OECD Publishes a Report on the Condition of Polish Local Government Units
Following two years of work, OECD’s report on the condition of Poland’s self-government structures has been published. The paper includes essential legislative recommendations and practical guidelines for local government officials.

The “Better Governance, Planning and Services in Local Self-Governments in Poland” report was drafted jointly by the Public Governance Directorate of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities (CFE) under the auspices of OECD Public Governance and Regional Development Policy Committees. It was produced with financial support provided under the European Economic Area (EEA) Financial Mechanism and Norwegian Financial Mechanism.

The report’s paramount purpose is to boost the potential of designing and implementing local government development strategies to better serve citizens, support sustainable local development by engaging stakeholders, build shared visions and take action with the use of sound governance methods.

All works on the report were carried out in close collaboration with the Association of Polish Cities, support provided by the Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy. “This was a two-year project, part of a greater process to assist Local Government Units under the ‘Local Development’ Programme. The report presents valuable recommendations based on OECD experience,” said Maciej Aulak, director of the Department of Assistance Programmes at the Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy, during an online conference on 30 June. He further emphasised that the report could not have been completed in its ultimate form without contribution by Polish local governments or their experts. Over four fact-finding missions, the OECD organised in-depth interviews with a representative sample of 9 Local Government Units and the Upper Silesian-Zagłębie Metropolis. The OECD held meetings with multiple executive authority institutions, and independent public institutions and non-governmental entities representing the civic society and academic community. All interviews contributed to OECD’s better understanding of the Polish context, supporting the process of recommending courses of action to reflect local and sector priorities. The Department director pointed to a recommendation crucial to the plans of his own ministry as well, one involving efforts to strengthen local-level institutional and municipal collaboration.

“Recommendations submitted by such a renowned organisation as the OECD are coming at a good time, as we have currently hit a change process. They will boost our efforts to make all new amendments possibly correct and efficient,” remarked Executive Director of the Office of the Association of Polish Cities Andrzej Porawski. “We are happy to find that the report points to the need of enhancing Local Government Units’ autonomy, also in financial terms.” He also referenced works essential to making collaboration between Local Government Units easier, expressing a belief that while opinions eliminating legal barriers (current provisions excessively rigid at times) making aforesaid co-operation tedious are unquestionably justified, Poland already boasts multiple good examples of such collaboration.

As some of these recommendations are excellent organisation solutions cities and towns can already implement pursuant to ordinances, for example, the Association Office director suggested that a series of workshops be organised to facilitate the process of introducing aforesaid recommendations to the daily practice of managing local governments.

Adam Ostry, Project Manager for the OECD Public Governance Directorate responsible for the project “Better Governance, Planning and Services in Local Self-Governments in Poland” (major “Local Development” Programme component) assured that the organisation will assist Poland in the process of implementing all recommendations drafted.

The report comprises an analysis of local policies and practices in 8 thematic areas with a public governance and territorial development focus, based on best international practices applied in OECD member and partner states. It also appraises municipal potential, offering recommendations regarding reforms for Poland.

An additional report chapter comprises a diagnosis of main economic, social, and demographic trends, strong sides and challenges faced by Polish municipalities and counties, and their respective impact on local development. The report has been supplemented by three summary evaluations presenting OECD recommendations for different types of Polish Local Government Units, as well as a self-assessment tool letting Polish Local Government Units identify their strong and weak sides in areas of public governance and local development practices.

During the online conference, report authors discussed key conclusions and recommendations, representatives of Polish Local Government Units ranking them by importance from their own perspective.