LGSP – Building Trends in Local Government
24 Mar 2016
By Blogging Consultant James Brindley
Enhancing the accountability and transparency of regional and district-level government in Uzbekistan has required persistent effort, since the inception of the first stage of the Local Government Support Project’ (LGSP) back in March 2010. Those efforts were not in vain, and have sparked changes in practice that have had long-term and quite influential impacts.
The project’s goal was as novel as it was ambitious – in all living memory centralised government was the norm, and local government saw itself as a channel for resources and decisions from higher ministries and departments to their regions. In brief, what LGSP sought to achieve was a shift to a model in which local government’s main purpose was to improve the lives of everyday people.
Now halfway through the implementation of LGSP’s second stage, we want to review what ideas have been ‘run with’ as a means of establishing significant change.
From pilots to national trends
The LGSP project has particularly triumphed in establishing bonds of trust with national government partners, as a means of boosting local-level development. The projects have ranged from innovate tourism development that supports communities, to eliminating reliance on paperwork, and details of many more earlier project initiatives can be found on its AKVO and Facebook pages.
While all the project’s work have been well received on a nationwide basis, two particularly noteworthy areas of work have been the establishment of One Stop Shops, and the development of local-level development plans.
When UNDP Administrator Helen Clark toured Uzbekistan in 2011, she visited a then recently-established One Stop Shop in the Sergeli district of Tashkent city. Being the only national prototype at the time, with an additional two established in following years in the Djizak and Namangan cities, the centres provided a brand new way of accessing a range of public services and information from one location.
Inspired by these early One Stop Shops, nationwide legislation has supported the opening of 194 facilities nationwide in 2015, guaranteeing simplified service access for businesses and entrepreneurs. Combined with better access to public information, this expansion represents a positive shifting attitude towards local government.
At the newly-established facilities, business registration and other procedures have been greatly simplified, while forms have been standardized and interaction between front and back offices have improved. Government commitment to service enhancement, combined with UNDP efforts to improve infrastructure, mean there is reason to believe change can be achieved.
The new year has also seen the development of three local-level government development strategies, specifically in the Tashkent, Djizak and Namangan regions, the latter two with an urban focus. The purpose of these strategies is to bring a localised, regional focus to development initiatives, with the recognition that each area of the country has its own unique development needs and requirements.
Combined with a new resolution that strengthens local government in playing a central role in implementing territorial development, these plans will allow local-level governments to use resources for the best possible outcomes, for the benefit of local residents.
Breaking New Ground
While part of the past two years of the Local Government Support Project has sought to expand on and consolidate previous gains, other initiatives have widened the breadth of work undertaken, and to lay a framework for achieving new milestones.
Work is continuing in terms of strengthening how local-level governments can better handle their affairs. In particular, a Functional Review of the Tashkent region khokimiyat has been tested as a means of simplifying and addressing gaps in how local governments manage regions. In addition, a capacity development programme has been implemented to help members of locally-elected councils utilize better oversight, representative and rulemaking functions.
Another major achievement has been advancements towards the adoption of a set of rules of ethical conduct in Uzbekistan’s civil service, following extensive government review, and continued support from UNDP. You can learn more about this document and its implications in an upcoming blog post.
From the outset, the purpose of the Local Government Support Project has been to try and strike a balance between expanding on previously-piloted initiatives, and laying groundwork for new projects. It's intended that this will continue into the next development project.
Please keep an eye on our blog to learn about more LGSP initiatives, and also visit the project webpage.