European Public Sector Award
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With the support of: IIAS International Institute of Administrative Sciences


Theme I

Call for Applications is closed!

THEME 1 "Performance Improvement in Public Service Delivery"


The European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA) - mandated by its Board of Governors' decision of 1 July 2008, and with the institutional and financial support of 15 European countries and the European Commission - invites applications to the second European Public Sector Award - EPSA 2009. The EPSA 2009 will be awarded on the occasion of a high-level symposium on leading-edge public administration solutions, which will be held on 5 and 6 November 2009 in Maastricht (NL), under the auspices of the Swedish Presidency. The conference thus presents a unique opportunity for European administrations with innovative performances and achievements to reach an extensive audience and to be recognised as a leading practice at the European level.


During the last 15-20 years, the public sector has been facing a number of global challenges that are strong drivers in changing the way European public administrations function in the 21st Century:

  • Demographic changes, such as an aging population, diminishing working population and increased immigration;
  • Environmental changes, such as climate change and shortage of space;
  • Urbanisation, including pressure on metropolitan areas, commuting and citizens' demand for housing;
  • Globalisation, internationalisation and Europeanisation, such as fewer borders, economic integration, higher competition, fast-changing markets and fast innovation, more international/European orientation in work;
  • Labour market, such as diversity of labour force and shortages in the labour market, flexicurity and inclusion policies;
  • Diminishing "social capital", including participation in elections and mistrust towards public administration and public services, more uncertainty, and;
  • Less willingness to increase resources for the public sector, despite higher demands and expectations of citizens for better services, focus on efficiency and effectiveness.

This has lead to a number of reforms at all levels of public administration: state, regional and local level. It has also lead to the rethinking of distribution of tasks in different sectors of public administration and, thus, the use of agencies, collective bodies, new types of service providers etc. (outcome - focus).

European countries are meeting these challenges in different ways and the purpose of this topic is to demonstrate the variety of solutions that are being found to meet these challenges.


The question of Why Public Administrations Reform? can generally be answered in three ways.

Firstly, governments need to keep up with society. The purpose of reform in this respect is to make governments more responsive to society's needs and demands. This comes as a result of growing and changing demands (e.g. efficiency/effectiveness) from citizens/customers towards public administration and public service deliveries. Public administration is being reformed in order to provide better, faster and sometimes more services. However, quality, quantity and speed are not the only new competences that society asks of its government. Since the pace of societal change is accelerating, governments should likewise be able to respond to changing demands with new solutions.

Secondly, governments reform with the purpose of (re-)establishing trust. Governments need to provide more choice, democracy and transparency. Therefore, the public service needs to work together with the political sphere. Equally important is a strengthened communication and connection with the citizen.

Finally, governments reform due to new pressures. Outside forces place competitive pressure on governments to serve the public. In addition, greater economic interdependence, the opening up of societies, and the growing importance of international structures and agreements make outside pressures more complex and multi-dimensional. Hence, the environment in which and for which the government operates, is fostering new demands. Reform is thus the process of preparing or adapting government to its new role in a changing society.

This topic is looking for showcase projects based on how public administrations are meeting this new role in society by displaying performance improvement in service delivery.


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

  • Increased efficiency and effectiveness of public service provision;
  • Increased productivity by adapting processes of service production and delivery of shared service centres;
  • Reducing bureaucracy and cutting red tape for the benefits of their clients, citizens and businesses;
  • High quality control of public service delivery (related to outcome);
  • Customer satisfaction measurement and management;
  • Impact assessment of service delivery.


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 2009 competition;
  • The working language of the EPSA 2009 is English, thus it is strongly recommended to submit projects in English;
  • The lead applicant must be a public sector institution or authorities (other applicants 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/result;
  • Completed application form;
  • Confirmation that the application has been submitted (i.e. notification mail and registration number) before deadline (hrs).


It is encouraged to submit projects showing consideration of gender mainstreaming, technology (ICT-enabled solutions) and environmental sustainability aspects.


The submitted applications will first be checked for eligibility. If the criteria set above have been met, a registration number will be allocated. The project will then be reviewed and assessed by an internationally acknowledged, independent and impartial pool of experts. The evaluation process also includes on-site visits to a small number of short-listed projects per theme.

When submitting their projects, applicants should pay particular attention to the following general criteria used for the selection of the best projects:

  • Innovation: novelty of the solution; degree to which the case shows a leap of creativity in public administration progress; something different that goes beyond what currently exists;
  • Public concern: degree of addressing a pressing need or important problem of public concern; the project topic is high on the agenda in European public organisations;
  • Significance/Relevance: the project deals with a sufficient number of public sector bodies; a critical mass of actors is tackling the issue;
  • Impact: the realisation of planned objectives and activities; the provision and illustration of proven evidence and benefits; results demonstration;
  • Learning capacity and transferability: with lessons of 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:

  • Involvement of citizens in the processes;
  • Outcome orientation (real influence on society);
  • Balance between economy and quality.


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