Direction de la Gouvernance publique et du développement territorial

OECD Public Governance Reviews - Estonia: Towards a Single Government Approach




Executive summary | Table of contents | How to obtain this publication


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Towards a Single Government Approach

Since the restoration of independence in 1991, Estonia has met the challenge of establishing a fully functional, stable, and modern state.  This review looks at how, building on its significant accomplishments to date, the Estonian public administration can work together as a single government to improve and sustain service delivery to citizens and to meet new challenges on the horizon.


Review series

This is the third book in the series of comprehensive public governance reivews. These reviews help countries to identify how reforms can better reinforce each other in support of overall government objectives. They also examine reform strategies that have been successful in other countries and provide advice as to which reforms can be appropriately adapted to a given country context.


  Key messages


Towards a single government approach

A whole-of-government approach, where horizontal co-ordination and integration are embedded in the process of policy design and implementation, helps a government respond to complexity. While Estonia has enjoyed almost 20 years of growth, in the near future, public resources are likely to remain flat or decline as in most other OECD countries. In such a context, Estonia needs to maximise limited human and financial resources by building innovative capacity and improving the flexibility and responsiveness of its public administration so that the different parts of the public sector – including the state and sub-national government – can work as a single government to realise objectives and to prepare for new challenges.


Developing a common agenda

Identifying a common agenda that business and society can support provides a roadmap for achieving a single government approach.  Building such an agenda will help Estonia’s government balance its values with societal preferences, set objectives and priorities strategically, better understand the costs and benefits associated with specific policy programmes, and evaluate them consistently with agreed upon objectives. In this way, the public administration can optimise the use of its resources.


Delivering public services effectively


Estonia faces a series of interconnected challenges to delivering high-quality public services.  At the central level, the government is moving to consolidate “back-office” operations for its county governments, and there is an experiment underway to rationalise “front-office” activity by merging all local State representation into one physical working environment.  At the local level, however, the lack of standards, performance measures, and the mismatch between fiscal capacity and devolved responsibilities places great pressure on service provision by local governments.  Estonia cannot ignore this issue, and will need to take an integrated and innovative perspective when developing solutions. 



  Executive Summary



  Table of Contents

  • Main assessment and key recommendations
  • The role of the state following economic success
  • Public governance arrangements in Estonia
  • Promoting a whole-of-government approach
  • Building a common agenda
  • Delivering public services effectively
  • Case study 1: Estonian education – sustaining high quality schools
  • Case study 2: Social services for the elderly in Estonia



  Videos from the launch



Mario Marcel, Deputy Director, Public Governance and Territorial Development, OECD







Edwin Lau, Deputy Head of Division, Budgeting and Public Expenditures Division, Public Governance and Territorial Development, OECD  Part 1








Edwin Lau, Deputy Head of Division, Budgeting and Public Expenditures Division, Public Governance and Territorial Development, OECD  Part 2








Maria-Varinia Michalun, Policy Analyst - Public Governance Reviews, Governance Reviews and Partnerships Division, Public Governance and Territorial Development, OECD








 How to obtain this publication


Readers can access the full version of OECD Public Governance Reviews - Estonia: Towards a Single Government Approach by choosing from the following options:


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