Public Administration, Local Governance & Participation: Actors & Activities
InsidersCentral and local authorities
The authorities are often elected though, at times, they are appointed officials, at the national and local level. These include Mayors, Councils, Committees and Ombudsmen.2
Civil (public) servants
Civil (also known as public) servants are civilian government employees who earn positions based on merit. They make up the core of various government departments and agencies, and on this basis, are the channels through which public policy are actuated.
Civil Society & Community Based Organizations
They are responsible to garner and disseminate information; engage the population in deliberation; and also often serve as intermediary between population and government. These organizations may be grouped according to type:
Where the public administration does not have the capacity to engage in a fully participatory process, as is often true in post-conflict environments, civil society, community based organizations, and other NGOs can provide project support and deliberate with populations; sometimes, these groups serve as a total substitute and implement public policies. The comparative advantage of these groups is that they are generally thought to be closer to the people they serve. In this system, administrators play the roles of convener, founder (generally with funds coming from outside), and watchdog; sometimes even crafting actual partnerships. Ideally, local authorities and administrators should gradually serve as mediators, catalysts in consultative processes, as well as technical assistance providers with the aim of supporting a capacity building process.3
The collaboration with the private sector is often related to the fact that business firms deliver local services such as clean water, transportation management, electricity, or garbage collection. "But the foundation of these relationships is one of economics; business firms can deliver services as efficiently as and more cheaply than local authorities."4 Increasingly, the private sector is also invited to participate in forums to examine governance issues.
In order to be most successful, local governance would ideally involve all groups of stakeholders. In view of their difference in interests, "this means that governance includes cooperation, competition, and conflict management. The main issue for governance is whether it constitutes a new paradigm of how to solve common problems and create win-win situations for all stakeholders."5
OutsidersInternational financial institutions
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) provide the funding and develop frameworks and indicators that are very widely recognized and used by other donors. Often these indicators are tied to normative values, which influence funding, and have been criticized for adversely influencing reforms, which were not appropriate to context.
Multilateral and bilateral organizations
See the section Transitional Administration/Authorities below
International non-governmental organizations (INGOs)
Even more than multilateral and bilateral aid agencies, the involvement of INGOs is project-based. They may be involved through civic education and hosting of participatory platforms and support to local governance programs through training. Various anti-corruption and governance indicators have also been developed by different non-governmental institutes in the United States, included political party organizations such as International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES)6, National Democratic Institute (NDI)7, International Republican Institute (IRI). In Europe similar institutes exist such as the German party-based Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES),8Transparency International (TI), etc. These organizations generally work in partnership with local organizations. Link to civil society subsection
Academic institutions are also increasingly involved in governance, in particular through research and analysis as well as training programs. Illustrations of such involvement include Central European University9, Institute of Local Government Studies at the University of Birmingham, MegaCities Project at the City University of New York.10
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[Back to Top] Public administration and civil service reforms are intimately linked, which explains why practitioners often conflate these terms, using them as interchangeable. Public administration reform actually entails a more comprehensive process, of which civil (public) service reform is just one important component.14
Issues in civil service reformCivil service reform (CSR) itself "implies developing the capacity of the civil service to fulfill its mandate, defined to include issues of recruitment and promotion, pay, number of employees, performance appraisal and related matters."15 Four key issues are generally associated with the civil service reform:
Components of civil service reformWithin that frame of reference, a number of components in the reform of civil (public) service are generally emphasized:
Mission setting and articulating goals and responsibilities is a vital first step; this is particularly important in post-war environment as it requires articulating a shared vision for the public administration reform process, and also entails (re)defining what is expected from each component of the public administration.17 This vision should also facilitate the design of an appropriate boundary between the political and administrative spheres. This requires not only the involvement but the 'buy-in' of local political leaders who may have polarized views of how public administration should be formed and also be bereft of both administrative capabilities and administrative capacity. As noticed by many observers, "well versed in the politics of conflict, [local leaders] are less familiar with the rules of the humdrum practicalities of basic administration."18 Establishing a shared vision for public administration, therefore, may appear to be quite complicated, but it is important to tend towards such an agreement so that the only existing vision is not the one designed (or imposed with varying degrees of impact) by outsiders.
The other dimension of mission setting has to do with the views citizens have of the State and public administration, and what kind of services they expect from such structures (which may include providing them a job if this is the model they have known). This means that public education programs may need to address such dimensions and modifications. For instance, citizen guides are developed as reference booklets to inform the population (and elected officials) about how local government is to operate, as well as to advise on what the role of different departments are within government, to provide information on relevant laws applicable in different areas, and so forth.19 Community radio programs are also developed around such themes. Link to media subsection In some countries, regular qualitative public opinion research is undertaken to give a better understanding of citizen perspectives on the post-conflict state apparatus. Even on the part of the local non-governmental sector (profit and non-profit), a change of culture is often needed.
Functional reviews in public administrative reform involve a range of strategic activities to help promote ownership of reform and an opportunity to propose comparative examples for strategic policy and reform choices. Support to these activities aims to balance the goals of sizing the civil service adequately, enhancing gains in efficiency and effectiveness.20 One main obstacle to a rationalization of the public administration is the fact that peace agreements are often crafted on the basis of some sort of power-sharing, which may induce the multiplication of ministries and administrations to accommodate the different parties to the agreement. This also presents a challenge in mitigating the accommodation of traditional authorities, as has been the case in Sierra Leone and South Africa. In such instances, responsibilities are often ill-defined between chiefdoms and recently erected local governance structures. Hence, when maintaining customs, definition of roles is paramount.
Link with case studies on Sierra Leone and South Africa
Immediate (re) establishment of systems for the management of public finance is important for the functioning of the state apparatus and the administrative sector. This includes determining means of generating revenue, and managing expenditures as well. From a revenue generation perspective, needs encompass setting up tax and tariffs, means of managing revenue from natural resources (where applicable), establishing state-owned enterprise and public-private partnerships where needed to deliver services, and instituting policies to govern the central bank and monetary policy. In managing expenditures, needs include design and allocation of budgets, determining a management system, assessing sectors for public investment, decentralizing fiscal governance (where appropriate), and building institutional capacities.
Civil service management functions are rooted in establishing "who is employed by the public sector, to perform which tasks, and how much they are being paid."21 From there, different choices need to be made in order to rebuild a civil service that is able to resist corruption and political intrusion, and is able to facilitate key decisions without catering to parochial interests. Some choices are in regard to:
It is further helpful to promote information and communication technology (ICT) use, in order "to enhance the effectiveness, openness and the accessibility of public sector services."27 Whereas most reports on public administration refers to the emergence of Digital Era Governance, E-governance (DEG), most post-conflict countries are not yet at that stage; even key ministries may be under-equipped and equipped in a an unsustainable way (for instance, equipment may be given but no means for its maintenance).
Link to new media
[Back to Top] see political reintegration).28 It also poses the question of administrative capabilities and administrative capacity of that leadership.29
One mechanism often employed in post-communist countries, albeit in significant contrast to its use in post-World War II Germany and Japan and, more recently, in Iraqi de-Baathification, is the process of vetting and lustration. There is some conflation of the terms, as vetting is defined "as screening of individuals based on past memberships, positions, or affiliations, and their subsequent removal from office or from other bureaucratic or academic positions"30 and lustration "refers to a means by which some countries deal with a legacy of human rights abuses: through the mass disqualification of those associated with the abuses under the prior regime."31 For the purposes of clarity, lustration may be understood as a particular form of vetting, largely used in Central and Eastern Europe after the collapse of Communism.
Depending on the context, full-vetting of the public administration may not be plausible. Vetting mechanisms include: vetting all or certain positions, reviewing and reappointing serving employees, and vetting serving employees or external candidates.32 Procedural recommendations to establish a locally appropriate vetting option include:
Go to Judicial & Legal Reforms subsection and SSR subsection
It is critical, when utilizing vetting, to tailor it to contextual nuances. As mentioned, completely vetting the public administration may be impossible a) where there is an insufficient governance capability remaining, b) where doing so would marginalize and potentially radicalize outlier groups, c) where there is the possibility of wrongful vetting. The case of Iraq demonstrates a strong example where vetting was inappropriately constructed. With relatively weak administration in the state, hard-line exclusion of former Baathists has only radicalized those excluded, a system which many experts now feel needs amending.35
More broadly, and even less addressed by most programs, the reconciliation issue is intimately linked to local governance as it poses the question of the actual values and belief systems upon which basis a community is re-inventing the rules that will regulate the collective life, i.e. its forms of governance.
[Back to Top] 36 The common presumption is that such devolvement of government functions will allow for more participation by a larger number of actors. There are three broad types of decentralization political (which takes the form of devolution), administrative (which takes the form of deconcentration or delegation), and fiscal (which may take the form of divestiture).37
Administrative decentralizationAdministrative decentralization deals with the reallocation of decision-making authority for public services to lower levels of government, thus rendering the local administration responsible for mobilizing resources and delivering services.
This encapsulates two processes:
Political decentralizationPolitical decentralization on the other hand, does not deal with reallocation of civil service positions, service delivery, etc, but rather refers to the devolution of political power to sub-national levels, instilling political decision-making power in various locally elected government bodies. Processes of devolution can go as far as full federalism, in which the state is divided into autonomous units, each holding full responsibility and decision-making power on resources and revenue generation, as distinct in these functions from the central government.40
Fiscal decentralizationWhile economic forms of decentralization are vital to decentralization as a whole, they are largely dealt with in the section on public finance and economic governance. It is worth noting that, in many cases, fiscal decentralization may be particularly useful in the medium-term. When the ability of the national government to build its tax base and expand public services remains low, local governments may be better able to collect contributions from community members who see direct results for their money in order to provide for basic services.
An overview of fiscal decentralization
Fiscal decentralization, inherently more conducive to transparency due to its direct link with quantifiable budgetary systems and financial exchange, refers to the resource reallocation to sub-national levels of government. Arrangements for resource allocation are often negotiated between the central and local authorities based on several factors including interregional equity, availability of resources at all levels of government and local fiscal management capacity. Experience in fiscal decentralisation has led to capacity building in expenditure and revenue assignment as well as the design of fiscal transfer formulas and sub-national borrowing.41 This is often done through divestment: planning and administrative responsibility or other public functions are transferred from government to voluntary, private or non-governmental institutions with clear benefits to and involvement of the public. This often involves contracting out partial service provision or administrative functions, deregulation or full privatisation.42
Within fiscal decentralization, there has been a growing encouragement of resource redistribution mechanisms. This is critical for states with specific regions that are naturally wealthy, while other areas of the country are scant in such resources. However, lack of significant governance channels, and capture of profits from resources (for example in the Niger Delta) have fueled tensions over resource redistribution. It is vital to note that when dealing with such mechanisms they must be tailored to context. A legitimate public administration and local government apparatus is vital. However, it is additionally important to scale redistribution to the quantity of resources, as some countrys endowments of resources are not sufficient for redistribution. Populations local to extractive areas may feel disenfranchised if they are not seeing sufficient gains from exploitation in their regions. Detailed budgetary planning, monitoring, and legitimacy must be entrenched for these systems to function.43 Indeed, the very nature of this form of decentralization is particularly prone to rent-seeking. As such, the World Bank has devised a set of Fiscal Decentralization Indicators.44 However, difficulties remain with such tools, as inherently, though dealing specifically with a financial measure, identifying broad indicators still remains a difficult task.
The typology used here is often employed, though it is not the sole means of approaching and dividing types and properties of decentralization. For instance, some splits the notion into deconcentration, delegation, devolution, and delocalization, wherein the last refers to "the spatial distribution of central government socio-economic development facilities and activities such as schools, hospitals, etc in peripheral regions."45 While it is useful to note that these variations exist in order to fully comprehend the significance of prescriptions put forth, for the purposes of clarity in this paper, the definitions laid out in this section shall be employed.
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[Back to Top] 47 Such systems can be associated with all institutional reforms, including that of public administration and civil service.48 Various institutions working on issues of anti-corruption have begun implementing programs on this basis. Such activities consist of different equally important components aiming at bolstering an overall environment of national public integrity:49
Anti-corruption initiatives also include revenue transparency initiatives, which advocate for transparency in payments and earnings between public service and extractive industry companies (see for example, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Publish What You Pay Campaign). Indexes on governance and corruption have also been proliferating (see for instance the World Bank and Transparency International).
Go to natural resource management and public finance and economic governance
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Models of participationParticipation entails a deliberative process, beginning from the bottom-up. This model serves to contrast the dominant public administration paradigm of New Public Management, which relies on a top-down policy package. There is broad agreement that participation is a way to ensure ownership of the process and also to enhance the accountability of national and local administrations. But the concrete modalities of such participation are often less clear, and vary greatly between contexts.
A critical element is always to determine who should be included in the process, at different stages of the peacemaking process. This is true in particular for former armed groups, for which several issues must be addressed. First, former armed leaders often do not function well as administrators; their inclusion generally supposes a stronger role played by international actors.52 Second, it is also vital to understand and appreciate their motives and also to develop different systems of incentives (inclusion) and marginalization (exclusion) for these groups.53 Finally, such issues bring about questions as to whether inclusion would preclude justice for crimes committed during civil war. Aside from this key paradox, questions need also to be raised regarding which components of civil society should be selected and why; indeed, there might a tendency to invite a limited number of NGO leaders who are not necessarily representative of a significant section of the population.
Go to debate: political transformation of former military actors and Peace vs. Justice
In the larger peacebuilding process, two categories of policies and fundamental choices can enhance the participation of local population and as a consequence of local democracy.
Civic education and citizen participationIn post-war environments, civic education is a primary mechanism for enhancing citizen participation, a process that begins and is generally viewed as potentially most effective at the local governance level.55 The preparation of the first post-war elections are often a key moment in this civic education campaign. The programs initiated in that context include training workshops, organization of public forums, local NGO training, media campaigns (in particular through community radios), the distribution of citizen guides and leaflets.
In the DRC, various civil society groups translated and disseminated copies of the national constitution in the lead up to presidential elections in order to inform local populations of their rights and roles.56 In South Sudan, the National Democratic Institute is utilizing community radios as a forum to provide information, and is engaged in a focus group project, meant to gauge civic responses to local political realities.57 Many projects of this kind are developed in different countries, and have been considered useful in promoting civic education for citizen participation in peacebuilding initiatives.58 But their actual impact is not always easy to assess.
Go to electoral processes and political parties; media and reconciliation
1. Goran Hyden, Julius Court and Kenneth Mease, Making Sense of Governance: The Need for Involving Local Stakeholders (London: Overseas Development Institute, 2003).
2. T. Sisk et al. eds., Democracy at the Local Level: The International IDEA Handbook on Participation, Representation, Conflict Management and Governance (Stockholm: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), 2001), 12.
3. Ibid., 12, 22.
4. Ibid., 22.
5. Keng-Ming Hsu and Chun-Yuan Wang, The Institutional Design and Citizen Participation in Local Governance, (In Jak Jabes ed. Selected Papers from the Launching Conference of the Network of Asia-Pacific Schools and Institutes of Public Administration and Governance, The Role of Public Administration in Alleviating Poverty and Improving Governance, Kuala-Lumpur, Malaysia, December 6-8, 2004), 335.
6. Joseph J. Foy, From Civil War to Civil Society: Lessons from the IFES Democratic Development Programs in Deeply Divided Societies, Washington, DC: International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), 2002), 23.
7. National Democratic Institute, Global Programs, Democratic Governance: Public Integrity.
8. Sisk et al eds., Democracy at the Local Level, 214-215.
9. Central European University/Tiri, The Public Integrity Education Network: A Joint Initiative of TIRI and the Central European University (Budapest: CEU; London: Tiri, 2004).
11. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), Unlocking the Human Potential for Public Sector Performance: World Public Sector Report 2005 (New York: United Nations, 2005), 8.
12. Ibid., 9.
13. Ibid., 8-18
14. Dennis A. Rondinelli, Reforming Public Administration in Postconflict Societies: Implications for International Assistance (Bethesda, MD: The Mitchell Group, Inc. for the United States Agency for International Development, 2006), 2.
15. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Public Administration Reform: Practice Note (New York: United Nations, 2004), 6.
17. Ibid., 7.
18. Mari Fitzduff, Cathy Gormley-Heenan and Gordon Peake, From Warlords to Peacelords: Local Leadership Capacity in Peace Processes (Ulster, UK: International Centre of Excellence for Conflict and Peace Studies (INCORE), 2004), 14.
19. See for instance the IFES programs cited in Foy, From Civil War to Civil Society.
20. Jocelyn Mason, Public Administration Reform and Local Governments (Presentation for United Nations Development Programme, The Local Government Reform Process in Europe and The CIS, Zagreb, Croatia, June 15-19, 2003), 6-8.
21. Ibid., 8.
22. Ibid., 10.
24. Ibid., 6-8.
25. Ibid., 7-8.
28. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), Governance Strategies for Post Conflict Reconstruction, Sustainable Peace and Development (New York: United Nations, 2007), 5, 14-15.
29. Fitzduff, Gormley-Heenan and Peake, From Warlords to Peacelords, 14.
30. Cynthia M. Horne, "Vetting, Lustration, and Trust Building: Doest Retroactive Justice Increase the Trustworthiness of Public Institutions?" (Prepared for delivery at the 2005 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, September 1-4, 2005). **Authors permission needed to cite.
31. Eric Brahm, "Lustration," In Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess,eds. Beyond Intractability (Boulder, Co: Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder).
32. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Vetting Public Employees in Post-conflict settings: Operational Guidelines (New York: United Nations, 2006), 15-17.
33. Ibid., 28.
35. Neil J. Kritz, Sermid al-Sarraf, and J Alexander Their, Constitutional Reform in Iraq: Improving Prospects, Political Decisions Needed (Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace,2007).
36. Anne M. Larson and Jesse C. Ribot, "Democratic Decentralisation through a Natural Resource Lens: An Introduction," European Journal of Development Research 16 no. 1 (2004), 3; and Sisk et al eds., Democracy at the Local Level, 221.
37. Robertson Work, Overview of Decentralisation Worldwide: A Stepping Stone to Improved Governance and Human Development (Presented at the United Nations Development Programme 2nd International Conference on Decentralisation, Federalism: The Future of Decentralizing States? Manila, Philippines, July 25-27, 2002), 6.
42. Ibid., 7.
43. Ibid., 4.
44. World Bank, Decentralization & Subnational Regional Economics, Fiscal Decentralization Indicators.
45. John-Mary Kauzya, Decentralization: Prospects for Peace, Democracy and Development (New York: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2005), 4.
46. Sisk et al eds., Democracy at the Local Level, 40-42.
47. Jeremy Pope, Confronting Corruption: the Elements of a National Integrity System (Berlin: Transparency International, 2000), xviii.
48. Muzong W. Kodi, Anti-Corruption Challenges in Post-Election Democratic Republic of Congo (London: The Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, 2007), 14.
49. See for example: Ibid, 14; National Democratic Institute, Global Programs, Democratic Governance: Public Integrity; Pope, Confronting Corruption: the Elements of a National Integrity System; Central European University/Tiri, "The Public Integrity Education Network."
50. See Giorgio Blundo, Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan Eds., Everyday Corruption and the State: Citizens and Public Officials in Africa, (London: Zed Books, 2006).
51. Anwar Shah, A Comparative Institutional Framework for Responsive, Responsible, and Accountable Local Governance (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2006), 16.
52. Fitzduff, Gormley-Heenan and Peake, From Warlords to Peacelords, 14.
53. Ibid., 57.
54. Sisk et al eds., Democracy at the Local Level.
55. United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Approaches to Civic Education: Lessons Learned (Washington, DC: USAID, 2002), 24.
56. Ligue Nationale pour les Elections Libres et Transperentes/National League for Free and Fair Elections, LINELIT publie et vulgarise le Projet de Constitution en franais et en 4 langues nationales, Rpublique Dmocratique du Congo (2005).
57. National Democracy Institute (NDI), Southern and Eastern Africa: Sudan.
58. USAID, Approaches to Civic Education: Lessons Learned, 24-27.