Improving performance of local authorities

Local authorities are institutions established to perform local governance tasks. Improving performance of these institutions enhances effectiveness and efficiency of local public management and local governance. The followings are solutions to improve performance of local institutions.

  • Good understanding of the assigned task as prescribed

Cadres and civil servants are required to have good understanding of the legal documents defining the functions, tasks of their agencies and their required responsibilities and duties. Before making a decision on how to organize the work, it is necessary to consider the suitability of the assigned tasks and resources. It is necessary to ensure that programs and plans are developed in a participatory and democratic manner, to develop task assignment sheets and a clear task description for individual civil servants. Even if necessary, civil servants may be required to sign a task description to ensure they have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. With better understanding of their job, civil servants work better, which facilitates the management.

  • Building competences for the staff of local institutions

Enhanced competences allow cadres and civil servants to improve their performance and performance of the local institutions. The competences building program should consist of thematic training. First, competence building efforts must be knowledge based. It can be knowledge-specific depending on the requirements of a certain position. For local government administrators it will be about local leadership, policy, plan and budget. Second is skills development. Examples are effective decision making skills, technical skills, computer skills. The third training dimension focuses on the attitudinal or behavioral aspect. It has something to do with developing positive attitudes for specific positions. At times, behavior modification is needed for one to be more productive in ones work. In other circumstances, local government personnel will have to occasionally reach out to the community to understand their hardship and needs for the services.

  • Determine the necessary management tools

Modernization of management: Digital equipment is essential to modernizing local government institutions. Modern management tools ensure the smooth operation and communication of the institutions, even when the agency heads are not in the office. Develop a database for the management information system which is essential for making quality decisions.

  • Develop a monitoring and evaluation system, agency performance assessment

A monitoring and evaluation system is important for planning and operation. Some criteria of performance which can be used are work attendance, punctuality, timeliness, responsiveness, efficiency. The local institutions may develop its internal system of reward and sanction. The aim is to provide financial or psychological rewards to employees who are high-performers. It also can provide sanctions to employees that have not accomplished the assigned tasks.

To measure institutional performance, it is important to formulate success criteria and indicators such as cost, mandate accomplishment over a period of time. A review of the current systems and procedures, a cost-benefit analysis are undertaken to provide a scoreboard on how the agency perform in its totality. The process keeps the local institutions always on its track and improve their performance.

  • Whole-government approach to local governance

Multi-stakeholder approach requires concerned government actors/service providers to work together in promoting the quality, efficiency and timely delivery of public service of the local institutions. It is imperative to work under one consolidated system, procedure and sometimes one management structure as well. These initiatives range from e-government, center for administrative services to one-stop service. By working together under one system and procedure, different agencies are able to offer cheaper and timely services with transparent and simple procedures. At the same time, service users could drastically reduce their time and resources in searching information from different government’s bureaucracies.

  • Transparency and accountability

Transparency requires that all decisions and the implementation of those decisions are carried out in accordance with the legal framework, that information related to the decision-making process is openly disseminated and accessible by the public, especially those who will be affected by such a decision.

Accountability requires cadres and civil servants to take full responsibility for their performances, bear full consequences for their enforcements; to be accountable to their citizens/service users for what they do and the impact of their actions.

It is crucial to apply appropriate tools in promoting transparency and accountability: dissemination of local governments’ drafts prior to decisions; participatory decision-making; dissemination of documents/reports, performance information of local governments; citizen’s right of access to information and local authorities’ decisions; hearings, consultation process; dissemination of annual reports of the office of receiving citizens, results of consultation and supervision.

Public participation in local governance: Develop communication tools to increase the level of public awareness of participatory planning and decisions of local governments. Prepare information publications; develop special columns on the e-portal/ websites; prepare for meetings, consultation with community; prepare radio and television thematic programs; building capacity for community organizations such as conciliation teams, and so on; suggestion boxes; hot lines; SMS; inspection.

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