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Dear Minister Fakhoury, Director Koehler, Ambassadors, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
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OECD Trust Strategy, which refers to openness as one of the building blocks of restoring trust, the report
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It may sound easy, but we all know that the implementation of fundamental reforms is a paramount task; it takes
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Luiz de Mello, The Principles of Public Administration for ENP Countries, Jordan 10 May 2016

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Speech by Luiz de Mello, OECD, given at the conference on The Principles of Public Administration: A framework for ENP countries. The event was co-organised by SIGMA with the Jordanian Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation and the EU, it took place at the Dead Sea, Jordan 10 May 2016.

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Luiz de Mello, The Principles of Public Administration for ENP Countries, Jordan 10 May 2016

  1. 1. – Dear Minister Fakhoury, Director Koehler, Ambassadors, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to be here in Amman to introduce The Principles of Public Administration: A Framework for ENP Countries to such a prominent audience, particularly key decision makers from so many countries, who are steering and promoting public administration reforms in their own administration. I think we all know very well that good governance and good public administration do matter for economic development and inclusive growth. Representing a significant share of our economies, the public sector is vital to all aspects of well-being. An effective and accountable public service is essential to support the businesses that create jobs, equip young people with the skills they need for fulfilling careers, and provide the services that citizens expect throughout their lives. I am convinced that the role of the public administration in ensuring well-being is now crucial. Global and universal commitments such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals require effective and accountable public sectors to implement them successfully. Good public governance has a significant impact on government performance and is therefore essential in building trust in government and delivering necessary structural reforms. In recognition of this, governance issues have moved to the centre of policy debates in the OECD and its member countries in recent years. In most OECD countries, growth has slowed significantly over the recent decade, and countries are still struggling to return to the levels of before the economic and financial crisis in 2008. In parallel, we have seen levels of income inequality and poverty rise, particularly among children and youth. This has undoubtedly impacted the social fabric of communities, reducing social cohesion and diminishing trust in public institutions. The average level of confidence in the national government of OECD countries stood at 43% in 2015, still below pre-crisis levels. This means that the majority of the population in OECD countries doesn't trust governments. In some EU countries, trust in government has fallen by more than 20 percentage points. As we can see looking at current political developments, now more than ever citizens have doubts about their Government’s capacities to make the right decisions and increasingly, many groups feel disconnected: for example, youth, minorities, immigrants and women. Let’s not forget that public trust is one of the most precious assets a country can have. It is the cornerstone of effective governance, the main ingredient to promote economic growth and social progress. Without trust in government, no policy, no reform, will be ambitious or effective enough to achieve more prosperous and equitable societies. Citizens are increasingly aware of the scale of challenges such as inequality, migration and climate change, and they expect governments to look beyond electoral timetables and bureaucratic silos to find durable and equitable solutions. Countries in the MENA region are facing similar challenges in terms of a growing disconnection between the government and citizens, in particular among the younger generation. The OECD regional report “Youth in the MENA region: How to bring them in”, which was prepared by the MENA-OECD Governance Programme, finds that young men and women across the region express less trust in government than their parents. In line with the
  2. 2. 2 OECD Trust Strategy, which refers to openness as one of the building blocks of restoring trust, the report recommends that governments should make critical information available to youth, and promote new and innovative ways to allow for their systematic engagement in public life. As you may know, the MENA-OECD Governance Programme celebrated its 10th anniversary last year – a year in which its mandate was renewed for 2016-2020. Let me thank Morocco for the excellent collaboration as the chair of the Programme over the last year and congratulate Tunisia for taking over the chairmanship. For the MENA region, the G7 Deauville Partnership has played a major role in promoting more open and inclusive policy making and citizen participation for restoring trust in government. The OECD is very pleased to work with the Deauville Partnership on this priority for the region. In November 2015 in Berlin, the Deauville Partnership endorsed the first Civil Society Charter with the participation of the EU [You may wish to turn to Michael Koehler from the EU with whom you met in the Berlin conference]. Many Eastern European countries are also facing a crisis of public trust in their state institutions. According to the OECD regional report "Anti-Corruption Reforms in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Progress and Challenges, 2013-2015", despite many reform efforts, state institutions remain weak, while poor governance and corruption limit social and economic development. However, the reform efforts taken have helped to identify effective tools which allow increasing integrity and the building of transparent and effective public institutions. The OECD regional study "Prevention of Corruption in the Public Sector in Eastern Europe and Central Asia" presents a number of these tools, which have shown positive results in some countries and could be applied to others who seek to boost integrity, transparency and the quality of their state bodies. It is therefore time to take action and re-build confidence in our public institutions. Good governance needs good public administration. Strengthening the public administration through structured reforms is an essential foundation for restoring trust in public institutions. This requires that we review our institutional arrangements to support inclusive growth - including giving voice to citizens, getting the design right for better and more sustainable interventions, ensuring capacity for delivery and strengthening accountability. All of these aspects were agreed in Helsinki during our Public Governance Ministerial, where Ministers called for a new vision for Public Governance. The European Commission’s strengthened focus on public administration reform in European Neighbourhood countries is a great step forward in this direction. I am particularly pleased that the Principles of Public Administration have been developed jointly by the OECD and the European Commission through SIGMA, which has been a successful partnership initiative of the two organisations for almost 25 years. This co-operation has made it possible to combine EU Neighbourhood Policy dynamics with OECD public governance expertise and to converge decades of experience from both OECD countries and EU member states, including former EU accession countries. The Principles of Public Administration provide a definition of good public administration. And I should emphasise that they only outline basic and fundamental requirements that should be in place, not what some would describe as the “nice to have”.
  3. 3. 3 It may sound easy, but we all know that the implementation of fundamental reforms is a paramount task; it takes time, and requires dedication and persistence from the political and administrative leadership of the country. The Principles offer a framework for governments and policy makers, but also for senior managers responsible for reforms, which will enable them to design, monitor and steer reforms in the area of public administration. The framework also provides tools to analyse what has been achieved and whether the outcomes of the work of the administration have improved. There are 38 Principles presented in both the booklet and the more comprehensive publication that you have been given. I would like to highlight some of the key elements, which help to determine the success of reforms. First, implementation of the Principles has a direct impact on trust in government. In particular, recent research by the OECD illustrates that openness, inclusiveness, accountability and reliability in a country determine whether or not citizens have trust in their Government. These values are the cornerstones of the Principles. Second, we recently held discussions with top decision makers from the centres of government of OECD countries on how strong leadership is crucial for successful reforms. It is in your hands to guide and deliver reforms within your own country and to motivate others in your own administration. To achieve that, it is necessary to create an environment which promotes innovation and a degree of risk taking, and rewards top managers who are successful in the implementation of reforms. Third, successful reforms take into account financial circumstances and are designed to be financially sustainable, especially after donor assistance is phased out. Therefore, proper planning of implementation costs and a close link between policy planning and management of public finances is crucial. Ladies and gentlemen, the Principles are designed as a toolkit for decision makers who strive for good administration in their countries. Although the challenges of each country differ and depend on multiple factors, the framework provides a general direction and helps to prioritise reforms. Through a strong focus on implementation and the collection of evidence on actual performance, the Principles provide a set of building blocks for reforms within a defined framework that I really believe can assist you in designing and implementing a public administration reform vision. The sharing of experiences is a key component of good public governance - learning from what has worked and what has not, and of course adapting these lessons to specific contexts. This is at the heart of the OECD/SIGMA programme which, as you know, supports reform delivery. I would like to give the floor now to the Head of SIGMA, Ms. Karen Hill, who will provide further insight into the Principles and the role of SIGMA in the process. Thank you very much. Luiz de Mello, Deputy Director, Directorate for Public Governance and Territorial Development, OECD

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