Myths of the Administrative Reform
Many, if not most of the decision-makers, have developed certain understanding and beliefs in relation with the issues of the administrative reform. At the same time, their ideas have often developed without a deeper analysis.
The suggested solutions need not solve the actual problems that public administration is facing. The article explores some views and solutions that, on a closer look, turn out to be problematic. These views and solutions may be called myths – standpoints that are out of step with the reality. The article examines different problems that may be encountered in the course of the administrative reform and with which those who spread the myths do not always reckon. The article first demonstrates how dangerous it is to simplify the problems of public administration and their solutions. It is further explained that the myths derive from seeing a solution in privatisation, the possibility of using the experience of the private sector, separation of political decision-making and implementation, centralisation, optimisation of functions and structures, and equating citizens with customers. Finally, it is shown that there are no universal solutions or solutions that can be adopted from other countries. The views of the authors are based on theoretical literature on administrative reform and on extensive and long-term experience with administrative reforms in other countries. The views expressed in the article have been widely debated in developed countries; it is not merely a theoretical opinion but one on which practical decisions have been founded.
Tiina Randma-Liiv, born 1968, economic cyberneticist 1991, University of Tartu, MA in public administration 1993, New York University, Doctor 1999, University of Loughborough. Work: United Nations Economic and Social Development Department 1993, World Bank 1994, British Cabinet Office 1997. Member of the Advisory Board of the Administrative Reform, Head of the Estonian Expert Committee of the Baltic-American Partnership Programme, Estonian representative of the Network of Institutes and Schools of Public Administration in Central and Eastern Europe (NISPAcee). Head of the Department of Public Administration and Social Policy of the University of Tartu since its foundation in 1995. Affiliation: member of the council of the Centre for Political Research PRAXIS, deputy chairperson.
Taavi Annus, born 1977, BA in public administration and law 1998, University of Tartu, MA in law 1999, University of Marburg. Work: lecturer at the department of public administration and social policy of the University of Tartu 2000-, permanent expert of the Government for administrative reform 2000-.