Ready for post-2015? A place to start in Moldova

09 Mar 2015

Every beginning is difficult: Read the authors’ first post on the Futurescaper experiment Every beginning is difficult: Read the authors’ first post on the Futurescaper experiment

In our previous blogs, we reflected on the nature of development complexities that emerged as part of our foresighting exercise in Moldova.

In this post, we will focus more on some of the specifics: What institutions should take the lead? What are the biggest institutional challenges?What are key recommendations?

Leaders, not followers

Omne initium difficile est goes the Latin saying. This is especially applicable when it comes to public institutions taking the lead in adapting the Sustainable Development Goals.

As the issues emerging from our first experiment with Futurescaper are largely crosscutting, the government and parliament appeared as the main actors to lead the charge.

All in all, this outlines the need for intra-governmental coordination and communication, which will be crucial for any success.

Another important institutional ingredient will be leadership: It is critical that our institutions have the capacity to take the risks and demonstrate political will.

Tall orders of tomorrow

With the world around us in flux, traditional institutional hierarchies and business-as-usual solutions are being upended; however, many internal predicaments sound all too familiar. Our survey highlights eight of them.

Again, even from the first glance at the graph, it is clear this is not a series of predicaments, but an interconnected web. Take corruption: It is both a by-product of other institutional weaknesses and a trigger for other issues.

Corruption is also closely linked with low transparency, which doesn’t appear to be an important asset for many institutions.

High corruption is an important triggering factor for low public trust in state institutions, low quality of laws and public services – and it undermines the coordination efforts within – and among – our institutions.

A tangled web we weave

With this nebulous interconnected set of issues mapped out above, what are the means for moving forward?

We grouped recommendations from the respondents into six thematic areas:

1. Better – not more – public servants

The public sector is the biggest employer in Moldova; however, motivation among public employees is often low and public jobs not very attractive.

We need to: find ways to allow for more flexibility in personnel structures, enact proper performance evaluation, and make entrance criteria tighter and more transparent.

2. More accountable institutions

Increased hiring flexibility and higher wages need to go hand-in-hand with more social accountability, which is nowadays often lacking.

We need: better monitoring and reporting frameworks, more inclusive policy design and implementation, and social accountability fostered through various tools, such as stakeholder report cards.

3. Better internal governance to improve efficiency

We need: transparency awareness amongst staff, better horizontal communication across institutions, and wider use of ICT tools.

4. Increasing transparency of public institutions

The framework is there but implementation lags. In 2013, 47 percent of all policy topics discussed by ministries did not comply with the legal requirements on decision-making transparency.

We need to: put in place ‘sticks’ and ‘carrots’ for more open and transparent institutions and public monitoring frameworks, set well-understood criteria for public funding allocation, and promote open data policies.

5. Putting corruption on the leash

The consultations identified corruption as one of Moldovan public institutions’ main weaknesses. Some of the aforementioned steps would dent corruptions.

However, we also need to: limit discretion of public officials by cutting red tape and streamlining service journey for the users be it citizens or businesses.

6. Boosting political independence 

This is seen as one of the tools to overcome state capture.

We need to: increase transparency of funding of political parties and tilt balance in favor of technocrats as opposed to politicians.

To be sure this list is just a place to start.

The quest for fitter institutions will be ongoing, and will vary from one context to another.

However, as we adventure into the swiftly changing territories of governance we see an increasing demand for transparency, inclusiveness, accountability and responsiveness. Our survey has also shown a strong focus on the use of new tech, as well as new ways of citizen-state engagement.

Ultimately, with goals clearer then path forward, experimentation and innovation may hold the keys for readying our institutions for the future.

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