Local Administration Reform Project (Phase III)

What is the Project About?

The overall objective of the project is to ensure effective, inclusive, accountable and participatory local governance in Turkey, through support to further implementation of the local administration reform process undertaken between 2003-2013, in line with international standards.

The specific objective of the project is to develop and strengthen the administrative capacity and cooperation of Ministry of Interior (MoI) and local authorities themselves in the task of ensuring the effective implementation of the new local administration model in line with principles of democratic governance.

What has been the Situation?

As experienced in many countries, Turkey also has challenges in developing and implementing a coherent approach to decentralizing the delivery of public services. The MoI, which undertook a comprehensive local administration reform, guides decentralization initiatives through legislative amendments. However, decentralization has not proven to be an easy route to the improvement of local services. This is a consequence of the partial steps taken, but also speaks of the complex factors that influence the quality and reach of services. Despite this reality, some notable successes indicate that progress can be made, particularly when the supply and demand sides are addressed simultaneously. Nationally-driven schemes have included performance-based granting to local authorities, which have spurred improvements in governance processes with an expectation of more effective service delivery. Another more direct, but more centralized way of ensuring service improvement at the local level is based on reimbursing verified results.

There is also qualitative evidence that the new metropolitan system as well as amalgamations have been successful. Municipality representatives attending various events by the Ministry and the Union of Municipalities of Turkey (UMT) have expressed positive opinions on the overall evaluation. Further analysis is required on the citizen side. On the other hand, major problems were confronted in the last 5 years. such as rural area management, relations and sharing of responsibilities between tiers of municipalities and decreasing motivation to collect or generate own revenues. Mobilizing quality human resources became more evident in the new model.

There are also pending issues as for the challenges faced by the municipalities. By the public financial management framework municipalities are asked to develop outcome measures which they do not feel accountable for. Increasing the life quality of dwellers or attaining sustainable development goals at the local level require coordinated effort with central government departments and between tiers of municipalities. However, the local governance system lacks tools for results-based management. Coordination between central and local government are carried out at operational level in an ad hoc basis through many provincial boards organized under themes and sectoral lines of government. Spatial plan is another potential tool for coordination. Spatial plans up to 1:25000 scale are prepared by municipalities in urban areas. There are also coordination failures between metropolitan municipality and district municipalities.

Local governments have also difficulties in implementing strategic management framework. According to the Public Finance Management and Control (PFMC) law, municipalities with a population over 50,000 are obliged to implement strategic management framework. However, a decade of practice demonstrates mediocre results. The planning, programming and budgeting functions of the strategic management framework do not work coherently.

Ministry of Environment and Urbanization has taken over the responsibility for implementing government policy on local administrations including strategic management. The ministry prepares an annual report on the general activities of local administrations, but the report fails to include commentaries on the performance of municipalities as the PFMC law requires. There are 246 municipalities implementing strategic management framework and Ministry has to build capacity to monitor their progress.

What is our Mission?

Our mission is to ensure effective, inclusive, accountable and participatory local governance in Turkey, through support to further implementation of the local administration reform process through capacity building activities. The target groups of our project include Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, Union of Municipalities of Turkey, Ministry of Finance and Treasury, governorates, district governorates, municipalities, special provincial administrations, unions of municipalities and elected representatives and professionals serving in these institutions. Expected results of the project are as follows:

1. Administrative and operational capacities for efficient provision of local services enhanced,

2. Administrative and operational capacities of the local authorities for the implementation of new Metropolitan Municipality Model strengthened,

3. Institutional capacity of the local authorities in terms of service delivery and adoption of the principles of democratic governance enhanced,

4. Public awareness on urbanization enhanced through institutional and individual capacity enhancement programs,

5. Efficiency of the local services enhanced through online managements systems.

How are we doing this?

The Project is developed in the light of gains from Local Administration Reform Phase I (2005-2007) and Phase II (2010-2011). As such most of the activities build on and/or complement the activities that have been realized within LAR-II with a view to further the LAR and increase the impact. Within the scope of the LAR entrusted with the MoI, both phases of LAR projects addressed the core pillars of the ongoing overall reform process in Turkey by strengthening the local administration system as a whole and improving the institutional capacities of local authorities and individual capacities of relevant staff.

The projects have been designed and implemented to strengthen the basis and human and institutional capacities for citizen-centered local administration with an increased responsiveness to the expectations and immediate needs of local communities.

A number of recommendations, which could be taken into consideration while designing the Project at hand, were addressed by LAR Phase II. Integrated, long-term, reform projects that simultaneously work with both the central government (and other stakeholders) on policy issues and with local authorities (and other stakeholders) on improving public services are defined to be key for the design of this Project.

Apart from that, the lessons learned from LAR Phase II, which will be utilized in the implementation of this Project can be summarized as follows:

-      The needs assessments and fact-finding field studies are indispensable tools that ensure effective and efficient design of the activities.

-      Continuous and conscious involvement of the project stakeholders and the final beneficiaries into the process of strategy and action plan development; stimulates ownership and enhances effectiveness and sustainability.

-      A single LAR support project aiming to serve the needs of local administrations at all national, regional and local levels weakens the likelihood of early impact.

-      Limited national and local level training strategies for sustainability of the related activities conducted by different organizations.

-      Substantially improving the delivery of complex local services are non-trivial undertakings that typically require both significant legislative reform and significant changes in the way local authorities organize, finance and regulate these services.

-      The difficulties involved in efforts to reform complex areas of local public service delivery and the risks of which such efforts inevitably entail should be realistically assessed. One possibility is to build efforts to improve multiple types of municipal services into larger, integrated, and longer-term public administration reform projects.

-      Efforts should be focused on, and executed through intermediary institutions like municipal associations, research institutes, and universities, both to thicken the reform policy environment and to ensure that something is left behind if national reform efforts stall for political reasons.

-      In a country as large as Turkey, efforts at the local level should be concentrated in a small number of relatively large and politically significant metropolitan municipalities. Pilot interventions at the local level should be designed as much to produce sound policy proposals as to produce local institutional change.

How will Turkey Benefit?

The project has been designed and implemented to strengthen the basis and human and institutional capacities for citizen-centered local administration with an increased responsiveness to the expectations and immediate needs of local communities to ensure inclusive and participatory governance approach is adopted.

What has been achieved until today?

The MoI facilitated establishment of a Project Steering Committee (PSC), which will review progress, provide macro-level inputs for the successful realization of the Project, and act as a platform for promoting inter-agency cooperation and collaboration. Upon its establishment, the PSC will be chaired by the MoI and will consist of Ministry officials, project partners, and line institutions relevant to the scope of the project, including the Strategy and Budget Office of Presidency, EUD, CFCU and UNDP.

A comprehensive stakeholder analysis and project appraisal study was conducted by the UNDP. The key project stakeholders continued to demonstrate a considerable level of commitment and interest.

During the inception phase, the newly launched presidency system led to significant changes in the roles and responsibilities of the ministries, including the Ministry of Interior. As such, the Directorate General for Local Authorities within the auspices of MOI has been abolished, while a new Directorate General for Directorate General for Local Authorities has been established and made operational within the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization. In this sense, with a view to improving the impact of the Project as well as maintain institutional ownership for and sustainability of the project results/outputs, MoEU stated to act as the co-beneficiary of the LAR Phase III Project.

The communication plan of the project has been revised and updated.