With wide interest from several dozens of registered participants, the inaugural meeting of the Local Public Sector Alliance’s Expert Working Group on Europe and Central Asia took place on November 21, 2022. The working group is co-chaired by Adrian Ionescu, Jelena Janevska, Gábor Péteri, and Glendal Wright. At the meeting, following the introduction of LPSA, the discussion on future activities targeted three main topics:
Topic 1. Decentralization for better public service provision
As decentralization is not a goal in itself, the implications on local public service provision should be studied. Access to services is the key question, especially when public services are not available in some parts of a country or they are provided only by the private sector. In public service provision accountability through customer control is critical. Local governments are able to ensure this citizen centered approach in service management.
Beyond the basic question of how decentralization creates benefits for service users, other research topics might be specified, as well. How new, untypical local services, like disaster risk management works, whether perception of service users could be a measure of decentralization, how to translate the quantitative and qualitative information collected by various LPSA tools on decentralization to improved public service management? Testing diverse service management models (through case studies, pilots, sectoral analysis) will help to assess alternative options of decentralization.
Topic 2. Local finances
Classical topics of intergovernmental fiscal relations, such as transfer models and grant allocation techniques should be analyzed. On the revenue side of decentralization, it is a rarely used argument that with devolved service provision and tangible outputs for citizens, the tax morale (willingness to pay taxes) can be also improved.
Topic 3. Political and administrative reforms
Local implication of public administration reforms should be assessed, as it is often neglected by the centrally initiated restructuring programs.
Political aspects of decentralization is critical in countries with autocratic governments. Here decentralization is about giving up power. The question is why would this type of leadership destroy its own power base and the centralized government system created.
What is next for the Expert Working Group in the ECA region?
Brainstorming at the first Expert Working Group meeting showed the huge diversity of issues in local public service provision across the ECA region. The future activities of the Working Group aim to reflect this great variety of problems and approaches to decentralization.
We encourage LPSA members and others with an interest in decentralization and local governance in Europe and Central Asia to join the ECA Region Working Group by opting-in to the working group as part of your free LPSA Membership registration.
As the Expert Working Group co-chairs work to prepare the groups work plan for 2023, we further invite the interested members to propose topics for the usual activities implemented under the umbrella of LPSA. They might include:
- joint research and publication initiatives
- executive training
- expert forum
But we are also interested hearing about your articles published, consulting or advisory activities completed, either at national level or for supporting specific cities. Alternatively if you just raise a question, relevant for your present work and want to hear others’ opinion, then it is perfectly fine.
Here are some proposed topics to initiate the Expert Working Group planning process:
- Where is the borderline between delegated and devolved public services? What are the critical components of public service management in a multi-level governance system?
- How do local governments adapt to the increased special demand for local service or the new trends in service provision, especially related to digitalization of services?
- How did the relations of local governments with private service providers change during the past decade? What are the new rules of public-private partnership in the typical municipal services
- National and local governments often target the same revenue base. How personal income tax, taxes on value added or corporate income can be shared between the two tiers? What are the lessons from taxing local businesses?
Looking forward to receiving ideas from the larger community of practice and to hearing about your initiatives for joint activities!
For any questions about LPSA’s Expert Working Group in the ECA region, please contact the Working Group co-chairs (Adrian Ionescu, Jelena Janevska, Gábor Péteri, and Glen Wright) at firstname.lastname@example.org.