Public Administration in the Spotlight
The International Institute of Administrative Sciences (IIAS) held its annual congress from 13 to 17 June 2014 at the Al Akhawayn University, Ifrane, Morocco.
The congress was attended by over two hundred participants drawn from 41 countries spread across the world. The congress was held at a time the world was engaged in the implementation of wide ranging public administration reforms and had three main themes: (1) The Proliferation of Responsible Actors in Public Administration; (2) Re-Thinking Accountability in Times of Proliferation of Public Actors; and (3) Capacity Building in the Times of Changes and Decentralisation.
Participants were drawn from a wide spectrum of public administration practitioners, academic/ research and training establishments. The congress engaged in contemporary discourse on key topical issues in public administration such as the design of accountability frameworks, rule of law, openness and transparency and good governance. Participants were able to learn from a wide range of experiences in public administration drawn across the world. The increasing demand for accountability of public services has re-kindled interest in the public administration debate. There is greater demand for Public service institutions to be more transparent and accountable. The recent thrust of decentralisation has also meant that responsibility for local services provision was placed nearer the intended beneficiaries at the local level leading to greater demands for openness in the management of public services. The austerity measures that have been imposed on many public service providers have also increased the challenges faced by public administrators as they grapple with higher demands for services while resources are increasingly depleted. There was need for a robust strategy for capacity building of local governments’ personnel to more effectively conduct their responsibilities. The importance of capacity building in the public administration sphere and especially to prepare local institutions to assume decentralised functions more effectively was emphasised throughout the congress.
Also the issue of corruption came under the spotlight, participants calling for the development of systems that were effective in curbing the debilitating scourge. The effectiveness of predominantly western concepts of management was increasingly being questioned as different cultures and social settings could require different strategies of management as the context often had significant influence. Good practices could be drawn from across the globe.