The opportunities and challenges presented by the global financial and economic crisis for public administration around the world have increased noticeably in the last few years.
Sha Zukang, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs said that “the crisis has underscored that market economies, when left to grow unfettered by sufficient regulations, can cause catastrophic damage. Clearly, improved government regulation and better public administration is needed…” He observed that “the role of public administrators has never been more critical.”
The growing importance of public governance in crisis prevention and management can be illustrated through three administrative realms: service delivery, institutional and human capacity building, and development management, all from citizen-centric perspectives.
This issue was one of central themes discussed at the 9th session of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration (CEPA) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 19-23 April 2010.
The discussion in the session reflected the underlying belief that the economic and financial crisis and the ensuing financial reform processes have moved the issues of public governance and administration to the center stage of development.
The Committee’s discussion of policy options focused on the necessity for speedy and coordinated policy response; leadership capacity development in the public sector; citizen-centered public service delivery; transparency and accountability; and social and financial protection for vulnerable groups.
H.E. Hamidon Ali, the President of the Economic and Social Council, in his opening address reminded the Committee that the 2010 Annual Ministerial Review theme would be on gender equality and empowerment of women and pointed out that “the crisis has put a disproportionate toll on women and that their empowerment and active participation in economic and political decision-making are indispensable to development.”
In its consideration of the 2010 Annual Ministerial Review theme on gender equality and empowerment of women, the Committee tackled the question of how public administration, through the appropriate use of information and communications technology (ICT), can engage women more actively in decision-making processes to ensure their empowerment and promote gender equality.
The Committee also focused on the importance of e-government and ICT in general. It urged stakeholders to enhance their support for citizen-centric e-government systems and approaches in the design, monitoring and implementation of policy in response to the current crisis, and in anticipation of potential crises to come.
The Committee will convene next year for its tenth session on 4-8 April, 2011.