Evaluation of the Results and Recommendations

As the dynamics of globalization gained momentum starting from early 1980s, some of the global trends and concepts were on the rise, while some current ones underwent changes in content, or replaced with new ones. To give an example, those were the times when growth-oriented development left its place to approaches underlining environmental awareness, humanitarian development, and quality of life.

Another change that emerged simultaneously with globalization was observed in planning practices. Compulsory central planning was replaced by local and regional planning prepared and implemented with a participatory approach. In Türkiye, apart from the 5-year development plans, which are compulsory for the public sector, strategic plans were introduced in this period at corporate, regional and urban spheres.

Among various global issues, environment gained importance which gave birth to concepts such as “sustainability”, “one world”, and “liveable cities”. In this period, urban population outgrew rural population for the first time, and cities became a center of attention due to both demographic factors and the transformative dynamics they harbour, which in turn nurtured new government approaches in relation to “urban areas”.

While all these changes were taking place, the sluggishness and lack of supervision in the traditional governing systems, as well as inadequacies in service-focused operations, created serious bottlenecks. This was the point where the concept of governance attracted attention and gained more importance. Although at first it was mostly upheld by the corporations in order to increase trust for their financing needs, following the release of the White Paper in 2001 the European Union started to take it as basis in all of its governing processes and policies, and the word governance started to be used more often. The popularity of good governance rose because it aimed at mobilizing all sections of the society in a spirit of partnership for the solution of local, national and global challenges; and advocated a transparent, accountable, participatory, equitable and consistent model of governing. The rising awareness of the need to deal with the problems not only at global or even national, but also on local level increased the significance of local governments and expanded the scope of their responsibilities.

Reasons for Evaluation

Expectations of citizens, NGO’s, corporations, and all kinds of organizations and institutions from municipalities are growing every day. However, expectations vary on local level due to different socio-economic development levels. Under the conditions of extensive changes, municipalities’ performance in meeting the citizens’ needs and expectations in the most effective and democratic manner depends on the commitment to a participatory and data-based manner of governing. Objectives such as inclusive democracy, sustainable development, and increased quality of life can only be attained if good governance culture and an environment of trust are developed at the local level. A society where people trust their institutions is the place where the grounds for improving the quality of life and a sustainable development are effectively laid down.

The legal and democratic actors responsible for the governance of municipalities are the city council, the mayor, municipal board members, departments’ supervisors, and other staff members. The quality of decision making depends on these actors’ ownership of good governance principles and their success in strengthening the institutional framework. Local good governance is measured on the basis of a transparent, accountable and consistent climate that enables trustworthy, inclusive, equitable, effective and efficient processes. At the heart of this climate is the construction of a structure conducive of good governance, translation of this structure into actions through effective implementation, and continuous improvement.

The learning cycle is brought to completion by means of continuous improvement of the structure by learning from the measurement of results and allocating resources for development. To put it into a nutshell, it is the activation of the learning cycle which enables continuous improvement.

Municipality Governance Scorecard Project was carried out with the purpose of analysing and evaluating, from a citizen’s perspective, the processes that take place in district municipalities of İstanbul, in terms of good governance climate and the learning cycle. This Model, which is in compliance with international governance principles and norms, which has taken on the basis of the current Turkish legislation, and which promotes continuous improvement by means of measurements; attempts to offer a guideline and a tool for citizens and institutions for implementation of good governance. The assessment criteria we put forth constitute an example as to how good governance may be used in various areas and processes. Our project, which puts in its center the municipalities’ assessment and evaluation by the citizens, i.e. the true origin of sovereignty, supports active citizenship. It shares the processes of participation in the administrative affairs of other stakeholders such as NGOs and headmen; and the methods and ways through which democratic civil supervision can be practiced.

We analysed 37 district municipalities of İstanbul in the light of the above-mentioned methods and indicators on the basis of data open to the public on the municipalities’ websites. Adalar (Prince Islands) and Şile Municipalities, which are legally exempt from strategic planning, were excluded from our study. The results of the surveys carried out with the headmen through questionnaires where the headmen assessed the operation of their municipalities were separately analysed. In addition to the publicly available data accessible through the Internet, we made use of the information obtained in cooperation with the Sabancı University under the “right to information” legislation. All these data and their analysis enabled us to measure and assess the degree of good governance practiced in municipalities. We hope that our study will offer an opportunity to all municipalities in Türkiye, first and foremost those in İstanbul, to improve their operations.

Results and Recommendations

Article 41 of the Law No. 5393 on Municipalities requires municipalities to deliver services in accordance with the local conditions and to meet the needs of all social groups. The services should observe human rights, should be delivered in an impartial manner, and in compliance with the policies and plans of the central administration.

Taking the above in consideration, we studied the good governance climate in municipalities on the basis of a wide variety of processes and also the learning environment. We looked through each good governance principle within the context of institutional structure comprising the processes of decision making, resource utilization, and delivery of services, as well as the consultation and supervision processes. The first process we delved into was that of decision making as the key to municipalities’ realization of their mission and objectives in conformity with good governance principles. The second process, which we assessed from the viewpoint of conformance to good governance principles, was the allocation and utilization of resources for the implementation of the decisions taken and realisation of their objectives. Thirdly we analysed the good governance practices in processes through which the resources were utilised and the objectives were met.

As effective and efficient operation of all these processes depends on the presence of an institutional framework which is open to improvements, we also analysed the supervision and consultation processes on the basis of the good governance principles.

As a result of our analyses and evaluations within the framework of the Model we developed, it is concluded that in order to reinforce the good governance culture, municipalities should carry out their responsibilities in a data-based manner, adopt a participatory, and integrated approach, and commit themselves to continuous learning. We also found areas that needed improvement in transparent sharing of information and compliance with the principle of accountability.

Prof. Emeritus  Korel Göymen, Prof. Dr. Ersin Kalaycıoğlu, Doç. Dr. Erbay Arıkboğa, Enver Salihoğlu

Research Results with Prof. Emeritus Korel Göymen

“We divided the parameters in 14 segments and we utilized more than 200 criteria to evaluate performance of 37 district municipalities of İstanbul with emphasis on concept of governance.”

Evaluation Methods with Prof. Ersin Kalaycıoğlu

“Our Research is not only confine to Türkiye; since we use guidelines like UN’s own Governance Report of 2012 and the Good Governance measures of European Council.”

To read more about Evaluation of the Results and Recommendations, please check the From a Citizen’s Perspective: Governance Scorecard of Municipalities for İstanbul Districts publication.