The first meeting of the PARCO and the representatives of the Local Self-governance

"We've studied the Local Self-governance Strategy and we are supporting and complimenting that document. The local self-government is an important part of the public administration, so the reform of the one sector without the complementary reform of the other one is practically impossible.", Mr. Suad Music, the Deputy of the State PAR Coordinator, pointed out. "On the initiative from the local levels of authority in BiH, and with help of the most successful local communities, expert team created the Local Self-government reform Strategy. Now, that Strategy coming to the agendas of the BiH authorities, and getting the status if the document complementary with the PAR Strategy"- said Mr. Zdravko Miovcic, Director of the EDA Agency that was the creator of the LSG Strategy.

Those short presentations of the two significant documents that define reform process within BH public sector assigned the beginning of the first meeting of the reform’s initiators from the higher – State and Entity, and the lower level – the level of local communities in BiH. That meeting, titled "the contemplation of the LSGR strategy (Local Self – government Reform Strategy) and the PAR Strategy (Public Administration Reform Strategy) in the context of their mutual connectivity and pursuing" have been held in the Public Administration Reform Coordinator’s Office (PARCO) in Sarajevo, on December the 5th, 2006. This meeting was initiated by PARCO, and it gathered the significant number of the participants, from the following institutions: FBiH’s Municipalities and Cities Association (SOGFBiH), OHR, UNDP, OSCE, USAID, Embassy of Netherlands in BiH, EC Delegation in BiH, Swedish Embassy/SIDA Project, GAP project. As the direct representatives of the local self – governance in BiH, together with the SOGFBiH, meeting was also officiated by the presence of Mr. Vlado Alilović, the Mayor of the Vitez Municipality, and Mr. Zdravko Miovcic, the Director of the Economic Development Agency (EDA) from Banjaluka. Beside that, the representatives of the RS Association of Local Authorities, headed by the President of the Association, Mr. Radomir Kezunovic, sent their apologies and regret because of the fact that they weren’t able to attend this meeting. They also greeted this initiative for the cooperation and announced future active participation in the meetings and mutual work.

Mr. Suad Music, the National Coordinator's Deputy, together with the PARCO staff, represented the organizer of this meeting, Public Administration Reform Coordinator's Office in BiH. Also, the contribution in this meeting's work was given by the experts from the EC Technical Assistance to PAR Project, headed with the Team Leader, Mr. Folkert Milch.

Thanks to the exceptional attendance, as well as to the interest of the participants, the meeting offered very qualitative discussion. Expected result of the meeting was the initiation of the useful dialogue which considers empirical exposition of the ideas, attitudes, and opinions regarded to the development of public administration and local self-government, in accordance with theirs Strategies. According to that established goal, and judging to the reactions of the participants, final conclusion was that the meeting was completely constructive and that it significantly fulfilled the expectations of all present members.

The idea on the congregation of this meeting, with a role of the initial step for the launching of the intensive and comprehensive cooperation with the local self-government representatives, came from the PARCO. Initiative arise as a result of the PARCO's dedication to significantly include the local level in the PAR implementation process, all of it in order to implement the reform in the most efficient and qualitative way. The great energy at the local level regarding to the approach to the reform has been recognized, as well as the willingness and the readiness for involving in the reform processes. In the view of the fact that the PAR comprises all levels of administration, from the State to municipality, involvement of the local communities’ representatives will largely improve the capacities and abilities for the implementation of the reform. As a first step in that cooperation, PARCO opened the possibility for the inclusion of the local community representatives in the PAR Strategy Action Plan 1 implementation working groups.

The meeting was opened with the welcome from Mr. Music, who brought out the main idea of the meeting – mutual acquaintance of all attendants for the easier future cooperation and agreement on the agendas for the next meeting, because the PAR Strategy and LSGR Strategy are two complementary documents whose goals should bring to the same results. Mr. Music shortly briefed attendants in the PAR Strategy, and pointed out its connectivity with LSGR Strategy, and added that PARCO found the close cooperation with the representatives of the local community necessary, and that such cooperation is in the both sides interest. Mrs. Dragica Lakic, PARCO's expert associate for the area of the administrative procedure, shortly presented the PAR implementation Plan.

LSGR Strategy was presented afterwards by the Mr. Miovcic and that presentation comprised: its origination, development, creators, and special accent was put on the fact that that document was completely created by the domestic experts and that it is less formal document than the PAR Strategy. He also added that the thinks that the harmonization of those two document and the close cooperation in the implementation. It was pointed out that the PAR Strategy as a baseline gathered the so-called ‚"top – down" approach, which implies approach to the reform from the top – the level of the State, and than the focus moves to the lower levels. On the other hand, LSGR Strategy as its base takes the ‚"bottom – down" approach, and that means that the reform begins from the lowest level and than goes to the higher levels. And, that exact difference in the approach can be of significant benefit from the harmonization of those two documents, because practically, all the levels of public administration that need reform would be comprised with them.

After the presentations of the documents, the representatives of the local community, donors and the organizations involved in the reform processes in those segments, brought out theirs perceptions of the Strategies, and comments and attitudes regard to the possibilities of theirs harmonization, and the future cooperation. Also, the basic problems they facing in they everyday work, was pointed out, as a possible obstacles to reform processes, especially at the local level. Attendants offered many comments, propositions and opinions as well, and all those conclusions will surely help in the future work on BH PAR implementation.

As the important areas of harmonization of those two documents and actions based on them, from the local self – governance perspective it was pointed out the following:

Information Technologies area, an within that, E – government concept;

Institutional Communication area, that includes significant widening and moving of that concept from PR approach towards the approach of the mutual communication and with the citizens;

Human Resources Management, especially in the area of civil servant appointment;

Administrative Procedure area, with an accent on the involvement of the civil society in this segment

After very good and constructive discussion, two concrete propositions, or more precisely, initiatives, croped out:

1.Involvement of the representatives of the local self – government in the Working groups for the implementation of the PAR Strategy Action Plan I, proposed by the PARCO,

2.Forming of a small team of experts that will work on the evaluation of the ways for harmonization and implementation of the public administration reform and the reform of the local self – governance, proposed by the representatives of the local communities.

3. Ensuring of the continuity in the holding of the similar meetings in the future and the planning of the mutual activities

4. Mutual exchange of the information significant for the implementation of the both Strategies and coordinated approach in the conducting of the reform measiures.

It was persuaded that the cooperation is necessary, and that the all sides will take active engagement on the cooperation, coordination, permanent contact and exchange of information about plans and activities. Opinions, attitudes and propositions brought out during the meeting will be seriously considered in the planning and implementation of the future actions in the area of public administration reform.

Coordinator's Office evaluated that another one significant step was taken with this meeting in its attempt to include and involve all relevant subjects with a view of more profound and comprehensive reform and its implementation.