- June 18, 2015
Researches show that the cooperation between the governmental and NGO sectors is considered important by both sides, however, the current cooperation condition is not satisfying for either of them. Ways to improve the situation were discussed by public sector representatives and leaders of national and regional NGO’s in a conference held in Vilnius on the 17th of June.
Research carried out by the Civil Society Institute on cooperation between the governmental and non-governmental sectors show that both public sector employees and the general public consider this cooperation important. There are a lot of means of involvement in the public decision-making that are ensured by law (petitions, citizens’ legislation initiative, consultations, polls etc.), however, as it was pointed out in the conference, these tools are not being used very effectively and the quality of the cooperation between the two sectors does not meet the expectations.
The main obstacles to an efficient cooperation are thought to be the lack of understanding about each other and the lack of competences in both sectors. The conference participants agreed that the main challenge is for both sectors to look at each other as equal partners. Therefore the government institutions were being encouraged to invest in NGOs so that they would be enabled to give professional proposals and constructive criticism. Whereas NGOs should try to make their activities more efficient and avoid representing only small interest groups.
Other obstacles to effective cooperation, mentioned in the conference, were:
- Lack of understanding about each other’s work and following stereotypes;
- Inability to agree on common goals and decisions;
- Successful cooperation is very dependent on certain people who work in public institutions or NGOs. When these people leave and new people come, often the cooperation has to be created from scratch;
- NGOs rarely want to join coalitions and often represent only a small group’s interests. This leads to distrust and doubting of NGOs’ competences by the public sector.
NGOs’ representatives pointed out the factors that result in a successful cooperation:
- A competent team of workers and volunteers in a NGO and consistent activities;
- A certain issue that the a NGO deals with is relevant to the society and receives public attention;
- Mutual trust (both from the governmental and non-governmental sectors).
Other proposals how cooperation could be improved:
- Improving communication between the public institutions and citizens. Efficient spread of information could be the first step to further participation in the decision-making process. NGOs’ work and results have to be visible to the public as well;
- Various public institutions differ in their views on NGOs, therefore, if cooperation is not successful with a certain institution, NGOs could look for other channels to influence decision making: trying to contact other institutions working in the same field, or higher/international institutions;
- Strengthening competences in both sectors: investing in NGOs and paying attention to public servants’ qualifications.
*** The conference was organized by the Civil Society Institute as a part of the project “Enhancement of cooperation between the public and non-governmental sectors in public policy decision-making” financed by the European Union’s Social Fund and Lithuanian Republic budget.