Association of Public Administrators in Romania

The Results of an Experimental Project of Good Governance – Practice from the Netherlands Applied in Romanian Local Public Administration

Bucharest, the 27th of March 2015

Politican decision-makers run with electoral platforms in the polls so as to be invested by the citizens with the mandate of running and coordinating a community. The local public administration puts in practice the political decisions and allows the functioning of an administrative aparatus that is efficient and nondiscriminatory. Citizens, on the other hand, legitimize through voting their representatives, delegate decision power to them and can reinvest or sanction the political decision makers based on the services and public goods that they provide and facilitate. Simplyfied, this is how a good governance relation looks like between three types of actors: citizens, public administrations and politicians.

In practice, the results of our project show a different reality for the Romanian context. The project consisted in working in each of the five municipalities (Sector 3 București, Piatra Neamț, Medgidia, Satu-Mare and Prundeni in Vâlcea county) in small team led by a Dutch expert and the public administrator or a delegated public servant. The project’s efforts were focused on implementing a method that works throughout the Netherlands: the policy instrument (PMI).

Each town hall from those mentioned above has chosen a real case where to implement PMI in. Piatra Neamt opted for the field of tourism, Satu-Mare for infrastructure, Medgidia for using PMI in the facilitation the building of an industrial park, Sector 3 Bucharest for setting-up a students’ center for information technology, Prundeni experimented PMI for its whole activity.

The experimental project met both problems that feed the assumption that may be systematic for Romania but in the same time identified some strong points of the local public administration. On the shortcomings side, the following are worth mentioning:

The agenda of the conference is as follows:

  • Lack of transparency and transfer of the electoral promises of politicians in policy documents, programs and public policies whose implementation to be followed in terms of level of completion and costs. For example, in the context of a limited local budget, do we know what it implies to allocate more funds for schools or for road building? Do we - as citizens and public servants - know what are the categories of expenses that get more funding and which are the ones that get least? Do we take informed decisions when talking about what is funded by the city’s own budget or the EU funds or are these decisions opaque and politicized?
  • The local development strategies are developed in “parallel” worlds and are focused excessively on potential funding, respectively on EU’s financial support. Moreover, the causality between some projects and their economic and social effects is assumed and not proven, so there is the risk of spending funds for useless projects that never touch their aim but only feed corruption. Lagging behind in working with updated data from the field is also a problem that worsens the effect of low professionalism and the lack of local development strategies. (Example of questions that did not received an answer easily: did the participants in a qualification training find jobs after the program? Does the town hall have funds for supporting EU funded projects after their financial support ends? What is the proportion of the income that the new companies would contribute to the local budget if an industrial park is set up? Will company even be interested in moving in?).

On the strong points side, it is worth mentioning the openess of the politics but public servants as well towards new approaches and experimentation, awareness on the arbitrary and politicization of the decisions at local level and need for reform for the further professionalization and increase in accountability of the local bureaucracy and politicians.

Presently, the mentioned town halls implements on a voluntary basis in different degrees the policy management instrument (PMI). For further details access
The project “Applying PMI in Romania” is ran by BMC - a public administration consultancy in the Netherlands – and the Association of City Managers in Romania and is financed by the Foreign Affairs Ministry in the Netherlands.