knowledge across the different contexts. As the practitioners present in the discussions indicated, discussing regional experiences helps both practice and academia. Raising awareness in academia on sensitive issues in the field is also extremely important.

In perfect harmony with our discussions, our group proudly announces that the CPA-ICPAF Award for Best Comparative Paper presented at the NISPAcee Annual Conference was presented to one of the papers discussed in our sessions, namely, "Fiscal Crisis and Expenditure Cuts: The Influence of Public Management Practices on Cutback Strategies in Europe” co-authored by Ringa Raudla, Tiina Randma-Liiv, James Douglas, and Riin Savi. The Merit Award was received by Mr. Tony Verheijen, for his extended contributions to NISPAcee’s work. In our WG he presented the paper "Serbia’s Difficult Administrative Transition to Join the European Administrative Space: Legacy, Traditions and Constraint” (with Srdjan Svircev and Raymond Muhula).

The difference in pace and content of reforms, as well as in the values shared or acknowledged during the implementation of EAS, encourage us to further pursue research on the success and failures of PAR in CEECA. Publication of a selected group of articles in a forthcoming book on Comparative studies of PAR in CEECA is expected.

 
 
Activities in 2015

Meeting of the Working Group on PA Reform
WG Programme Coordinators:

Veronica Junjan, University of Twente, School of Management and Governance, Enschede, Netherlands
Diana-Camelia Iancu, National School of Political Studies and Public Administration, Faculty of Public Administration, Bucharest, Romania

E-mail: dianaiancu@hotmail.com 

 
Place:  23rd NISPAcee Annual Conference, Tbilisi, Georgia
Date:  May 21-23, 2015
 
In the past decades, outsourcing has been one of the core issues in public sector reforms across Europe. Questions on its pertinence for governmental effectiveness, role played in legitimising policies in low trust environments and facilitating internalization of international norms in decentralised, domestic contexts, were often raised both in academic and professionals’ debates.  
The Working Group on Public Administration Reform in CEE & CA countries also tackled some of these issues and their implications in Tbilisi, at the 23rd NISPAcee Annual Conference. A fair group of scholars and practitioners debated the merits and demerits of outsourcing in three panels, namely: 1. Strategy and Strategic Decision – How to Think about Outsourcing; 2. Instruments of Outsourcing – Which are the Tools of the Trade? and 3. Implementation of Outsourcing: Why Does (or Does not) Work?. Quantitative and qualitative research findings of ten papers with single and multi-country settings led to a vivid and fruitful dialogue.
Barbara Lehmbruch (paper: Between Reform from Above, Tax Farming and Tunnelling Out:  The Micropolitics of Post-Soviet Public Sector Outsourcing) and Marian Zulean (co-author of Insourcing or Outsourcing the Strategy Formulation: The Participatory Dimension on Strategic Planning for Romanian Public Administration) depicted the legitimising role of outsourcing in low participatory policy contexts, while arguing on the latter’s effectiveness.
Cultural and institutional challenges that outsourcing might imply for public organizations were discussed after the presentations given by Kuuli Sarapuu (co-author of Civil Service Training System: An institutional Approach), Marton Gellen (paper: Why Hungarian Civil Servants Dislike Outsourcing) and Gabriele Burbulyte-Tsiskarishvilli (co-author of Public-Private Partnership in Lithuania: Insiders’ Gaze to the State of Affairs (Pilot Research).
Normative questions on outsourcing (e.g. what public services should never be outsourced; are governments benevolent actors, interested solely in the welfare of communities, etc.) were targeted by discussants of the papers presented by Septimiu Szabo (co-author of Outsourcing vs. Decentralisation: A Comparative Analysis in Central and Eastern Europe) and Hendri Kroukamp (Public Administration Reform: To be Blamed for Inefficient Local Government in South Africa? Lessons for CEE and CIS countries).
Finally, researchers and practitioners alongside engaged in debating best practices in outsourcing and policy experimentation based on the presentations given by Iwona Sobis (co-author of From Evidence Based Policies to Evidence Based Public Sector Reforms), Mirjana Stankovic (Insourcing and Outsourcing at the Local Level in Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina: Resistance to Change, or Lack of Entrepreneurial Spirit, Courage and Risk-Taking Capacity?) and Kaide Tammel (Lessons from Downsizing Back-Office Functions: Using Shared Service Centres as Instruments).

 
 
Activities in 2014

Meeting of the Working Group on Public Administration Reform
WG Programme Coordinators:

Veronica Junjan, University of Twente, School of Management and Governance, Enschede, Netherlands

Diana-Camelia Iancu, National School of Political Studies and Public Administration, Faculty of Public Administration, Bucharest, Romania

Place:  The 22nd NISPAcee Annual Conference, Budapest, Hungary
Date:  May 22-24, 2014

The theme of the 22nd NISPAcee Annual conference in Budapest "Government vs. Governance in Central and Eastern Europe” was very inspiring for the WG IV PAR in CEECA. During the five sessions assigned to our group, 18 out of the 19 which were originally selected were presented. The papers were grouped in sessions according to the following central themes: Contextualization; Reform Agendas in Western Balkans and CEE; Effectiveness in Central Asia and Caucasus; Results in CEE; and Lessons and Trends. Our audience included practitioners and academics, with on average 22 participants per session, and engaged in very lively discussions. Participants brought in the discussion a variety of practical and personal experiences, theoretical frameworks, and methodological approaches.

The discussions reached several conclusions. First, it is important to clarify the context where reforms are being designed and where they are being implemented. The participants presented diverse theoretical frameworks and methodologies used to analyse the institutional and social context where reform efforts are carried out. Second, more reflection is needed in terms of defining, measuring, and evaluating reform results (again, across different institutional and social contexts). Difficulties in defining "what do we measure” and "how do we measure” were extensively discussed, especially when taking into account the multitude of stakeholders (with different perspectives) active within the governance structures.Third, additional attention needs to be paid to interpretation issues. Different positions were exchanged concerning the differences between "myth” and "reality”, as well as differences between "ideology "and "practice” in evaluating reforms. International diffusion of measuring techniques and methodologies can be interpreted both as an attempt to test and refine theories across different institutional and social settings, as well as a "socialisation instrument” for governments aiming to position themselves in an international setting.

The attempts to take stock of the success of reforms (however defined) can be interpreted as an endeavour towards speaking truth to power. There are different ways of attaining that objective, with different degree of success. It is challenging to envisage innovative ways to address that diversity in order to learn of each other’s experiences, academics and practitioners alike.

 
Activities in 2013

Meeting of the Working Group on Public Administration Reform
WG Programme Coordinators:

Veronica Junjan, University of Twente, School of Management and Governance, Enschede, Netherlands

Diana-Camelia Iancu, National School of Political Studies and Public Administration, Faculty of Public Administration, Bucharest, Romania

Place:  The 21st NISPAcee Annual Conference, Belgrade, Serbia
Date:  May 16-18, 2013
 
The topics that were covered were as follows: PAR theory, PAR stimuli, PAR actors, PAR instruments and PAR as social innovation.
 
The focus of the Working Group was based on investigations concerning formation and administrative organisations and institutions, the development and restructuring of intergovernmental relations, and organisational learning concerning (inter(governmental co-operation within the framework of EU integration, European Neighbourhood Policy, as well as external and regional co-operation with the states in Central Asia.
 

 
 
 
 
 
Activities in 2012

Meeting of the Working Group on Public Administration Reform
WG Programme Coordinators:

Michiel de Vries, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Veronica Junjan, University of Twente, School of Management and Governance, Enschede, Netherlands

Diana-Camelia Iancu, National School of Political Studies and Public Administration, Faculty of Public Administration, Bucharest, Romania

Place: The 20th NISPAcee Annual Conference, Ohrid, Republic of Macedonia
Date:  May 23-26, 2012
 
The theme of the 20th NISPAcee Annual conference in Ohrid brought in a very high level of interest within the WG IV PAR in CEECA. With an acceptance rate of about 40%, we selected 17 papers which were all presented during the four sessions assigned to our group. The papers were grouped into sessions, according to the following central themes: Comparative perspectives; Stakeholder perspectives; Normative issues and Solutions. We enjoyed a constant and active audience of about 20 participants per session. The participants, academics and practitioners alike, engaged in lively discussions, where practical experiences, perspectives, and theoretical frameworks were carefully analysed.
 

Three broad conclusions can be drawn, based on the discussions. First, there should be more attention being paid to the use and adjustment of theoretical frameworks to the local specific and institutional context of the CEECA region. The results obtained, following the research presented, should be more clearly fed back into the current theories, which would imply increasing efforts to publish and become involved in international discussions. Second, we were happy to have good quality papers presented by practitioners active in the region. They provided useful reality checks for academics, as well as a promising beginning for a dialogue between academics and practitioners, which will hopefully lead to enhancing learning on both sides. Third, the issue of measuring reform came to the fore as very significant for both communities involved. In this sense, methodological issues in constructing indicators, unintended consequences of measurement and implementation issues were considered during discussions.

 

Based upon these conclusions, we intend to focus the Call for 2013 to address and explore further these issues.


 
Activities in 2011

Meeting of the Working Group on Public Administration Reform
WG Programme Coordinators:

Michiel de Vries, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Veronica Junjan, University of Twente, School of Management and Governance, Enschede, Netherlands

Place: The 19th NISPAcee Annual Conference, Varna, Bulgaria
DateMay 19-22, 2011
 

The topics that were covered were as follows: comparative studies, theoretical studies, and three sessions with case studies, grouped according to regional criteria i.e. Central Asia, Caucasus, Eastern Europe, then the Balkans area, and Central Europe (EU countries). As to the discussions within the sessions, the participants and presenters discussed the relative impact of contextual factors and external pressure, the role of leadership and colleagues, the attempts in different countries to increase public administration, the different ways to solve implementation problems, problems of public integrity, and the extent to which EU membership has changed any inclination to reforms.

 

The session on Central Asia was particularly well attended this year, benefitting from the participation of a large part of the members of the delegation of Afghan academics. The ensuing discussion emphasised the relevance of sharing reciprocal experiences between Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia in addressing the challenges of reforming public administration.

 
The clear guidance on how the papers should be structured and the coherence in themes addressed by the authors makes it feasible to produce an edited book with the best papers on PA reform in a large variety of countries. The plan is to collaborate with the coordinators of some of the other working groups to produce an edited volume on Public Administration Reform in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Papers addressing this topic were, for instance, also delivered for the working groups on Local Government, the group on Policy Analysis and within the General Session.

The Best Comparative Paper presented at the Conference was presented to the winners Veronica Junjan, University of Twente, The Netherlands, and Diana-Camelia Iancu, National School of Political Studies and Public Administration, Romania for their paper "Post EU accession reforms in Central and Eastern European countries: Who will (continue to) bother?”.


 

Activities in 2010

Meeting of the Working Group on Public Administration Reform
WG Programme Coordinators:

Michiel de Vries, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Veronica Junjan, University of Twente, School of Management and Governance, Enschede, Netherlands

Place: 18th NISPAcee Annual Conference, Warsaw, Poland

Date: May 12-14, 2010


During the conference of 2010 was the second meeting of Working Group. 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 was 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.

 

 
Activities in 2009

Meeting of the Working Group on Public Administration Reform
WG Programme Coordinators:

Michiel de Vries, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Veronica Junjan, University of Twente, School of Management and Governance, Enschede, Netherlands

Place: 17th NISPAcee Annual Conference, Budva, Montenegro
Date: May 14-16, 2009
 
The new established WG met for the first time. The discussions concentrated on the factors of success and failure of Public Administrative Reform and the divergence and convergence of developments in CEE and CA. The papers gave very good descriptions of what is happening and has happened in different regions. We went from the Baltics to the Balkans and from Central Europe to Eastern Europe and to Central Asia. Although the explanations for success and failure are broad, there are some similarities. These are the importance of the context and common inheritance of CEE and CA countries and especially, as one participant mentioned, the role of officials as and executive for the elite; the previous denial of the importance of competence; the previous absence of a merit system and the previous lack of a public service. Many things have improved, but not quickly enough.

 

In the working group we discussed the causes: These were partly found in the existing conflicts: conflicts between external pressure to reform and path dependencies; conflicts of interest within public organizations, and a lack of skills, knowledge and attitudes within the public sector. At the same time, it was acknowledged that, in part, problems are unavoidable, that the transition seen in public administration reform in CEE and CA is characterised by trying to move from one extreme (State) to the other (Market) and, of course, one ends up somewhere in between (Administrative market) and that somewhere in between is a typical hybrid. This is difficult and complex to manage under adverse circumstances, suffering from the various views of the influential actors on the organisation and strong conflicts within the organisation, at the same time a lack of skills, outside arrogance and varying internal support results in enforced changes that no-one really supports. The preliminary problem, as identified, seems to be that where one needs a simple structured organisation in PA, complex organisations are created.

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