Local is also public: Lessons learned from the “reforms”

In the public administration reform process, local self-governments are lagging behind the state-level administration in the fields of accountability, transparency and human resources management. This analysis therefore seeks to look at the local self-government reform as addressed by the official strategic actions, and to indicate the gaps in the existing approach to local-level reforms.

The key strategic framework in this area consists of the 2016-2020 Public Administration Reform (PAR) Strategy, which contains a special chapter on local self-government, and the 2018-2020 Public Administration Optimisation Plan. The Strategy set eight targets related to local self-governments.

This paper will try to establish to what extent these targets have been met. Section one provides an overview of the results of the optimisation, i.e. adjustment of staff numbers at the local level to meet the targets. Section two provides an overview of local government finance, aiming to check the extent of fulfilment of the financial indicators set in the relevant strategic documents.

Lastly, the paper suggests that excessive hiring and unsustainable public finance, which have been identified as burning issues in the existing strategic documents, remain priority challenges at the local level; however, on the basis of available experience, the paper highlights the lessons learned and provides recommendations for better implementation of reforms at the local level.

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