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20 Nov 2015

Belarus’ Public Administration Academy, UNDP ink memorandum of understanding

MINSK, 20 November (BelTA) – A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Republic of Belarus and the United Nations Development Program on 20 November. The document was signed by the Academy’s Rector Marat Zhilinsky and UNDP Resident Representative in Belarus Sanaka Samarasinha during the international conference held to discuss the role of the civil service in implementing sustainable development goals, BelTA has learned.

A program on training civil servants will be part of the memorandum’s implementation. Speaking during the conference, aide to the Belarus president Kirill Rudy explained that the purpose of the educational project is to work out a new understanding of the civil service for providing public services for the benefit and upon orders of the country’s residents. “Now government agencies will not be the ones to decide on norms and standards. Consumers of public services will determine quality standards,” said Kirill Rudy.

Quality can be evaluated via public opinion polls among other things. Specific targets are worked out for evaluating every public service. After that salaries and careers of civil servants will depend on these indicators, explained the aide to the Belarus president. He also pointed out that modern public services are primarily digital ones.

Tentatively scheduled to start in 2016, the education project for civil servants will be focused on three target groups: the central level, the regional level, and the control system. “As far as the central level is concerned, we are talking about branch-based administration of the economy. Functions of the state as the owner and functions of the economic operator will have to be separated,” said Kirill Rudy.

Speaking about the regional level, the aide to the Belarus president said it will require an elevation of self-dependence of municipal government agencies. The move will reduce the response time and will increase the quality of service. “Municipal authorities are closest to consumers of public services,” explained the official. The greater self-dependence will also promote regional competition and equalization of development of the regions.

The public service control system will be primarily geared towards auditing instead of direct state control. But the existing system will not be replaced with something different. It will be enhanced with new things. In particular, public control will be introduced. Responsibility measures will be applied for failing to hit public service performance targets instead of unintended use of financial resources or failures to comply with instructions.

According to the aide to the Belarus president, the transition to the new system will utilize the experience of other countries such as China, Singapore, Kazakhstan, Russia, and so on. The overall program is expected to cover several years. In the near future an action plan will be worked out. There are plans to involve professors of the Public Administration Academy and private business education institutions. Kirill Rudy mentioned that on-the-job training in Georgia, Estonia, Singapore, and other countries is possible.

The development of new parameters to evaluate the performance of civil servants is a major part of the project. The government intends to introduce key performance indicators in the near future. “There were directive-based indicators in the past. Now there will be indicative ones. I hope that the form and the content will be changed,” said Kirill Rudy.

Apart from that, the aide to the Belarus president mentioned the matter of personnel rotation. He pointed out that a newly appointed executive often brings his or her old team of subordinates. “It is always a team of likeminded people but they are not always the specialists that are needed. They sometimes fail to meet requirements of their new jobs. There is no general understanding. Time for adaptation is needed. It affects the quality of the decisions they make. The new personnel are often put in charge of fulfilling instructions instead of observing some institutional rules. Auditing systems are often tuned to pay attention to that, too,” said Kirill Rudy. He added that leaving the core team in place after appointing another minister is one of the tasks of the new project.

Held on 20 November, the conference on the role of the civil service in implementing sustainable development goals was the final stage of the UN70 Express in Belarus campaign. Participants of the forum discussed reformation of the civil service system, ways to train a new generation of administrators, the best international practices in the national experience of European and CIS states in evaluating the performance of government agencies.

Results of the UN70 Express in Belarus initiative will be summed up today as well. As part of the initiative over 150 UN officials, representatives of the Belarus President Administration, the parliament, ministries, the private sector, the civil society, religious communities, and the diplomatic corps boarded a special train to visit seven Belarusian cities and towns. The initiative was prompted by the UN summit adopting the document Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The document specifies 17 goals, which implementation will begin in January 2016. The number includes the establishment of peace-loving relations in the society, an open justice system, the elimination of poverty and unemployment, encouragement of innovations.

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