Aspen Governance & Society Program
One of the flagship programs of the Aspen Institute Romania, aiming to foster good governance and increase the social responsibility of decision-makers in Romania.
About the program
Building on the experience and work of the Global Governance Forum convened in Prague since 2011 and other similar efforts, such as the Gold Standard in Governance conference, organized in Bucharest in 2014, the program is centered on a community of individuals and institutions that consider that the next stage of EU integration of CEE countries should focus on building a Good Society.
The program facilitates a non-partisan dialogue between institutional actors, representatives of international organizations active in the field, NGOs, media and private sector representatives from Romania and the neighboring region, which try to jointly support the fight against corruption and to identify and promote policies aiming for better governance.
Since Romania’s accession to the European Union in 2007, the country has undergone a significant process of capacity building for its public institutions. In addition, by adhering to the principles of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in 2011, the Romanian Government committed to promote transparency and the use of new technologies, and to fight corruption in order to enhance the governance and dialogue with citizens. An open and transparent dialogue between central and local government institutions, civil society and citizens are priorities. For this, an integrated open government national strategy is needed.
Maximizing the quality of services rendered by public authorities should be at the center of joint public-private capacity building efforts. Despite laudable progress, this process still needs to be strengthened in three strategic directions:
- Stimulate the further development of high-quality public services through continuous dialog among public institutions, at both national and regional (both EU and non-EU member states) levels. This conversation, focused on experience and results, would allow for a helpful exchange on good practices and lessons learned.
- Implement prevention measures recommended by The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), enhancing the capacity to fight corruption and raising the accountability and transparency of public services. Within this process, there is a strong need for more cooperation between the government and the civil society in dealing with major public policy issues.
- Promote gender balance and ensure equality of chances for women and young politicians, who are underrepresented in Romania’s public administration, affecting the quality of policies aimed towards these groups, as well as the overall inclusiveness of the policy making process. The World Economic Forum’s 2016 Gender Gap index on equality of chances between men and women places Romania last in the European Union and 76 worldwide (out of 145 countries).
Program Track Record
Since its launch under the framework of program the following activities were organized:
- Towards a Gold Standard in Governance, Transparency and Anti-Corruption in Post-Communist Societiestook place on 2 September 2014, marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of totalitarian regimes in Central and Eastern Europe in 1989. This conference benefited from the participation of high-level representatives of a larger community involved in the good governance efforts in the political, economic and social context in the region, aiming to overcome real and nominal convergence issues separating former communist countries from the developed economies and societies of EU.
- Gateway Unit – Organized at the level of the General Secretariat of the Government, the Gateway Unit between 2014 and 2016, with the support of Aspen Institute Romania, comprised an inter-ministerial mechanism and a dedicated team of top consultants led by a High Representative of the Prime Minister for Strategic Projects. Besides the state secretaries and other representatives of the central or local administration, the Gateway Unit also included the professional consultants dedicated to the project. The outcome was a series of strategic recommendations for the Romanian Government, based on a 360o diagnostic of the economy, including a top-down as well as bottom up analysis.
- Toward the institution of transition in Romania – Following the US and UK models, the conversation, organized in November 2016, identified a series of measures, both before and after the elections, that public institutions and political parties had to implement to ensure a smooth transition from one Cabinet to another.
- Beyond GDP: Human Development and Welfare roundtable was organized at the Palace of the Parliament, on 3 May 2017. The debate intended to identify new public policy instruments aimed to reduce the important gaps of development and opportunities still existing inside and outside of Romania.
During the 2019 iteration of the program the activities will reflect the need to:
- Conduct analyses and recommendations on issues such as e-government, accountability, gender balance, human development and efficacy of public administration, in coordination with the other institutes from the global Aspen Network (US, Japan, France, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Kiev and Prague).
- Issue public policy recommendations designed to strengthen the administrative capacity in the public sector, based on transparent and qualitative multi-stakeholder dialogue.
- Support measures aimed to enhance accountability, transparency and quality of public services.
- Propose actions which can reduce the digital & social gaps.
- Further develop E-government by promoting digital transformation and innovation of public services.
- Develop training programs for public servants and government officials, at the national and local level, to promote value-based leadership, strengthen the policy making capabilities and develop inter-institutional and public communication skills.
Calendar of events for 2019
- Thematic Workshops for the Program Community, issuing key policy recommendations.
- Governance Innovation Forum, a high-level public platform organized on the margins of the Digital Assembly, in partnership with the Ministry of Communication and Information Society (13/14 June 2019). The event aims to create a platform of expertise, good practice and ideas, in order to identify innovative solutions for better governance and policy making in Romania, both at the national and local municipalities.
- A Customized Leadership component: Aspen Public Service Leadership Program (ongoing since 2018). The program seeks to consolidate good governance and the fundamental elements of rule of law through promoting value-based leadership. The program identifies and brings together 20-25 of the most promising public administration leaders, aged between 25 and 45 years old and is fellowship based. Participants include professionals from the local or central public administration (government, city halls and municipalities, local and county councils) and promising members of political parties.
- Organize a values-based leadership program for journalists, both at the national and regional levels. Investing in the watch-dog of democracy, especially in countries with a complex geography such as Romania is mandatory in our times. The program will also include conversations on disruptions and fake news.
- Provide support to Romanian municipalities to join the OECD Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth Initiative and to set up, at the level of the Parliament, of a “Friends of OECD Group”.
- Initiate a Women Entrepreneurs sub-program, that will promote equality of chances among Romanian entrepreneurs.