European Public Sector Award
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Call for Applications: 17 January-25 March 2011

THEME 1 "Smart Public Service Delivery in a Cold Economic Climate"



OBJECTIVE OF THE CALL

The European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA) - mandated by its Board of Governors and with the institutional and financial support of 11 European countries and the European Commission - invites applications to the third European Public Sector Award - EPSA 2011. The EPSA 2011 will be awarded on the occasion of a high-level event on leading-edge public administration solutions, which will be held on 15-17 November 2011 in Maastricht (NL), under the auspices of the Polish Presidency. This event thus presents a unique opportunity for European administrations with innovative performance and achievements to reach an extensive audience and to be recognised as being leading edge at the European level.



GENERAL BACKGROUND


Against the background of a rapidly changing social, economic and environmental context in the 21st Century, EPSA contributes to the progress of the performance of public administrations by highlighting exemplary models of proactive approaches that address Europe's most pressing public concerns, whilst providing a platform for the public sector innovators behind these cases to disseminate their achievements.

The aftermath of the financial and economic crisis poses a true challenge not only to the private sector but also to the public sector. Furthermore, in alignment with the EU 2020 strategy, local, regional, national as well as European public administrations are expected to meet the ambitious vision of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth for the future of the European Union. It is therefore even more important to highlight and reward public excellence in administrations that are finding innovative responses in times of budgetary constraints and are succeeding in delivering outstanding public services.

EPSA will reward those projects which address European public sector challenges and are crucial drivers for change in the way that public administrations function in the 21st Century. In turn, these projects will provide an insight into proactive approaches of hundreds of public administrations facing current challenges such as climate change, the supply and sources of energy, demographic change, rising unemployment and social exclusion.

In this context, in the past three years, governments across Europe have been facing mounting pressures on their public finances arising from the need to stabilise the financial services sector. This has led to pressure for changes in the way public services are delivered, as well as a re-assessment of the scope and nature of services to be provided by public authorities, independently of the way in which they are delivered. It has also led to the need to establish more accurate and service-oriented measurement tools to ensure that the scarcer resources now available to the public sector are being used effectively.



SPECIFIC CONTEXT OF THE TOPIC


The pressures on public finances currently faced by public administrations across Europe are severe though not unique. For example, the United Kingdom in the 1970s, Ireland in the 1980s and Sweden and Canada in the 1990s faced very painful choices with regard to stabilising public finances.

But what is unprecedented in modern times is the number of European public administrations simultaneously facing these pressures. The recognition of the existence of a crisis in public finances was provoked by the financial contributions needed to stabilise the financial services sector, though in fact there has been an underlying trend towards gradually less sustainable public finances over the past decade arising from some of the factors highlighted above, such as an ageing population, a diminishing working population and increasing competitive pressures from outside Europe. These are in addition to other pressures facing public administrations, such as the need to make governments more responsive to society's needs and demands, and the need to (re-)establish trust between citizens and public administrations. Furthermore, it is widely recognised that there are limits to the extent to which tax increases can be used to stabilise the public finances.

As might be expected in such circumstances, the responses of European public administrations have varied in their scope, scale, nature and effectiveness. However, the need to respond effectively has never been greater - what is at stake here is the preservation of the means to support Europe's social model for future generations.

Can public administrations rise to the challenge of stabilising public finances and preventing another shock from the financial services sector while delivering a high quality of public services? Will this mean abandoning attempts to address diversity issues? Can they also simultaneously protect employment and promote employability? How will this be measured?

This topic is looking for showcase projects based on how public administrations are responding to these challenges and balancing these competing demands in a difficult economic climate.


WHAT PROJECTS/CASES TO SUBMIT?

Projects under THEME 1 should demonstrate and contain elements of proven evidence on one of the following sub-topics:

1. Successful changes in the means of service delivery between internal and external service delivery or between different types of external service delivery, successful internal re-organisation of service delivery, successful introduction of shared services, etc.
Success could be defined as:
 Improved quality or volume of service delivery at the same or lower cost;
 Maintaining diverse service objectives and quality whilst reducing costs;
 Delivery of a redefined level of service scope at a significantly lower cost whilst respecting statutory obligations;
 Delivery of much higher levels of service standards at, proportionately, a much lower level of cost increase.

2. Examples of an imaginative definition of qualitative and quantitative performance measurement tools demonstrating a link to service objectives. Specifically, projects can be submitted which relate to changing the performance measurement tools in an administration or part of an administration even where there is no change to the means of service delivery. They should include details of the process of how the performance measurement tools were changed and the result of the change, i.e. details of the better performance measurement tools which resulted from the process and how they are closely linked to the service they are trying to measure.



WHO MAY APPLY?

All European public sector institutions from all levels - with special attention to local and regional approaches, as well as public sector enterprises, agencies or public-private partnerships - are eligible to submit their projects for the award. Other eligibility criteria to be fulfilled are:

- European geographical origin of the application;
- Compliance with the themes (one thematic area per project only) of the EPSA 2011 competition;
- The working language of the EPSA 2011 is English, thus it is strongly recommended to submit projects in English;
- The lead applicant must be a public sector institution or authority (other applicants - in a consortium for example - can be private, semi-public, NGO or  academic);
- The application/project/case must have been in operation long enough to have proven evidence of impact and a tangible result;
- Completed application form;
- Confirmation that the application has been submitted (i.e. notification mail) before deadline (hrs).


GENERAL STATEMENT FOR PROJECT APPLICANTS

It is encouraged to submit projects showing consideration of gender mainstreaming, technology (ICT-enabled solutions) and sustainability aspects. In addition, those projects benefiting from EU supportive actions, such as the European Social Fund Administrative Capacity Building priority, are especially invited to submit their achievements.


ENTRY QUALIFICATION, EVALUATION PHASES AND SELECTION CRITERIA

The submitted applications will first be checked for eligibility. If the eligibility criteria are met, a registration number will be allocated and the project is subsequently subject to evaluation. The project will then be reviewed and assessed online against both the general and theme specific criteria by three evaluators from an internationally acknowledged, independent and impartial pool of experts. The evaluation process subsequently includes a consensus meeting and on-site visits to a small number of short-listed projects per theme for validation and verification purposes. Finally, a jury will select the nominees/finalists and final winners of the EPSA 2011.


4-STEP EVALUATION PROCESS

STEP 1: Individual online evaluation
By each evaluator, in isolation and remotely based. Each project will be evaluated by three evaluators (triple evaluation) (2-6 May 2011)

STEP 2: Consensus meeting
To reach a commonly agreed list of ranked projects per theme - the best practice certificate recipients - and to agree on a number of projects to be verified during on-site visits (26-27 May 2011)

STEP 3: On-site validation visits
To a number of short-listed projects for verification (June 2011)

STEP 4: Jury meeting
To select and decide on the three EPSA winners (one per theme) (5-6 September 2011)

SELECTION CRITERIA

When submitting their projects, applicants should pay particular attention to the following general criteria used for the selection of the best projects:
1. Innovation: novelty of the solution; degree to which the case shows a leap of creativity in the practice of public administration; something different that goes beyond what currently exists;
2. Public concern: extent to which the case addresses a pressing need or important problem of public concern; the project topic is high on the agenda in European public organisations, a critical mass of public sector bodies are tackling the issue;
3. Sustainability: the project shows or describes elements which are going beyond the period of the project implementation/delivery (after the planned and realised objectives and activities);
4. Impact: the provision and illustration of proven evidence, benefits and visible impact; tangible results demonstration;
5. Learning capacity and transferability: the lessons learnt and the potential value to other entities; the project provides the potential for successful replication by other governments; it stimulates improvement in its application and provides mutual learning perspectives.

Applications submitted under THEME 1 will furthermore be judged against the following specific criteria under this topic:
1. Balancing cost change with change in service standards;
2. Link between service objectives and measurement indicators;
3. Evidence of consideration in the review process of diverse service objectives.


EPSA 2011 AT A GLANCE

Official Launch: 17 January 2011
Information Days: October 2010 - March 2011
Opening of Call for Applications: 17 January - 25 March 2011
Online Evaluation: 2-6 May 2011
Consensus Meeting: 26-27 May 2011
On-site Visits to Short-listed Projects: June 2011
Final Selection: 5-6 September 2011
Award Ceremony in Maastricht: 15-17 November 2011



WHEN AND HOW TO APPLY?

The online application period is open from 17 January until 25 March (24hrs) 2011.

The online application form can be found in the "Applicants Area" on the EPSA website: www.epsa2011.eu

Prior online registration is required.

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