About Bogdan Craciun
The present paper is a study that analyses the quality of public services from Romania. Further to this analyze is proposed a budgetary strategy that could have as final result the improving of public services’ quality.
The study is organized in seven chapters. The first chapter is a background introducing the main discontents of population regarding the public service environment, and trying to find out where the problem is, according to the mass-media disclosures. In the second chapter is presented the CPBV process concept.
The third is a summary of previous solutions used in dealing with similar problems.
The fourth chapter is analyzing up to what extent the new process proposed could help in improving the quality of Romanian public service sector.
In the fifth chapter is detailed the concept of service quality and builds the framework for the process proposed.
The sixth chapter is listing the expected benefits and the possible limits of the strategy.
The final chapter is constituted by conclusions.
I express my gratitude for Mr. Simon De-Lay’s comments and guidance received when this paper was elaborated.
I.1. Romanian Background
Starting with 1st of January 2007 Romania is EU member. This obliges Romania to adopt policies and rules according to the EU’s vision. Bureaucratically speaking, many of the rules and procedures required by EU member status are lawfully adopted. It seems that Romania is heading the right direction. But, as in an old Romanian saying: “The theory as theory, but the application is what kills us!”, the reality shows something else.
Excerpts picked up from the Romanian mass-media can provide the reader with a view of public’s perception regarding the public services in Romania; the widespread public opinion catalogues the public services as inefficient and ineffective. The main causes seem to be: corruption, excessive political influence, unprofessional management, and a general lack of interest regarding the very purpose of public service institution.
19th of April 2001: “A group of Liberal councillors from City Council express their discontent regarding the fact that RAGCL and Urban Trans SA, despite of being directly subordinated to City Council and providing services absolutely necessary for population, their activities bring losses to local budget”. (Modiga, 2001)
15th of December 2005: “Romanian economy had, and still has, many black holes. A black hole is the place where the public money hugely pour in, a few (or some more) smart boys get rich, and the taxpayer is discontent that the money he pays through taxes do not return to him in services. A black hole could be a State enterprise, a national company, as well as the health system. Because only such can be called the place where the State allocates three to four times more money (in currency) than five years ago, the services are not better, the hospitals endowment did not improve […]”. (Popescu, 2005)
2007: “The governors perceive the budget as an endless sack: budget it pays for the public servants’ pensions, salaries and holidays, and erases debts. The fact that the State is the worst administrator is not new for anyone. Many of the companies that still belong to the State are used as vehicles for electoral charity. As politician, you simply cannot let the engine of votes to die, but you erase its debts, preferring to go with it seized up. The private companies, in return, are forced executed”. (Rusu, 2007)
17th of August 2007 “Starting with the prefect and ending with the hired of the public institutions of Botosani, have spent thousands of lei (Romanian currency) for trips abroad: for lobby, to conclude contracts or for exchange of experience, being followed by colleagues or football teams; everything with money from budget. Spain, France, Belgium, Great Britain or Sweden, these are the preferences of local elected ones”. (BotosaniNews, 2007)
The examples above prove that the public service is in Romania an old story, with many characters that contribute and influence the development of the script: politicians, governors, public managers, ordinary public servants, act as they have a common enemy: the taxpayer.
Politicians work for their own interests, which are personal or group interests. The enacted laws follow docile their wishes. The public money is at their disposal. No sum limits, nobody to be accountable to. The electoral defeats do not count too much. The enemies in Parliament become friends in economical interests when the doors shut. The best business is with the State, so there is an obvious preference for no (or fake) auctions in public service contracting; large networks of friends, relatives and highest bribers benefit of extracting public money in return for almost nothing: expensive services and products, little quality included. Quality is defied as could stop the pour of money for weak services or products, performance is avoided, and criticism for improving the situation is a good reason for getting fired (because you try to put at risk the state of affairs).
I.2. What do the citizens know about budgeting?
Citizens’ voices will not be heard too much. They just pay too much, for almost nothing.
I have undertaken a research by compiling a survey (annex 1). The answers received to this survey’s questions showed that 92% of respondents have no idea what percentage of their salary contributes to the central budget. 85% do not know which public institutions have as financial source the allocations from central budget. 46% do not know what services they should receive from each public institution, while 34% have a vague idea regarding the services provided by the traditional public institutions: school and health. When asked what if are satisfied with the services currently received from public institutions, 88% of respondents declared unsatisfied with the quality of the services they receive.
The conclusion of this survey is that generally the public does not have too much knowledge of the way the public services work. It is the administration representatives and the politicians (the keys keepers of the public money’s safe) who want to maintain this state in order to profit better of public money, without being accountable to anyone.
I.3. The main cause of poor public service
I believe that the main cause of the poor public service in Romania is the mentality of all public servants, starting with top manager and ending with the ordinary clerk. Personal interests are prioritized, and little concern for public interest is showed. Romanian public service is a system that has in place all the necessary laws; but a weak justice system is unable to penalize the breaking of the law.
Romanian public service is subordinated to the political influence. Politicians and high level public managers use discretionary the budgetary funds; they decide to keep alive with public money bankrupt State enterprises; is this manner is bought the social peace: State guarantees, subventions, inefficient credits granted by State banks. After the moment of paying the taxes, citizens have no means of control on how and where the money was spent.
In order to institute the citizens’ control on allocations of central budget funds, it is needed a process that enables keeping the politicians and public managers accountable and their actions transparent. One experience that allowed citizens to monitor the use of the budgets is the participatory budgeting, as it was developed in Brazilian cities of Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte.
Using the Brazilian experience in participatory budgeting, and the concept of earmarking, I propose a new strategy (called Citizen Participation in Budget Venues – CPBV), adapted to Romanian social environment, strategy that allows citizens’ budgetary monitoring, even from the budget preparation stage.
The improvement of public service’ quality and a positive impact on Romanian democracy could be achieved by this strategy.
In the following chapter I shall analyze the difference between the bureaucratic declarations regarding the state of public services and the public’s perception on this state.
I.4. Causes of the present situation of public services in Romania
Analyzing the public service environment in Romania, it can be identified quite a large gap between what governors declare they want to achieve, and what people see as being achieved.
The Romanian Government initiated in 2001 a program of reforming the Public services. By implementing the reform, Government aims to create a framework able to institutionalize the quality of Public services; in other words, Government creates a framework (banking on laws, procedures codes, monitoring and audit rules) with the declared goal to obtain better services. There are some analyses of the present state of the administrative reform in Romania.
These are mainly Governmental reports, “Report regarding the achievement of Program of governing after two years of mandate, March, 2007” being one of them. This report provides a comparison between the stated goals of the Program and the present achievements, noting in a rather glorifying manner the results and neglecting, in a great extent, the under achievements and especially the causes of under achievements.
In my research I could not find coherent reports regarding the perception manifested by the end-users of the public services. I am aware of a large scale popular, every-day, discontent with the general performance of the Government, but cannot be found studies and reports that evaluate the public services in an scientifically and coordinated manner.
For diagnosing the present state of customer satisfaction with public services, were used Gallup Organization Romania’s surveys. The topics of these surveys are only tangential related to the domain of this research, and generally the data found is scarce and more or less connected to the state of public service delivery in Romania.
In order to understand better the real situation in Romanian public service area, it was applied the SERVQUAL thinking, by trying to identify the existing gaps between the mentalities and expectations manifested by Parliamentarians (and other public arena decision makers) on one side and those of ordinary citizens on the other side; the same thinking was used for identifying the internal gaps between the reform demands as expressed by public service top management and the perception of the reform results held by executive public servants
I.4.1. Differences of opinion between ordinary citizens and Parliamentarians
Romanian Governments have put on paper numerous public services reform strategies. Governmental functionaries and Parliament representatives together use frequently in their speeches concepts as “better services”, “performance measurements”, “human resources development”.
Dinca (2006) considers that the present stage of reform in public services show “rigidity and incapacity of adaptation to new requirements, lack of responsibilities, non-existence of loyal competition and the lack of transparency”. (Dinca, 2006, p. 30)
But ordinary citizens ceased to trust the words and promises and believe only in what they see. What they experience day by day makes 62% of them declare that in one year’s time they believe their life will be the same or worse (The Gallup Organization/Rusu survey, 2004). Even if there is no direct link between the above percentage and the quality of public services, I just can speculate that bad public services may have an influence on this perception.
The survey brings out the striking contrast between the conceptions and mentalities proved by politicians on one side and by ordinary citizens on the other side. 40% of citizens answer that the State should assume more responsibility for every citizen’s welfare, while only 22% of politicians chose the same answer. If 63% of citizens agree that some branches of economy and the public services are too important to be let in count of private enterprises, while only 17% of parliamentarians agree with the above statement.
In Romania, as anywhere else, the Parliamentarians are those who decide on laws. If the way they perceive and understand citizens’ needs differs so much of the way ordinary citizens express their own needs, we can only assume that what policy decision do not match with citizens’ need.
Why is perpetuated such a situation? The answer could be either: the parliamentarians want to find out citizens’ needs but do not have any process to help them. Or, the second answer could be a bluntly: they simply do not care; consequently, they do not bother to find out.
The politicians’ lack of social interest connected with the lack of accountability demands from ordinary citizens, makes a clear picture explaining how is possible to perpetuate this situation.
Anyone who lived in a democratic country would ask: why do not ordinary people keep the politicians and governors accountable? Why they do not use their rights to make their demands heard?
In order to find an answer to this question, is needed to be understood a cultural aspect of Romanian citizen. After a dictatorial regime as communism was, where the terror of denunciation after a chat with a “friend” (and of being taken to Security’s cellars for an “unconventional” – and maybe painful – interview) was a daily matter even in 1989 – the year of the Revolution –, is easier to be understood people’s reluctance to join into associations with each other. This reluctance to associations is still powerful even in June 2006, when 62% of Rusu/Gallup’s surveyed citizens believe “that most people cannot be trusted”. This answer reveals the Romanian dimension of democracy: fragmented and contradictory.
CPBV addresses both politicians’ lack of social interest, and the lack of accountability towards citizen, determining on short-term and long-term the desired outcomes: accountability and interest for public problems.
I.4.2. Public servants’ hopes for future
The Government represents the Public service institutions at the highest level. The reports on public services’ reform situation compiled by Government represent in the same time a summary of the activities undertaken for reform, and a form of auto evaluation.
The Romanian Government Report (2007) looked over the achievements of the last two years and proves that a performant public service framework is in place. There are laws enacted that regulate each individual service’s domain (e.g. law for organizing and functioning of water supply and sewerage public service, law for organizing and functioning of public lighting); there are laws for decentralizing of institutions, fiscally and at management level; there are procedures, as is CAF (Auto evaluation Framework of the way the public administration functions); there are in action procedural rules and codes of conduct for public servants. The Romanian Public Service has the right system in place for providing good services.
But seen from inside, the public administration reform’s results are perceived extremely negative by the public servants. The Gallup/IPP (2004) survey expresses the findings on public servants’ perceptions regarding the effect of the reform of public administration. Only 8.3% of respondents consider that the Government’s legislative measures are well compiled and implemented, while 89% believe that these measures are incompetent structured from the beginning (40.6%) or, if these legislative measures were well structured, they are wrongly applied (48.3%). When asked to identify the causes of wrong applying of the legislative measures, 42.4% of public servants declare they do not have enough information in order to identify them (are people afraid to speak the truth, or they simply do not know?). As the survey concludes, these data suggest that public servants have a negative opinion and attitude towards the quality of public administration reform process. More, “the risk of de-commitment of public servants for reform process is a real one and this fact is making more difficult the transforming of public servants into performant professionals” (Gallup/IPP, 2004, p. 119) is the final conclusion of the survey.
The survey brings to light another important issue: what can motivate the public servant. 87% answer that a bigger salary is the main motivator for a better performance. The survey’s administrators think “a mentality of ‘I work because I am paid’ ignoring any other form of professional satisfaction is very detrimental on long-term for public servants’ profesionalization” (Gallup/IPP, 2004, p. 115). The perception of corruption is widespread: 62% of public servants consider that corruption is generalized at all levels. When asked "what is the purpose of the activity in their institution", some respondents answered: “in some degrees, the institutions serves obscure interests of certain persons or groups that pursue obtaining of personal benefits” (Gallup/IPP, 2004, p. 113).
The Gallup/IPP (2004) survey reveals that the public administration is under political pressure. 55% of public servants believe that local political factors have a decisive role in hiring of new public servants, 15% consider that this practice is a rule, not an exception. The political membership is perceived as a reason for better treatment when the public servants belong to the party that won the local elections, while 7% complain of worse treatment because they belong to the party in opposition. It is important to note that the law forbids any discriminatory manifestation. (Gallup/IPP, 2004, p. 114)
The survey indicates another characteristic that impedes on reform’s success: 70% of respondents (which are public servants) feel that both their peers and hierarchical superior are reluctant to change. Reform equals change, and the resistance to change is in fact the cause of the reform’s fiasco.
As the salaries are exteriorly determined, especially in public sector,
people feel they cannot influence it in any way; not performance and competence is at the core of financial reward, but relationships and nepotism, membership to a political group or a group of interests. It is obvious that the professional attitude of public servants is the result of an environment that prohibits efforts towards performance.
All the above considerations take us to a unique problem: the top management.
The Gallup/IPP (2004) survey revealed that top management of Romanian public service is reluctant to change. More, it seems that a bottom-up approach, in which the executive public servant would try to influence the top management for reform could not be attainable as 51% of surveyed public servants do not feel encouraged to comment and to disagree the decisions of their superiors (Gallup/IPP, 2004, p. 113).
As the role of the top management in inducing and implementing change is essential, a question arises: how can the top management be determined to move from exclusively political and personal interests, to involvement with the reform.
Firstly, I believe that the old habits cannot be changed by reform. I strongly believe that a genuinely reform can take place only with new top management personnel. And secondly, if are taken into account all previously noted factors, I believe that CPBV strategy is the process that can pull the reform process.
In this paper I try to identify the relation between causes and the effects that affect the public services in Romania, and suggest a solution aimed to achieve real improvements in public services’ quality. The strategy we propose is called Citizen Participation in Budget Venues (CPBV) and the mechanism is described hereinafter.
II.1. The process of CPBV
By law, every Romanian working citizen is obliged to pay a tax on income. In present this tax is 25.5% of gross income. After the tax is paid, the citizen finds no further trace of what is done with this money.
It seems that the root of this problem stays in the way the taxes are defined in Romania. The benefit principle of taxation: “people should contribute to taxation according to the benefits they receive from Government expenditure” (Carling, 2007, p. 2) as expressed by the early writers on tax, cannot be found in the way the Romanian National Institute for Statistics defines the taxes on income: “the current taxes on income, wealth a.s.o. cover all compulsory, unrequited payments (my emphasize), in cash or in kind, levied periodically by general Government and by the rest of the world […]” (Romanian National Institute for Statistics, 2005, chapter 11, p. 8)
I think that this view on taxes is a reason for the fact that taxpayers do not know how money is used, for what purposes and with what results.
It is generally accepted that this money contributes to the central budget. From budget money is distributed towards all the obligations assumed by Government, including public services. In 2005 the share of total budgetary venues represented by income from taxes on income and social insurances represented 39.68%, while for 2006 this share was of 39.98%.
CPBV is a process that enables each working citizen to direct the 25.5% tax from his salary towards the ministries that provide the services he is most interested to benefit from, or he is satisfied with; the amount of the share directed towards ministries is totally under citizen’s decision.
For every financial year, the citizen uses a form and fills in personal choices related to the ministries that receive a share of salary taxes (figure 1). This information is fed into a national database. As consequence of their contribution, the citizens are entitled to access the chosen public service.
Each Ministry receives from the CPBV national data base the information regarding the amount of money people decided to direct towards them. Each Ministry knows exactly what the citizens’ needs for their services are.
In CPBV the citizen pre-pays the services he finds important for his present needs. The citizen can access a service not included in his distribution only by paying a fee.
This is a sample
Fiscal year ……………
ID Number of the Employee
1234567890 (employer fills in)
2500 RON (employer fills in)
Tax to be allocated
Government’s Recommendation for Allocation
Employee’s decision of allocation
Ministry of Education
Ministry of Health
Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Transport
Ministry of Agriculture
Ministry of Culture
Ministry of Internals
I declare hereby that the data above are correct
Notes: 1) The certificates that are not filled in (or contain mistakes), will not be taken into consideration. By default, for all these anterior cases, will be used the allocation as per Government’s recommendation.
2) The unsigned certificates will not be accepted.
II.2. Timeline of the CPBV process
The system of CPBV does not contradict the timeline of the present system of budgeting in Romania, as described by Law 500/2002.
I shall refer to the budgeted year as number i, the year previous to the budgeted year is noted i – 1.
Here is the timeline for the present budgeting process:
By 1st June year i – 1: Ministry of Finance (MoF) communicates the limits of spending for each ministry for year i;
By 15th July year i – 1: Budgetary proposals from ministries are sent back to MoF;
By 30th September year i – 1: MoF sends to Government the State budget proposal;
By 15th of October year i – 1: Government sends the State budget proposals to Parliament.
In CPBV the data would be collected before 1st of July, when the ministries proceed on formulating their budgetary proposals, under the spending limits received from MoF.
The timeline of the CPBV process:
1. The employer downloads from the MoF site, or receives by mail, the formulary of Fiscal Certificate (FC);
2. The employees fill in the FC with their own allocation decisions or agree with those recommended by Government, formulary that they will sign;
3. Up to end of May, the employer must bring all the FC’s to MoF;
4. MoF centralizes data from all the employers into a central database, which allows diverse search and sort possibilities to extract various statistical information; this is one of the most important functions of CPBV for policy decision making;
5. In the first year of CPBV, MoF certifies the allocations through an individual, nominative FISCAL CARD (FCD), which is then sent to employers for distribution to all employees. With this card it can be activated only the data base from MoF, which contains the FC data.
6. MoF presents Government and Parliament the results of CPBV, for analyse and for elaborating future strategies for public services;
7. MoF sends by first of June the results of CPBV allocation towards all the beneficiary Ministries, these preparing the budgetary over-funds calls.
During the budgetary year, MoF receives from Chamber of Work updates regarding the employees’ status (change of job, salary amendments), and amends the database accordingly.
With every public service use, the employee presents the FCD to the service providing institution; this accesses the database from MoF and gets all the relevant data regarding the taxpayer. In consequent budgetary years, MoF only updates the database, using fresh information from new FC, with the new budgetary options. FCD remains the same.
In the classic budget settlement the main decision makers are: Government, Ministry of Finance, Prime Minister, Parliament, other institutions subordinated to MoF, In CPBV the citizen becomes part of the decisional process.
II. 3. The overall expected impact of CPBV
In this process the citizens direct the budgetary funds straight to the ministries whose services they need or are satisfied with. It is avoided in this way the Governments’ interference (which proved so far to behave discretionary and incapable to handle correctly and efficiently the financial resources). The Ministries have the freedom to use the budget received from citizens in a way that allows the fulfilling of their promises, according to the projects approved by Government; they are allowed to establish the levels of salaries and bonuses granted to their employees (and this is the most important motivational factor for public servants in this stage of development). Ministries need to prove that money were efficiently, as a consequence in the following year could to benefit again of the same funds (or maybe bigger), and resulted from CPBV allocations. In other words, if a Ministry does not perform with real results, (spends money on useless projects, is not able to motivate the ordinary public servants to have a high professional and ethical standard), the unsatisfied citizen will penalize by allocating a smaller percentage next year, or by totally giving up the services provided by that ministry and choosing a private service provider.
The Ministries will be encouraged for transparency. They will have to share on websites their present and future projects, the budgets and the way it were spent. In the budget preparation stage, the Ministries have to report for last year’s activity. Then they have to advertise with citizens future goals of the Ministry.
Accountability will be enhanced as there will be open reports of how where the funds used and with what results.
Ministries will have to advertise future projects, trying to persuade the citizens to allocate towards them the CPBV shares.
In this way the public institutions will adopt the market principles, will get into competition with the other public institutions (in their struggle for bigger percentages) and with private providers of similar services (they need to keep the same level of quality of the services, in order to keep the customer – their citizen in this case – loyal).
I need to emphasize that the citizen cannot decide not to allocate at all the 25.5%, they only can decide toward what ministries their tax share goes to, avoiding the present Governmental/parliamentary allocation of central budget.
It is obvious that through CPBV process only a part of the central budget is under citizen direct control. The other sources of central budget, apart of taxes on income can be collected and could be subject of usual budgetary process. As a result of CPBV, the central budget is constituted of venues earmarked for providing certain public services and venues from other sources than tax on income, that constitute the necessary funds required by macro economical balances.
The citizen turn from anonymous tax-payer into citizen-customer looking for at least a standard service quality; the public institutions become aware that if they do not provide services at an expected quality, they might have less pre-paid customers next years, thus, a smaller budget and bigger constraints for their activities.
The Government in CPBV will decide the appropriateness of allocating resources from central budget to support the ministries that still need a balance of money for their activity. The Government guards the correct spending of funds. The Government uses the results offered by CPBV (the most realistic and pragmatic research regarding the demand for a certain service) as a guide for future policies and strategies regarding public services.
III.1. Antecedents of budgetary concepts related to CPBV
Budgetary participation had different meanings in different concepts.
One of the most well-known concepts is the Participatory Budgeting in Brazilian cities.
Souza (2000) indicates that the concept of Participatory Budgeting (PB) in Brazilian cities was applied at the local Government level. The process engages citizens with low-income to decide upon the allocations of a part of local revenues towards those investments which are considered to be a priority for that community. As in the centre of the process is the poor community, the size of the part from local revenues which was addressed by the citizens’ allocative decision was established using a distribution criteria; by this criteria, a progressive distribution of the resources was intended towards the poor areas, so that poor areas received more funding than the well off ones, while at regional level, the share of investments was direct proportional to the level of poverty of the region.
PB revealed that the priorities of the people differ from those imagined by local Government (Souza, 2000, p. 14)
In explaining the causes of the good results of the PB in Brazilian cities, Souza (2000) presents the associative characteristics of the inhabitants of Porto Allegre: “38.4% of people belong to a civic association, 92.2% follow the current events”; in 1989 the study reveals that 60% of population had a history in protest-based activism.
The first effect of PB identified by the study is that by being involved in the decision process regarding the investments in their community, it was encouraged participation with the direct result of “heightening citizenship” which was regarded even more valuable than “the material gains” (Souza, 2000, p. 1).
The increase of Government transparency was the second effect of Participatory Budgeting, as “public resources and expenditures are disclosed to PB participants and to the media, discouraging negotiations based on vested interests, such as those facilitating clientelism and/or corruption. Decision-making becomes more transparent bringing into the open both the choices about how to spend part of the budget and the bulk resources (Souza, 2000, p. 19).
The improvement of accountability is the third effect of PB. There were compiled and made public lists with names and addresses of the person held accountable; websites offered information regarding PB procedures and results; communication between executives and citizens improved and it was considered to be one of the reasons of PB success. It is hard to believe that accountability process allows much innovation, but how else than innovative can be considered the creation of “cultural markets”, which means that community’s delegates were going from area to area to promote PB. The PB had a snowball effect, by triggering participatory engagement of social groups, other than the low-income citizens.
The fourth effect was that through PB “unorganized people were transformed into members of a civil society that can influence (but not decide - my emphasize) issues that directly affect them.” (Souza, 2000, p. 24)
There is an interesting point of view expressed by Navarro. He believes that PB could be generalized if certain preconditions are satisfied:
“1. political will to cede power to associations; 2. political posture to avoid clientelism; 3. fiscal control; 4. resources to be invested” (Souza, 2000. p. 26)
Some of the limits of PB identified by study were: as PB reflects the priorities of the poor, what about the priorities of non-participants? Among the non-participants were counted the poorest and the less-educated, which have as main concern not the infrastructure issues but have survival concerns (cost of living, low salary, job opportunities). The study observes that as income rises above the minimum wage, voters’ concerns shift to the provision of public goods and services.
PB main result is that “increases the capacity of the excluded social groups to influence decisions on the allocations of public resources, and increases the access to basic urban services for the poor” (Souza, 2000, p. 27). Through recurring changes in rules and procedures, PB proved to be a learning process, “a state-sponsored experience” (Souza, 2000, p. 32)
III.2. The inadequacy of the Brazilian experience to Romania
Brazilian participatory budgeting has as prerequisites the political will for community empowerment and the community availability for participation. None of them can be found in Romania.
Citizens do not have the habit of using the associative prerogatives in order to fight for their rights. Putnam (1993) showed “using a complex methodology that the level of civic development is responsible for both the economical success and for institutional performance” (quoted in Sandu et al., 2006, p. 137). Sandu et al. (2006) conclude using the results of the large anthropological and sociological survey they undertook that “we can speak more about a non-interest for politics than an interest” (Sandu et al., 2006, p. 139). On top of this unconcern with politics is the fact that only one fifth of the population considers that it can really influences in any way the important decisions. 73% are absolutely sure that political parties are more interested in winning the elections, than in solving people’s problems; 55% are totally sure that the change of political power does not bring a change in ordinary people’s lives.
Souza (2000) finds out that the good results from PB in Brazilian cities are generated by the associative characteristics of the citizens.
Here is a comparison between Brazilian citizens and Romanians’ associative characteristics:
Brazilian Citizens Porto Allegre
Affiliation to a civic organization
38.4% (Setzler, 2000, quoted in Souza, 2000, p. 15)
0.5% (Sandu et al., 2006, p. 158)
Interested in political events
92.2% follow current events (Setzler (2000), quoted in Souza, 2000, p. 15)
20-25% show interest in political events (Sandu et al., 2006, p. 158)
Statement: “Civic associations or politicians defend people’s interests”
40% trust this is true (Setzler (2000), quoted in Souza, 2000, p. 15)
90% think that politicians follow own interests (Sandu et al., 2006, p. 146)
In 1989, 60% of population had a history in protest-based activism (Abers (1998) quoted in Souza, 2000, p.15).
87% of population did not participated ever in any protest activity, 11% participated only in legal protests (petitions or legal strikes) (Sandu et al., 2006, p. 162)
In my opinion, the discrepancies revealed by the above comparison are an indicator of the fact that the Brazilian participatory budgeting experience could not be applied successfully in Romania.
III.3. Differences between taxes allocation in CPBV and the earmarked taxes
The definition of pure earmarking considers that “all revenue from a particular tax is kept separate from general revenue, can only be used for a specific Government expenditure programme and fully funds that programme.
Another version of pure earmarking sets aside a fixed portion of a particular tax for specific expenditure programme and fully funds that programme. …
A softer version of earmarking involves that earmarked tax funding only a part of a specific expenditure programme, with t5he reminder funded from general revenue ” (Carling, 2007, p. 1).
CPBV differs from earmarked taxes:
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Pure Earmarked taxes
Soft earmarked taxes
What is the amount
Percentage of the tax owed by law
Supplementary taxes on tax on income
Supplementary taxes on tax on income
Who makes the decision on earmark destination
What is funded by earmarked tax
Public services/ ministries activities
Expenditure programmes chosen by Government
Expenditure programmes chosen by Government
What is the coverage of the budget created by earmarked tax
Partial, with reminder funded from general budget
Fully funded by earmarked tax
Funded partially from earmarked tax , partially from general budget
Who benefits of the results of taxes
Examples: Beneficiary pays- Australia tax wool (Carling, 2007, p. 8)
Consumers pay for benefits of producers – Australia tax on milk and sugar (Carling, 2007, p.8)
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Hard budget constraints, the revenues determine the expenditure programme
Earmarked tax is not a limit for the size of the programme, taxpayer knows nothing about the cost of programme
III.4. How does CPBV favour the earmarking of the allocations?
Carling (2007) lists some of the pure earmarking constraints: they impose rigidities on budgets, favour particular expenditures as earmarking provides monopoly access to certain revenues, and the Government has less discretion on reallocation the budgetary funds. The opponents of earmarking protest against relating the budget of a programme on the revenues collected through earmarking and not on benefits and costs of the programme.
The advocates of the earmarking concept believe the link between taxes and expenditures realised by earmarking enables the taxpayers to make better informed fiscal choices, contributing to democratic process of budgeting. Also, through earmarking the composition of Government expenditure will reflect taxpayer preferences.
I personally doubt this assumption as long as the taxes, even earmarked, “come from above”, the decision is not made by the taxpayer individually, but by their representatives, which are policy makers. The parliamentary representation of citizens is not giving the expected results. It was proved that in Romania the politicians use the public functions mainly for private interests. Individual citizens are not decisive in any way in the budgetary process. CPBV ensures that the necessary funds for public services are not hijacked through abusive political decisions.
In CPBV, by directing the taxes towards a certain use, we deal with an earmarking process. Some of the earmarking constraints become strengths of the new system: the imposed rigidities on budgets become a way of control and discipline for discretionary use of budget by governors; the fact that money is directed to certain public service domain is a method of assuring that the budget expenditure composition is related to population’s demands. In CPBV, one assumption is “what is not popular, is not necessary”, a not requested service (as perceived by citizens) is necessary, so the system is obliged to be restructured/ reduced/ given up to. This makes that the programmes under development in CPBV could be only the beneficial ones.
Earmarking is considered to increase the general Governmental spending. In CPBV is encouraged the adjustment of the spending, so that the services with no popular support do no longer exist, these are no longer supported by general funding, or a supported in a much smaller proportion. For supporting the non – popular in demand services, the Government must come with an explicit, transparent declaration, as in this case is impossible to affirm that a certain service is provided as citizen need it; the support is a publicly politically assumed decision, with consequences to be suffered accordingly.
In conclusion, CPBV is totally different of the Governmental imposed earmarked taxes. CPBV earmarks the allocations from tax on income for specific public services desired by citizens.
Generally the extra taxes imposed by Government are dispraised by public. Why do people hate taxes? Because they do not have any benefit whatsoever from their payments.
By CPBV the system of subsidies, tax exemptions and tax breaks is under scrutiny.
In practice CPBV could be expensive, could be complicated, but I believe is fair. CPBV results represent in the same time a funding process, and a diagnose tool. The data revealed by CPBV could explain the priorities segmented by geographical regions, age, educational status, and even by other demographical indices as nationality or marital status.
The results of CPBV are totally reliable because of the link that exists between taxes allocation and services received; people’s interests – for which they pay – are expressed by CPBV, and not only intentions or dreams, as usually it happens with any survey that asks them “what would you chose to”.
Difference between general taxes and CPBV taxes
Government controls budget allocations, could result in poor service
Citizens keep the service provider ministries under scrutiny by monitorizing the services received
Mixed perception at point of use of public services virtually free of charge:
Services free for certain services (education, public administration)
and services provided only after prove of tax paying: health services
Services accessed free on base of tax allocation contribution
To paraphrase a quite famous movie at its time, the CPBV is able to show (to the politicians that really want to see and understand) what citizens want.
IV.1. CPBV uses budget as a trigger of change
The CPBV Change Chain
The arrows should be read as “determine”
“A budget is not only a financial plan that sets forth cost and revenue goals for outcomes, within a business firm, but also a device for control, coordination, communication, performance evaluation and motivation” (Kenis, 1979, p. 707).
IV.2. The functions of the budget in CPBV
In CPBV the budget has three functions:
First function: budgets reflect the market dynamics of demand.
From citizen’s point of view, budget is “a resource allocation for selection among possible activities as well as for identifying activities that are worthwhile.” (Mikesell, 1978, p. 512)
Second function: budgets exert control on organizational, political and managerial structure of the world that budget lives in.
In 1953 Argyris saw budgets as basis for rewarding and penalizing workers in a company, and 54 years later nothing changed with this function of budgets.
Budgets can penalize and reward all the participants: the ordinary public servants, the top managers of public institutions, the politicians.
The third function: budget is a guardian on short term and on long-term for the quality of services.
Quality for services can be achieved through a two ways flow (between service provider and service user) of credible information. In Romanian public service information can easily be manipulated and distorted, becoming thus misleading and untrustworthy. In CPBV the information cannot be manipulated without a huge fraud or system error. Both the fraud and the error can be detected and those responsible uncovered.
IV.3. Budgets and motivation for performance
It is possible that a concern could arise related to employees’ motivation when they do not participate in budget decisions, as is the case in CPBV. The empirical studies of many authors, including Kenis (1979) proved that there is no relationship between participation in budgeting and employee’s performance. I can conclude that the performance of employees will not be worsened through CPBV process.
The budgets received through CPBV represent a feedback that cannot be neglected in any way, neither by top management, nor by operational functionaries. The contribution of feedback in motivation is essential: “if members of an organization do not know the results of their efforts, they have no basis for feelings of success or failure and no incentive for higher performance; furthermore they might become dissatisfied” (Kenis, 1979, p.709).
Maull et al. (2001) see the organizational culture as the primary condition for the successful implementation of quality management. Sureshchandar et al. (2002) consider that the commitment of top management is a prerequisite for effective and successful implementation of high-quality services.
“The time passes, the wage ambles, and we joyfully work”
Little interest for the job, little motivation, little results. 87% of the public servants appreciate that a bigger salary would stimulate their performance. The logic of CPBV is using the power of this motivational factor by creating a direct dependency between the performance of services provided and the budgetary level of the institution, level that determines the salaries. By CPBV is created a loop in which demands encourage, through budget, the incentive for better performance. Budgets will “raise goals of employees and motivation” (Argyris, 1953, p. 97), demonstrating their motivational role through rewarding and penalizing.
IV.4. How can CPBV influence the quality of public services?
The content of public services is related mainly to: health, education, transport, local Government and police.
The profitability of a service company is based on customer; customer’s satisfaction determines his loyalty, and loyalty of the customer translates into revenue growth, and finally, into profitability.
CPBV can be a tool for measuring the profitability of the public services, as it encourages public institutions to struggle for their customer loyalty.
I define the profitability of public services as being a result of both repeated budgetary contribution from citizen and customer satisfaction levels.
Public services become unprofitable when customers cease their contribution to the service and/or when the customer satisfaction surveys show a low level of satisfaction with the services received.
Building customer loyalty, the public institution establishes long-term relationship with citizens, securing future budgetary contributions.
CPBV becomes a huge database that can provide all the numeric information needed to understand the present situation and which could assist in designing new characteristics for improved services.
The total budget that a ministry will be able to collect from citizens will be the first signal that announces that something is changed with the service quality.
When the Ministries need more money for their activities, on top of budgets received through CPBV, they have to ask the Government for balance from central budget. They will have to present both the projects they have and the budgets received from citizens. The Government will allocate or not the requested balance from central budget only after understanding citizens’ choices. Government has on one side the report that the Ministry prepares itself, and the report resulted from citizens’ choices. The asymmetry of information that usually occurs at the interface between Government and ministries will be thus reduced. The Government will allocate the balance from central budget towards ministries with a complete knowledge of the citizens’ needs, and their evaluation of the services received; the allocative decision of the Government has two components: an informed overview of population needs and a political decision that reflects the vision of the Government regarding public interests.
Therefore I find that CPBV is a good tool of monitoring and control of public service institutions.
In order to improve the standards of certain public services – as basic health and basic education services -, on market could activate alternative private providers. These private providers, under a partnership with a Ministry, could offer standard services to those citizens that directed a part of their CPBV contribution towards the partner Ministry. At the end of budgetary year, if the percentage of basic services provided by private institution will be equal or greater than those offered by public institution, there will be raised a big question mark regarding the viability of public service institutions. These questions could be put and asked only after such a research, which is made possible by CPBV. In this way is promoted the real competition in public services.
V.1. Services cannot be improved without an active customer
In CPBV the concept of active customer is at the core of the process that is expected to generate better services. This concept is using: an Input-Process- Output framework, a user-based approach and the needs/wishes duality that makes the whole concept market oriented.
“Services are not things” Shostack (1987)
(quoted in Schneider and White (2004, p. 6)
The Public service delivery process can be described using an Input-Process-Output (IPO) model. In Fitzgerald et al.’s (1991) IPO model the quality of the services can be influenced and measured in all three stages by the customer.
According to Fitzgerald et al. (1991), in the Input stage, the active customer gets involved in determining the content of a service, and this action can contribute to improving the final quality. In the Process stage, the presence of active customer gives the provider the opportunity to correct any fault of the service, as a response to the feedback offered “live” by customer. In the third stage the actual results are measured, by analyzing the customers perception on the service received and by comparing own results with those realized by competitors.
In a strategy that has as purpose a control exercised by customer on the service’s quality, the IPO model is an adequate framework.
V.2. How can services be described?
General expectations that State has the duty to offer better public services for its citizens generated strategies used for improving the quality of public services, in terms of content, and delivery characteristics.
Schneider and White (2004) determine the characteristics of services: relative intangibility, relative inseparability, relative heterogeneity, characteristics that describe the special problems that the service quality defining poses.
Being relatively intangible, services have a tangible component (goods) and an intangible delivery experience. By relative inseparability the above authors understand that in the moment the services are produced, in the same moment customer consumes them. Customer perceives the quality of the service exactly in the same moment when quality is “produced” by the service provider. The relative heterogeneity of services is defined by Schneider and White (2004) through the fact that the human intervention in the process of delivery makes that there are no two totally identical services delivered. A human is flexible and is expected to deal with the particular needs and expectations of a customer, even if there are standard specifications regarding the content of service.
When defining the quality of services concept, Scheider and White (2004) use a user-based approach. According to this approach, “the quality of a service is determined by its user”. The authors believe that the user-based approach is the most adequate to service quality; both intangibility and heterogeneity of the services find a better evaluation in customers’ perceptions. There could be attempts to evaluate services only using a technical approach, which imply measuring “the number of deviations from standards or number of defects” (Schneider and White, 2004, p. 10). But the alone objective evaluation of service quality deprives the service provider of the necessary information regarding the match between the services offered and the customers’ needs and expectations. Only by using this information the service quality can be improved.
In CPBV the IPO model represent the framework that supports the customer’s quality control. The user-based approach promoted by Schneider and White (2004) represents for CPBV strategy a second layer, that takes into consideration the adaptability and flexibility that the services provided need to manifest in order to be of any benefit for customers.
The concept of service quality contains, according to Gronroos (1990), both the needs and the wishes of the customer. Needs determine what the customer want and wishes account for how they want the service provider to treat them. Customer is a “quality generating resource” (Gronroos, 1990, p.209) and this is the third dimension we attach in CPBV to the active customer concept. This concept presents the customer as a service beneficiary and as the co-generator of the service quality, in the same measure as the service provider. It cannot be imagined that the quality of the service is generated exclusively by the service provider. Quality of the service is a result of continuous interaction and communication between the service provider and customers.
V.3. Why public services need better quality?
Generally the efforts of reforming public services were made in the process/ output stages. The New Public Management is a reform concerned with Process stage, concentrating on how the services are delivered. The performance assessment strategies use the feedback in order to alter data to input stage for consequently better results.
The CPBV strategy is based on citizen-customer’s control exerted at Input level in order to determine the characteristics of a service, this control being aimed for better quality. I believe that this strategy can have positive results in Romania, especially because the efforts of improving services the process/output stages were not carried out yet.
The strategies of improving service quality as proposed by CPBV, address all the three stages of IPO model.
The most important goal of CPBV: to develop a service culture
An important goal of CPBV strategy is to create and develop a service culture.
Gronroos (1990, p. 211) believes that “managers and supervisors maintain the culture and if the firm wishes to be characterized by a service culture, they will have to keep up the spirit and support the norms and values of such a culture”. CPBV proposes a change of culture at top management level, followed by a flow of change up to the executive levels of the service organization. As generally the service organizations have a flat structure, the penetration of new culture does not need too much time to happen.
As it was affirmed previously, the quality of the services is a result of interaction between service provider and customers. That is why not only the public service providers need to amend their organizational culture. In the same time this change must happen with each individual citizen. Services improve only because the customers need so. Otherwise the services will not develop in any way. The result of a service culture is the interaction between the demanding customers and the responding service provider. Each of the two actors in a service culture needs to collaborate in order to attain personal goals. Each of them has one thing the other wants, and only by negotiations, communication, feedback and innovation this dialogue helps in exchanging the desired possessions: service providers have the services the customers need, the customers possess the money that service providers are after. If this reciprocal need of other’s possession does not manifest, there is no negotiation for content and quality, there is no bargain, and there is no fair exchange. If there is any asymmetry in this relation, the service degenerate: if the service provider is not flexible and customer oriented, the customer will not give up the money for an inappropriate, for him, service; in the same time, if there is no perspective of getting customer’s money (or getting this money much too easy, as is the case with the public services), the service provider is not stimulated to innovation for creating better services for that customer.
By proposing CPBV I pursue to reduce the asymmetry of power and interests that affect the public service delivery in Romania.
V.4. How does the CPBV realize the change process?
“Budgeting is a method for financial control which involves the planning and use of a budget” (Charpentier, 1998, p. 2).
What changes will take part: first of all CPBV will determine a shift in the way the citizen is perceived by the service providers. Through CPBV the citizen is no longer perceived only as an anonymous taxpayer; the providers of public services start to treat the citizen as a customer who pre-paid for services.
The public servants gain a new perception on citizen: that of citizen-customer. This new value attributed to citizen comes from the new role that CPBV invested the citizens with: the decision-maker role.
This decision-making role of a customer citizen is achieved when the income taxes are collected. It was demonstrated that the citizens have no control on how their money from taxes are used. CPBV proposes that the legal taxes on income that the citizen is obliged to pay to be addressed by citizen towards the services he is personally most interested into.
In CPBV strategy, by directing a share of his taxes towards certain public services, the citizen-customer realizes 4 important effects:
1. Anthony and Young (1994) show that budget has an essential function as a control instrument in public organizations. The main control is exercised at top managers’ level and top managers are exactly the people that can implement a service culture.
2. Charpentier (1998) shows that the budget participation empowers the budgetees, (those who participate in budget elaboration). If we consider that the budgetee in CPBV is the citizen, we find ourselves in front of a process of citizen empowering.
3. At the level of public institution, there will be incentives for transparency and accountability towards those who contribute in large amount to their budgets, and these are citizens. In the same time, the public service will be delivered from the political pressures
4. One last (but not least) effect that the CPBV strategy could have is the increase of service profitability, i.e. better performance.
Romania is not a welfare state. This is important to be kept in mind. The access to public services is generally granted as a result of a tax contribution. Except the compulsory public education, if there is no contribution, there is no right to access a service. The CPBV strategy does not contradict in any way the present situation of public services, which do not become unbalanced and restricted to certain users in any way. The Souza (2000) study observes that as income rises above the minimum wage, voters’ concerns shift to the provision of public goods and services. This result can have as consequence the idea that the quality of the services can be influenced only by those who pay, that have a certain level of income. Those who receive services through the social protection could not be concerned of their content and quality. The influence exerted by citizen in CPBV process could be the only one that could achieve the improvement of public services.
Let’s take as example the health services. In order to access the public health services, if there is no contribution through social assurances, the only alternative is to pay a fee.
Generally the citizens complain of the quality of these services and especially of the bribes that are considered as normal part that makes the process to have good results. The situation can be changed when the citizen engages in Budget Venues Participation.
VI.1. The benefits of applying CPBV for public services in Romania
Applying CPBV, is aimed to be achieved:
Better monitoring and control
Citizens become aware that they have the right to receive services of a certain quality. The percentage of the tax directed towards a Ministry/service would entitle him/her to at least two levels of service content: standard and advanced. This measure of structuring the public services on, at least, two levels of content is inspired by Nwanko and Richardson (1994), who observe that customers are not a “monolithic group”; therefore the public services should be designed to acknowledge their diversity (Nwanko and Richardson, 1994, p. 33). A post-service survey, compulsory in the first years for each service access, would provide the information regarding the customer satisfaction.
These initial data constitute the control level, against which the system of performance measurement will be designed.
There will be comments saying that CPBV will leave some of the present services with a low or no budget. Because the central Government has and other sources than taxes on income, it can be decided if it is adequate the use of alternative budgetary sources to support services that citizens do not need. In this way will be eliminated the institutions that now are perceived as having no other purpose than serving personal or group interests. In this situation no Government can hold forth that one service that does not have any budgetary contribution from citizens is really necessary. If so far in Romania many meaningless for citizen services and agencies were founded from the generous common bucket (and this is the consolidated budget), now, by CPBV, the real needs of the citizens are brought out. CPBV is providing undistorted information, fed through informational system into a national database. There will be generated demand reports that would configure the real need of population. Based on this demand there will be made allocations, there will be initiated changes in managerial systems and strategies. The public services will function on market principles, with the great advantage that will have against private service providers: their services will be paid in advance; they will not work on forecasts, but on real, palpable budgets.
No more opinions and presumptions are needed to gauge the needs for services of citizens. Everything is clear on the table.
Transparent decision process
At the end of the year, before citizens decide the distribution of their income tax share, the ministries must send activities reports that explain the past activity and especially the future plans, for which they could ask for citizens’ budgetary support.
In this situation citizen is able to make an informed decision regarding the distribution of his/her share, taking into consideration three factors: the level of past satisfaction on the service that was paid, the level of personal interest in future developments of a certain service and the ability of an institution to prove transparent and genuinely interested in satisfying the needs/wishes of the citizen customer.
Rusu/Gallup survey shows that 89% of citizen respondents prefer to plan their spending. This natural predilection towards planning of expenses supports the assumption that Romanian citizens will be willing to get involved in this process. The result of my personal research showed as well the respondents availability for getting involved into a process of participation similar to CPBV.
When 60% of the citizen respondents consider that “the poor are poor because the rich people and the powerful ones keep them in poverty” (Rusu/Gallup, 2004, p. 30), we can only understand how widespread the feeling of weakness and impotence is in Romanian society. By manifesting the decision-making right through CPBV, the citizens not only that they become aware of the fact that are entitled to demand accountability from public institutions, but actually they gain the power to do something and influence the institutions in their organizational behaviour towards them as service-users. I believe that this empowerment will give individual citizens the sense that they have the power to change something. An unexpected result, on long-term, could be an alteration of what is called “locus of control”. According to Lefcourt (1966), “locus of control” is of two types: internal and external. “Internal locus of control refers to the perception of positive and/or negative events they as being a consequence of their own actions and thereby under personal control; external control refers to the perception of positive and/or negative events as being unrelated to one’s own behaviours in certain situations, and therefore beyond personal control” (Lefcourt, quoted in Brownell, 1981, p. 846).
Generally the citizen empowerment movement is related to communities and voluntary associations. Romanian citizens are not, at least in this moment, as surveys show, great supporters of citizen associations. Sandu et al. (2006) reveal that 16% or Romanian urban population does participate in associations, with 1.1% involved in civil rights associations. A big gap proves to exist between the percentage of urban Romanians that would hypothetically sign a protest paper (and this percentage is 47%) and the percentage of those that have actually ever signed a protest paper, which is 11%. When 11% of Romanians that sign a paper is compared with 33%, the world average of people signing a protest paper, it can be understood that both the associative rights and the protest behaviour that the Romanians manifest give little hope for a solution for change. Romanians need to be offered a tool for change that takes into consideration that they prefer to solve alone any problem, without being obliged to be part of a group. I believe that CPBV is this kind of tool.
In the background chapter of this paper I showed the results of my personal survey, which proved that large majority of Romanian respondents, did not know what the level of their contribution to the central budget is, which institutions benefit of their money, and what kind of services they expect to be provided by public institutions. Through CPBV they find answers to all these questions.
VI.2. Effects of CPBV on top management
We need two conditions to explain the effects of CPBV on public institutions’ top managers. The first condition is to use the budget as a tool for change.
The second condition is that the change has to begin with the organizational culture.
Control of budgets, exerted by citizen-customer, combined with the improvement of the organizational culture might determine in Romanian public service the implementation of a service culture.
The budget level of an institution determines the amplitude of the activity, and even if that institution survives at all. The public institutions in Romania base their budgeting on the Medium-Term Framework; but many times these projects are bureaucratic, artificially constructed.
For public institutions, budgets are a matter of life and death. Generally, the public institutions in Romania depend on allocations from central budget and do not get involved in identifying alternative budgetary sources.
In CPBV the institution’s budget of the institution will be directly related to citizen-customer’s demands. Budget could be used as a factor that can push top managers to engage in a service culture.
Top managers have to make a decision: either to go on, by providing services adequate to citizen-customer’s demands; or to give up the job. Tertium non datur!
This market pressure could bring the expected performance, because if top managers decide to continue, they must encourage the reform.
I previously proved that the framework – the “hardware” – for efficient public services is in place in Romanian administration. What could not be found yet is the “software”, the right catalyst that is able to make the hardware work. I believe that CPBV is that type of software, capable to “boot” the system.
Hopefully CPBV will generate the movement towards the standards expressed by the Nolan Third Report of the Committee of Standards in Public Life (1997): “selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, leadership”.
CPBV will influence the top-management towards adopting and implementing the service culture. In this service quality oriented environment brought to life by top management, the service organization can perform. Douglas and Fredendall (2004) consider that a visionary leadership is essential in order to create the service organization.
Because CPBV relates the quality of services to the budget level of the institution, the participation of people in organization is encouraged. Top managers conceive strategies for service deliveries and communicate their vision to operational levels; executive staff produces the services, and through their interaction with citizen-customers receive the feedback, which communicated back to top management help to improve the strategy for obtaining services of improved quality.
VI.3. Effects of CPBV on ordinary public servants
When the visionary leadership is active in organizations, the enactment of people’s commitment of people is the next step. As we noted before, the biggest incentive for Romanian public servant is the salary. CPBV is exactly the tool that can address the motivation factor for public servants. By providing good services for their citizen-customers, the public servants contribute to their future better salaries. As the salary policy will be related to the performance they provide, this performance being judged not only by institutional measures, but especially by market of their customers, this is an incentive for every public servant to adhere to the service culture proposed by top management. I believe that, in time, the public servants will discover and other factors for job motivation. It will take time, but people will change. When they are aware that the citizen that faces them is the one that influences, through a decision, his/her future financial wellbeing, the public servant will feel compelled to perform as best as possible in order to “secure” the customer, and his/her contribution for future. In this climate will be possible the “soft” developments of “professional camaraderie, trust and interdependence among employees, which, according to Gupta et al. (2005) are the base of superior service delivery.
By involving actively in customer loyalization, the public servant projects for himself a better future.
The dimension of change at public servant level is very complex and challenging. Top managers need to develop skills that, maybe, have nothing to do with their professional expertise. Romanians are revealed by surveys as “change resistant”. Any new ideas or new job descriptions could initiate a conflict. The manager has to learn to accept the fact that people will resist to change, and must train for skills that allows him to help people to take the step for change. In Romanian society, as anywhere else, the failure is not well-received. Change implies a lot of risks – people could get worried for their jobs, or feel unable to acquire new skills; a greater percentage of errors will occur; there will be an increased demand for innovation and creativity. People step out of the silent zone of habits and step into the dynamic world of market-oriented businesses. A lot of effort is needed to achieve this transformation. But I believe the rewards offered through CPBV will measure the amplitude of the effort.
VI.4. Limits and challenges
There can be voices that claim that CPBV is not equitable towards those who paid in past for public services that they did not used, or did not need. I consider that this hypothesis is not valid, as long as citizens continue to pay for services, they only decide the allocation of the paid taxes. The 25.5% of the salary is mandatory to be paid, and the public services evolve continuously, in the same pace with human civilization’s development. In other words people always pay today for new services, which will be useful for our successors.
Some of the limits of the CPBV are listed below:
1. The informational infrastructure needed for CPBV is vast, with a national spread. All the institutions that provide services need to be able to access the MoF database, by being able to read the FCD;
2. The complexity of the data gathered could impede on budgetary process. But taking into account the benefits of the informational age, and the benefits brought by CPBV, I believe that the “costs” of this complexity gives enough incentives to overcome a possible “losing in the process”;
3. A Ministry has the freedom to redistribute the possible extra funds (after programmes expenses) towards salary increases and bonuses. There is the risk that the Ministry could focus its strategy exclusively to this purpose, to the detriment of development projects. Even if this risk is quite high, it is probably that Ministry NOT to receive money next budgetary year from the citizens unhappy with the received services. Another method of avoiding such a situation is that Government establishes a maximum salary and bonuses level (which would not impede the freedom of Ministry’s decision, but will keep under control the possible abusive exaggerations);
4. Some Ministries provide indirect public services (Defence Ministry for instance) to receive very low funds, which could not reflect the strategic need of the country. In this case it is possible to be required a redefinition of public services, into two categories: domestic and strategic public services. CPBV will direct the citizens allocations only towards the domestic services, the other would be sustained by central budget funds, with other venue sources;
5. Unethical fights could appear between institutions, in their desire for bigger percentages;
6. There could be misinformation and negative campaigns that aim influencing citizens through mass-media or even through employers (who have direct connection and power of influencing against the employees);
7. Could appear discriminations (consciously or unconsciously) for those who allocated small percentages than others for a certain public service.
I believe that citizens’ involvement in directing their taxes through CPBV process can be seen as the driving force towards a process that has as final result better quality of services. As a process that addresses the input of any activity: the budget, CPBV is enabling citizen control on expenditures right from the moment of constituting the venues. This is a bottom-up approach that is able to put pressure on top management in order to provide the public services, in the quantity and quality required by citizens, and not in the quantity and quality imagined and presumed by politicians and public servants. The result of the adaptation to citizens’ demand is the increase of services’ efficiency and performance, with long-term effect on work motivation and public service mentalities.
- Volume of sample: 190 with ages over 18
- Sampling Criteria: urban – Bucharest
- Survey on date: 12th of July 2007 – 22nd of July 2007
- Data collecting: in front of supermaket
The survey I prepared had following questions:
1. Do you know what percentage of your salary is collected to the central budget?
B. Yes, but not very clear
2. Do you know what public institutions are financed from central budget?
B. Yes, but not very clear
3. Do you know what services must provide for citizens the public institutions?
B. Yes, but not very clear
4. Are you satisfied with the quality of the public services you access?
A. Very satisfied
C. Could be better
D. Not satisfied
The number of respondents was: 182
Urban citizens: 174
Rural citizens: 8
Level of education:
- 10 compulsory grades: 11
- High school graduates: 127
- College graduates: 44
- 18 – 40: 104
- Over 40: 78
1. Do you know what percentage of your salary is collected to the central budget?
2. Do you know what public institutions are financed from central budget?
3. Do you know what services must provide for citizens the public institutions?
4. Are you satisfied with the quality of the public services you access?
1. Do you know what percentage of your salary is collected to the central budget?
2. Do you know what public institutions are financed from central budget?
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Citizens participation in the process of budgeting in Romania de Bogdan Craciun este licenţiat printr-o Licenţă Creative Commons Atribuire-Necomercial-Fără Opere Derivate 3.0 România.