Danube Governance Hub - Vision
The „Danube Governance Hub (DGH)” supports Good Governance and Public Administration Re-form (PAR) in the Danube Region. The vision is to create the foundation for a strong public sector with high capacity based on European standards for the European Union, its members, candidate and neighbouring countries. The KDZ-Centre for Public Administration Research will act as operational office of the DGH.
Based on the EU 2020 Strategy, the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR), the SEE2020 Strategy of the Regional Cooperation Council, the Austrian Regional Strategy for the Danube Region and Western Balkans (Draft) and the European Commission`s focus on the rule of law, economic governance and public administration reform (PAR) during the enlargement process manifold preparatory activities for the creation of the DGH have already been implemented and partnerships created:
- BACID (Building Administrative Capacities in the Danube Region) funded by the Austrian De-velopment Agency and implemented by the Austrian Association of Cities and Towns (AACT) and KDZ Centre for Public Administration Research.
- CAF-Common Assessment Framework-Cooperation with Slovak Republic, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and ReSPA (Regional School for Public Administration in the Western Balkans).
- A partnership with the Priority Area 10 “Stepping up Institutional Capacity and Cooperation” of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) hosted by the City of Vienna has been initiated.
- The Conference “Public Governance as the Foundation of European Integration” in Vienna in June 2016 in partnership with the Austrian Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, the City of Vienna and the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC, Sarajevo) has been organised.
- A cooperation and exchange with the Centre of Expertise for Local Government Reform of the Council of Europe has been initiated.
The urgency for increasing governance and capacities in public administration in many countries of the Danube Region has recently been shown in the Balkan Barometer 2016 (www.rcc.int):
- Credibility of public institutions is low. Dissatisfaction with the efficiency and fairness of the public institutions continues to be high.
- Governance is perceived as the main obstacle to growth and development.
- Corruption is seen to be quite widespread.
- The business environment is not sufficiently supportive. There are complaints regarding the accessibility of information, responsiveness of the governments, and about the predictability of laws and regulations affecting businesses.
The Danube Governance Hub shall strengthen the basis for a strong public sector based on Euro-pean standards through:
- contributing to the current efforts of fostering good governance, rule of law and modernisation of public administration in the Danube Region especially by enabling public sector organisa-tions and focusing on excellent leadership;
- fostering European standards of public administration and management;
- promoting knowledge exchange and achieving synergies between relevant stakeholders deal-ing with governance topics in the region;
- drawing attention to the importance of coordination between national, regional and local level as basis for a strong public sector;
- focusing on Open Government, Transparency and cooperation with civil society and
- contributing to the European Integration process in the Danube Region/Western Balkans.
The planned activities of the Danube Governance Hub are:
- exchanging experiences on good governance, rule of law and public administration reform with focus on EU-Integration between EU and non-EU countries;
- promoting European tools for PAR & Governance, e.g. CAF, ELoGE;
- promoting the Principles of Good Governance adopted by the Committee of Ministers of CoE;
- acting as contact-point, mediator and facilitator for governance tasks and requests;
- initiating, coordinating and implementing studies, trainings & cooperation programmes;
- offering sustainable mentorings, study visits, conferences, publications;
- observing and developing relevant governance indicators in the Danube Region and
- reporting on status quo of selected aspects of governance and public administration reform.
First steps to be implemented:
- obtaining further commitment of Austrian representatives (Eg. Federal Chancellery);
- positioning of Austria as Danube Governance Hub;
- setting up means of public relation (web, social media, press, leaflets, corporate identity);
- coordinating and making visible the governance activities of Austrian institutions;
- elaboratoring the DGH-strategy with Austrian and regional stakeholders;
- institutionalising cooperation with partners from the Danube Region (e.g. RCC, ResPA, NGOs);
- and establishing partnership with European institutions.
Mission Statement of the Danube Governance Hub
Sustained governance and public administration reform efforts are the key to economic development, democratic governance and boost European integration.
The Danube Governance Hub pursues the following objectives:
- Strengthening European Values and Instruments of Public Management
Even though the European Union has no competences in organisational matters of public administra-tion in the member states, there are several instruments developed and networks established for pro-moting good public governance: the European Commission Better Regulation Initiative, the Toolbox for Public Administration Reform (DG Employment), macro-regional strategies, Common Assessment Framework (CAF), European Public Sector Award (EPSA), European Public Administration Network (EUPAN). On the other side, during the EU accession process the defined set of principles of public administration (SIGMA) is required from the candidate countries and the progress regularly measured. A more comprehensive approaches for modernisation of public administration within the members of the European Union AND the candidate and neighbouring countries are needed. Consistency and coherence of tools and instruments as well as of assistance projects promoting good governance and providing guidance for public administration reform need to be ensured. The lack of consistency tends to undermine the effectiveness of international assistance. It also undermines the legitimacy of the tools and, generally, the sustainability of reforms. Therefore common European stand-ards and values for good governance and the management of public sector organisations are required. Only European standards and values ensure the sustainability, durability and positive impact of public administration reforms.
- Initiating a forum for exchange on public administration instruments and strategies
In order to harmonize European standards and values the manifold actors and stakeholders need to initiate an open dialogue about the expected developments of public sector, public sector organisations, public management and state governance. Even though the promoted principles include the constant areas (strategic directions, policy development, human resource management, public financial management, accountability, service delivery), at this stage parallel work with minor communication be-tween all relevant actors can be observed. Also the local ownership of reforms is low developed due to minor involvement of local stakeholders or weak bottom-up approaches. The good example that could be used as role model for further discussions of European values and standards in public administration is the Common Assessment Framework (CAF), the 12 Principles of Good Governance of the Council of Europe or the quality management tool for the public sector based on European standards, developed by an experts group of IPSG (Innovative Public Service Group) composed of practitioners and experts of national states and European institutions. Similar to this model, the Danube Governance Hub aims to be a forum for a general exchange on instruments, strategies and the values behind in the Danube Region.
- Recognising the essential role of local governments
The important role of local and regional governments in public administration reform is underestimated. In negotiations with the European Commission and EU-Council of Ministers the national governments are the official and sole partners. Often subnational governments are not involved or actively informed about potential impact of these negotiations for areas of their competences. Nevertheless local and regional governments have the closest ties to the citizens and businesses. Municipal services directly affect the life quality of the citizens and public governance in general which is essential for trust in the public sector and state. Therefore the better involvement of local and regional government representatives has been identified as success factor for sustainable public administration reform and European integration.
- Improving public sector organisations by implementing pilot projects
Public administration reforms are commonly based on strategies and programmes for comprehensive state modernisation: while this top-down approach is necessary element of the process, it should be complemented by concrete, pilot modernisation projects in selected public sector organisations. These modernisations projects operate as role models making public administration reform understandable and motivating. Results can be achieved more easily and the added value of a functioning modern public sector is made visible. Therefore emphasizing innovative modernisation projects - e.g. European Public Sector Award, European Label of Governance’ Excellence ELoGE, Label for Effective CAF User - with high potential for transferability should supplement the traditional top down approaches.
- Encouraging excellent leadership
Good Public Governance needs excellent leadership, management and human resources. Still more focus on the education, formation, recruitment and selection of public managers has to be set. The success of modernisation activities is directly connected with the quality and commitment of the leader-ship. Although this is a well-known general statement in all countries there is a strong political influence in public administration that prevents implementation of modern leadership and human resource management techniques, even though the legal framework is improved.
- Opening Government for civil society and transparency
Accountability has been perceived as one key for modern public management which prevents corruption that is still seen existing in all levels of public administration. It requires transparency and access to information supported by e-government and transparent financial management, as well as a culture of openness and participation in administration and policy decision-making. The significant contribution and power of civil society, non-governmental organisations and the general public in developing and monitoring public administration has been manifested. First steps have been set but additional effort is necessary on the way to Open Government.
- Profiting from evidence based management and policy making
Decisions have to be based on hard facts and not on dangerous half-truths or myths. This request is a core of all public management reforms since 30 years. It is still a long way to implement this principle in the administrative and state cultures of EU and candidate and neighbouring countries. Good practices of performance budgeting, quality management, monitoring through civil society etc. show the way. A further boost for evidence based management and policy making is needed.
Deputy Managing Director
KDZ-Center for Public Administration Research
Head of CAF-Center Austria
tel. +43/676/48 48 108,
www.bacid.eu; www.kdz.eu; www.caf-center.eu