Decentralisation and administrative reform
Title: Decentralisation and Administrative Reform Programme (DAR)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development; Ministry of Civil Service; selected districts in Battambang Province
Overall term: 2019 to 2022
For many years, administrative and political power in Cambodia was largely in the hands of the central government. However, the country is currently undergoing a process of change in which government structures and administrative procedures are being adapted to the requirements of a development-oriented state. The Cambodian Government is working to promote a service culture and to enhance the training and skills of public agencies and their staff in order to make public administration effective, efficient, reliable and responsive.
To develop local self-governance, financial and human resources and decision-making capacities are gradually being transferred to the local level. Nevertheless, the locally elected councils still lack the experience, expertise and personnel required to shape policies in their respective areas of responsibility. Limited powers and autonomy, combined with insufficient coordination between regional administrations, make it difficult for the councils and administrations to perform their functions and tasks in a transparent and accountable manner and thus provide efficient public services.
Particularly since the ban imposed on the largest opposition party and the tightening of regulations for non-governmental organisations, citizens do not feel that they are sufficiently well informed to be able to participate in decision-making. For their part, local administrations lack the experience required to shape effective and meaningful citizen participation.
With citizen participation, selected local administrative units provide social and administrative services in a coordinated, transparent and accountable manner.
The programme builds on predecessor projects that have already helped government agencies and non-governmental organisations to gain a thorough understanding of administrative reforms, democratic decentralisation and accountability. While the primary focus of the earlier programmes was initially on advising partners at central government level on developing the legal framework, the focus in the new phase is on the implementation of national strategies at regional level. In this context, the practical application of regulations goes hand in hand with the strengthening of councils and public administration.
To implement decentralisation and administrative reform, the programme works with the Secretariat of the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Civil Service and other relevant ministries at national level.
At regional level, the programme advises the partner districts in Battambang Province to enable them to provide better social and administrative services. It also strengthens the regional governments so that they can test and implement mechanisms that facilitate responsive and accountable service provision. To achieve this, the programme works with civil society actors to ensure that they play a greater role in decisions on service provision. Services such as the local ombudsperson are strengthened to increase transparency.
The programme is also helping to improve cooperation between regional governments and sector authorities and between selected ministries on a sustainable basis. Councils, local provincial governments and sector authorities are being advised to allow them to manage their service personnel in an increasingly performance-driven manner.