As Albania progresses in its transition towards a full-fledged democracy, there still remain challenges with regard to strong democratic institutions and a faster decentralization process. Recognizing that in order to have a more effective and accountable local governance in the country and in turn better public services for Albanian citizens, there must be strong local and regional government structures, the Council of Europe, in cooperation with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation is implementing a programme that aims at supporting Albanian Government’s priorities towards improvement of decentralization.

The overall objective of the programme is to contribute towards strengthening local democracy and building up stronger local government structures (capable to drive local and regional development and deliver key services) in Albania. This will be met through support to the establishment of the conditions for: i) effective and accountable local government and ii) citizen access to improved public services and better living conditions within their communities.

The reinforcement of local government structures can be achieved by strengthening Inter-Municipal Cooperation and by enhancing Human Resource Management.

The Inter Municipal Cooperation component aims at supporting and contributing to the improvement of the implementation of IMC among municipalities, communes and qarks in Albania. It includes:

  • A national assessment of the situation of IMC in Albania, which, following a thorough analysis of questionnaires sent to Local Government Units (LGUs) and existing IMC case studies, provides with recommendations for improvement of legal, institutional and financial framework for the implementation of IMC in Albania;
  • Awareness raising among LGUs in Albania on the need for cooperation with the aim of ensuring better services to citizens using economies of scale;
  • Capacity building and transfer of knowledge to local partners on IMC, involving municipalities, communes and qarks, Ministry of Interior, Local Government Associations (LGAs) and other important actors with a significant role on encouraging IMC. The capacity building process includes: the establishment of a National Team of Trainers on IMC followed by roll out trainings in local level with participation of LGU`s representatives from the 12 regions in Albania;
  • Resource package on IMC - the Council of Europe, UNDP and the Local Government and Public Sector Reform Initiative (LGI) have worked together on designing and launching in 2009 the full package on the international standards, benefits and steps to undertake an IMC. The “library” of IMC, includes the IMC toolkit, IMC guide, Training materials, case studies and IMC leaflet. The IMC assessment report in Albania completes the IMC resource package translated and adapted for the usage of Albanian LGU`s.

 

Improvement of Human Resources Management (HRM) in local government in Albania based on principles of good governance

Building the capacities of the public administration, increasing staff sustainability, professionalism and responsibility remain key priorities of the Government of Albania. Despite noted progress mainly in the domain of public service, according to domestic and international observers much remains to be done in order to ensure a professional civil service. The same situation is observed at the level of local self-government. In particular as there is a need to establish proper human resource management practices based on legal and institutional framework. The practice of modern HRM tools in LGUs in Albania needs to be improved in order to raise the quality of services delivered to the communities.

The Human Resources Management component aims at supporting and improving the human resources management practices in local governance in Albania, based on an independent, merit based, professional civil service and public administration which complies with good governance principles. It includes:

  • A national assessment of the current situation of HRM at local level, resulted from the analysis of questionnaires sent to municipalities, communes and qarks and an in depth case study with pilot LGUs addressing the level of law enforcement, HRM recruitment procedures, performance appraisal, learning and development, internal communication as well as the role of HRM units, elected and executive bodies in setting institutional standards and structures. This assessment provides for conclusions and recommendations for improving HRM practices;
  • Direct technical assistance to 17 pilot LGU`s (municipalities and communes) so as to assess their HRM situation and engagement, ensure the harmonisation of  their organisational structure with the mission and vision and define possible corrective and improving measures.
  • Development of HRM tools and capacity building - On the basis of the national assessment and the experience made in pilot areas, the project has drafted a set of modern tools on HRM, and invested on building capacities through organizing national forums and training of trainers involving key elected representatives and senior staff responsible for HRM from 17 pilot LGUs, MoI, DoPA and LGAs. The HRM tools will be distributed at national level to ensure their usage in each LGU`s reality.

 

Potential follow-up:
 

  • Inter municipal cooperation

The work done in the framework of the project has prepared the ground so as to support the Albanian Government in further improving the legal, administrative and financial framework for facilitating IMC. Successful case studies will also be disseminated in order for municipalities and communes to draw inspiration from them and for local authorities in general to embrace a cooperation culture in Albania. Further assistance to LGUs might be needed to enter an IMC set-up and related joint projects.

 

  • Human Resources management

Building on the current project achievements and in view of the upcoming approval in Parliament of the new law on Civil Servants, there is a broad understanding that further assistance will be needed both at the local level - in support of municipalities, communes and regions in the due implementation of HRM principles - and at the national level so as to define standards and benchmarks on HRM and transpose them into legislation and practices. To this end, support to the Training Institute of Public Administration (TIPA) and Civil Service Commission (CSC) in close cooperation with the Department of Public Administration (DoPA) will be needed. It will be important to pilot new standards and to provide and disseminate good practices through appropriate tools, in close collaboration with all stakeholders.

IMC and HRM are interlinked, providing a comprehensive, systemic and multi-stakeholder approach in support of strong and effective local government through increased cooperation and performance at local level.