Decentralisation and administrative reform
Title: Decentralisation and Administrative Reform in Cambodia
Commissioned by: The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: National Committee for Sub-national Democratic Development; Ministry of Civil Service; all districts in Battambang and selected districts in Kandal Province
Overall term: 2016 to 2018
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 improve the motivation and skills of public bodies 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 elected sub-national councils still lack the experience, expertise and personnel required in order to shape policies in their areas of responsibility. Limited powers and autonomy as well as insufficient coordination make it difficult for the councils and administrations to perform their functions and tasks in a transparent and accountable manner and thus provide public services efficiently.
The aim is for sub-national administrations s and councils in partner districts and municipalities to provide selected public services in a coordinated, responsive and accountable manner.
The programme builds on a predecessor project that has already helped government bodies and non-governmental organisations to gain a thorough understanding of administrative reforms, democratic decentralisation and accountability. The European Union has cofinanced the programme since July 2017.
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 sector ministries at national level.
At sub-national level, the project provides specialist support to partner districts and municipalities to allow them to provide better public services to citizens. It also strengthens the sub-national governments so that they can test and implement mechanisms that make responsive and accountable service provision possible.
Citizens’ offices, known as one-window service offices, are being extended to district level as part of the programme, and the decision-making powers of sub-national councils are being strengthened. In addition, the Secretariat of the National Committee for Sub-national Democratic Development, the Ministry of Civil Service and selected sector ministries are assisted in drawing up and disseminating minimum standards for providing public services and establishing appropriate feedback mechanisms.
The programme is also helping to improve cooperation between sub-national administrations and councils as well as selected sector ministries. Local administrations and councils are being strengthened to allow them to manage their service personnel in a coordinated and more performance-driven manner. To achieve this, new tools for HR management and development, such as job descriptions and regular performance appraisals, are being created and put into practice.
The implementation of performance-based HR management tools will improve the efficiency of the staff. A further expectation is that national and sub-national governments will follow examples of good practice from coordinated service delivery between local governments and sector offices..
The programme also supports cooperation between national and sub-national stakeholders as part of the transfer of health and education functions from deconcentrated sector offices to the decentralised sub-national governments. This strengthens the sub-national governments in a number of ways, as they take on new responsibility, perform the roles assigned to them and exercise their rights of initiative as part of their general mandates.
Experimenting, learning and disseminating experience when implementing political strategies play an essential role in promoting tried and tested practices and driving the decentralisation process forward. The programme supports the Cambodian Government’s efforts to make the provision of public services more responsive, improve the performance of the sub-national governments and respond quickly and efficiently to the needs of citizens within their spheres of responsibility.
Thanks to the programme’s support, the number of council decisions relating to needs voiced by citizens during council meetings has already increased. As a result, provision of selected services, such as solid waste management and services in the citizens’ offices, has also increased.