“Participatory Strategic Governance” Project and Increasing the Governance Capacities of Local Administrations

Participatory Strategic GovernanceProject and Increasing the Governance Capacities of Local Administrations

With the negotiation process that started between Turkey and the European Union on October 3, 2005, Turkey has dedicated itself to harmonizing the EU legislation with comprehensive reform movements in various fields. One of the areas of reform draws attention as local governments.

Turkey has witnessed a significant transformation in the last ten years, with changes in governance and public administration style stemming from both internal and external factors. In this process, in which the concept of governance has changed greatly at all levels of national, regional and local governments, the development of a civil society understanding that is more willing to learn, organize and participate has necessitated a participatory and transparent management style, especially in public institutions and organizations, with local governments and non-governmental organizations.

In the context of local governments, in addition to initiatives and documents such as the European Charter of Local Self-Government, Millennium Development Goals, especially the European Union process made the creation of local, effective, efficient, transparent, participatory and accountable local governments one of Turkey’s short-term priorities. With the two reform movements that followed 2001, the functioning of local governments was also restructured within the framework of principles such as efficiency, transparency, participation and accountability.

In this transformation process, “Municipal Sector Investigation and Municipal Services” Project financed by the World Bank, “Local Agenda 21” Project financed by UNDP and Ministry of Interior, “Support to Local Government Reform Program” financed within the scope of EU-Turkey financial cooperation and “Supporting the Continuation of Local Government Reform Implementation ın Turkey” strengthened the reform process.

In this context, the “Development of Participatory Strategic Governance at Local Level” Project – briefly “Participatory Strategic Governance” Project – was implemented on 1 August 2011 as a project aiming to expand the scope of local government reform. The project, co-financed by the European Union and the Republic of Turkey, is carried out by the Ministry of Interior, General Directorate of Local Administrations. The consortium consisting of WYG Turkey (formerly DeLeeuw International), WYG International, Turkish Economic Policy Research Foundation (TEPAV) and Youth Association for Habitat, led by VNG International, provides technical support with a team consisting of key experts experienced in their fields.

The successes of the pioneering projects of the Participatory Strategic Governance Project differ from other projects, as they benefit from good practices and lessons learned, but aim to expand the scope of the reform not by focusing on the process, but by increasing the capacity of local governments to develop participatory decision-making processes.

With the project that will last for 27 months, it is aimed at:

Developing the strategic planning capacity of local governments through training of elected and appointed local administrators in the use of analytical tools;

Reinforcing the role of City Councils in local decision-making processes by ensuring the participation of representatives from non-governmental organizations;

Supporting the implementation of local government legislation in order to ensure transparency and accountability in 26 local governments in Turkey.

It is expected that the project, which will be implemented in 26 cities with a population over 100,000, will have three main outputs, namely to increase the strategic planning capacity of local governments in Turkey; to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of city councils, and to develop the participatory decision-making culture at the local level.

The activities of the project are designed under three components to achieve these results.  The first component is to increase the strategic planning capacity of local governments, which aims to strengthen the participatory strategic planning capacities of local governments and to develop and use participatory analytical tools to increase efficiency and transparency. As one of the most tangible outputs of the project, participatory analytical tools will serve as one of the most tangible outputs of the project, an effective public surveillance on the performance of local governments, not only the available and transparent data, but also the periodic analysis of the data and the awareness of the need to present the results in a user-friendly manner.

In this context, the first tool to be prepared will be Citizen Satisfaction Surveys, or Citizen Report Cards. Citizen Reports research tool, which is a kind of household survey for public services, has a different position from other researches due to its participatory nature which enables designing through the interactions of citizens and service providers; collaboratively analyzing the regional diversity of service performance and investigating the causes of poor performance; and managing the process, ensuring that assessments that change over time will be replicated, and developing a governance mechanism.

Another tool to be developed is socio-economic mapping. Integrative solutions are of great importance in public service delivery. These solutions can fail if they are not sensitive to the differences in society’s needs because of the simultaneous existence of the striking inequalities in the city that deprives its people of equal opportunities. The socio-economic mapping method, which aims to eliminate this problem, examines the city with a spatial approach on the basis of regions or neighborhoods within its borders.

The budget tracking tool, which is another participatory analytical tool, creates a two-dimensional basis for accountability in government-public interaction. In other words, it not only allows public administrators to implement policy, but also functions as an important surveillance tool where the public can monitor how public money is spent.

Increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of City Councils , which is the second component of the project, aims to improve local participation and make city councils more active by strengthening the capacity of City Councils. Within the scope of the third component, developing participatory decision-making culture at local level, special studies will be carried out to monitor and evaluate the strategic plans of local governments and their implementation through an awareness raising campaign in order to encourage the participation of local stakeholders and public administrators in City Council activities.

In addition to the institutions responsible for the implementation and management of the project, which will be completed on October 31, 2013, among the stakeholders whose contributions are of great importance for the successful implementation of the Project are the  organizations such as the Union of Municipalities of Turkey, the Provincial Service Union, Development Agencies and other local stakeholders, especially local governments and City Councils in 26 selected pilot cities.

As a result, the “Participatory Strategic Governance” Project will contribute to the local government reform by raising the awareness of civil society on participation and will take important first steps in the creation and development of participatory decision-making culture in Turkey.

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