The public sector is in the midst of transformation. New forms of public sector management, new approaches to service delivery and new technologies are changing how the public sector operates. This has created the need for new methods to promote and ensure accountability by both agencies and governments. Additionally, preserving the trust of citizens in government while also devolving the public sector, ensuring conformity with government policy objectives, controlling expenditure, and monitoring performance have all become increasingly important and challenging.
The Global Forum on Governance provided an opportunity for participating countries to share their reform experiences in government modernisation and policies aimed at increasing public sector efficiencies. The Forum aims built dialogue and provided the international policy community with insight into key policy efforts undertaken in pubilc sector modernisation.
It focused on key priority areas selected for their importance in achieving overall system change, including regulatory reform and administrative simplification, public service delivery and performance, multi-level governance and decentralisation, open government and e-government. Through thematic working groups participants had the chance to exchange best practices. The Forum concluded with a dynamic panel dedicated to a discussion of the political economy of reform.
The Forum also offered the chance to gain a deeper understanding of how reform can be approached and how different institutional, economic and cultural settings impact its successful design and implementation.
The Forum consisted of four working groups as outlines below:
Working Group 1:
Regulatory reform, administrative simplification and the public private interface
Regulatory reform can help lift investment in public services and widen consumer choice. This Working Group discussed the issue of regulatory authorities in specific sectors, involving a key discussion at political level of the challenges of delegating powers to regulatory authorities. The session discussed the need to develop a more coherent and stable institutional framework to ensure the public private interface, and also increase investors' and public confidence. The goal is to ensure predictability and certainty for economic actors and citizens, while guaranteeing transparency and coherence of public policy objectives attainment in a long-term framework.
Regulatory reform is a dynamic process affecting policies, institutions, and tools, a whole of government approach, and multi-level co-operation. In a second sub-session, the session discussed a quality regulation approach, both for new regulations and for old regulations, involving tools for administrative simplifications. The goal is to address the burden of heavy regulations. "Command and control" intervention may be inefficient and administrative burdens may be costly and stifle entrepreneurship calling for a more flexible and decentralised approach. Administrative simplification can also help to increase trust in government, through greater simplicity, transparency and consultation with citizens and businesses. The public sector needs a change of culture to be more service-oriented.
Working Group 2:
Public Service Delivery and Performance: Reforming human resource and budget management systems
Countries are under increased pressure to improve public sector performance and to be more accountable for results. Over the past two decade, the many governments have sought to shift the emphasis of budgeting and management away from inputs towards a focus on measurable results. While the content, pace, and method of implementation of these reforms varies across countries and over time, they share a central aim to improve decision making by providing better quality and more concrete information on the performance of agencies and programmes. Despite this widespread shift, countries continue to face a number of challenges with respect to the development and use of performance information in management and budget processes, including: how to improve the use of performance information in budgetary and management decision making; how and if performance information should be related to resources; how to improve the measurement of activities; how to improve the quality of information; how to get politicians to use the information in decision making ; how to create a results-oriented culture.
Working Group 3:
Multi-level Governance: Challenges and opportunities for effective policy-making in the context of decentralisation
Increasingly, public responsibilities are devolved to lower levels of government – in unitary as well as in federal countries – often with a view to improving the efficiency of public service provision and to favouring economic development. Local and regional governments also want a greater say in the setting and implementation of national policy measures. Such trends have helped make the management and governance of public policies more complex and demanding, involving multiple (public and private) actors and requiring a rethinking of how central and sub-national governments should collaborate. Promoting regional development requires mechanisms for associating decision making and implementation of different levels of government. Mechanisms based on performance of sub national levels will be discussed in this working group.
Working Group 4
Improving Citizen-Government Interface
The great degree of interactivity offered by new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has the potential to expand the scope, depth and quality of government interactions with citizens and other key stakeholders. ICT can ease the life of citizens by allowing personalised access to information or services online 24/7 through dedicated portals. ICT can also offer a number of tools to governments to include citizens’ views and suggestions on policy issues including, for example, government online discussion forums. At the same time, such new online tools pose significant challenges to governments in terms of their technical, political and institutional implications. One of these challenges is ensuring wide access to these new tools for all citizens. Another challenge is to ensure that the results of online consultation processes feed into the decision-making process. Starting from concrete international practices and examples from invited countries, this Working Group will explore the challenges and opportunities of ICT use in providing better services to citizens and engage them in policy-making.