Planning burden reduction for local administrations
Project team Planlasten
HR & Organizational Policy Unit
Public Governance Departement
Boudewijnlaan 30 bus 37, 1000 Brussels
T +32 2 553 02 38
More policy freedom, less planning burden
The Flemish Parliament Act on planning burdens - in full, the 'Flemish Parliament Act of 15 July 2011 laying down the general rules under which periodic planning and reporting obligations can be imposed upon local administrations in the Flemish Community and the Flemish Region' - wants to reduce the planning burden for local administrations and increase the scope for policymaking. How? By incorporating separate subsidy applications in the integral multi-annual plan of the local administration.
In its final report of May 2009, the Commission on Efficient and Effective Government (CEEO) advocates a drastic reduction of all planning and reporting obligations to the policy-relevant and management-relevant minimum and their integration in a comprehensive framework. The Commission did so, not because it does not believe in the instrument of planning (or reporting), but because strategic planning must always remain an instrument and may not become a goal in itself. The multitude of planning and reporting obligations for local and provincial administrations had been a thorn in the flesh for much longer. The administrative burden was too high for the local administrations in proportion to the means that were reserved for it.
BBC and the adult partnership
The Flemish coalition agreement 2009-2014 confirmed the recommendation of the Commission and sets the reduction of planning and reporting burdens for local administrations within the framework of a changing relation between the administrative levels, within the framework of reaching an adult partnership. In implementation of title IV of the organic Flemish Parliament Acts on the municipalities, the public centres for social welfare and the provinces, the Government of Flanders approved the Decree regarding the Policy and Management Cycle of the municipalities, the provinces and the public centres for social welfare on 25 June 2010. This Government of Flanders Decree, together with the Ministerial Order of 1 October 2010 providing specific interpretation on this subject, supplies the local administrations with a modern set of instruments regarding policy and management. The central focus is on the renewed planning and reporting cycle where financial information is linked to policy information (policy fields, policy objectives, action plans). The Flemish Parliament Act on planning burdens seized the opportunity to coordinate the existing sectoral planning and reporting obligations as much as possible on the renewed local planning and reporting cycle. In this manner, different plans that are currently made by the local administrations disappear (cultural policy plan, youth policy plan, ...) and are integrated in the multi-annual plan.
The Flemish Parliament Act on planning burdens is based on five principles:
- The use of BBC
- More policy freedom for the local administrations
- From input steering to output / outcome steering
- The importance of local participation
- Limitation of co-financing
Flemish policy priorities
On 26 October - as a result of the Flemish Parliament Act on planning burdens - the Government of Flanders announced the Flemish policy priorities for the 2014-2019 periodby circular letter BZ/2012/3 regarding the reduction of the planning and reporting obligations: announcement of the Flemish policy priorities. As of 2014, local administrations have more freedom to give form to a local policy of their own, as a result of the general introduction of the Policy and Management Cycle. Local administrations can subscribe to these Flemish policy priorities and receive subsidies for them. Lifting the sectoral plans and their integration in the local multi-annual planning results in a considerable reduction of the planning burdens and reporting obligations for the local administrations.
As a result of the introduction of the Policy and Management Cycle and the implementation of the Flemish Parliament Act on planning burdens, the local administrations are facing an important new step in the advancing professionalization of the local level. The Flemish authorities have created the necessary framework, but the real challenges now lie with the local administrations.