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With the support of: IIAS International Institute of Administrative Sciences


Theme III

Call for Applications is closed!

THEME 3 "New Forms of Partnership Working"


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.

These global challenges affect public administrations in the way that they deliver public services or perform public functions. Partnership working is one way of delivering differently; public servants therefore need to understand when different partnership models work and how to make them work effectively. The purpose of this topic is to demonstrate the variety of solutions that are being found in order to meet these challenges.


Partnership is a means to an end and can be established for several possible purposes. These can include, but are not restricted to:

  • Improving service delivery (innovation in methods, reduced cost, new/increased revenues, improved outcomes/preventing service failure etc);
  • Attracting new investment;
  • Protecting employment;
  • Accessing new skills;
  • Changing service culture;
  • Tackling social exclusion;
  • Improving democratic legitimacy;
  • Accessing EU funds;
  • Accessing partner networks;
  • More effective influencing of decision makers, especially at EU level.

Nevertheless, whatever the objectives of entering into the partnership, a decision to do so calls for a disciplined approach to decision making and implementation by public administrations.

However in some cases, partnership models have been used when they are not appropriate and implementation has not always been planned or managed effectively. Some public authorities (sometimes sub-national authorities under pressure from national government) have also entered into too many partnerships and have showed signs of suffering from "partnership fatigue" in their inability to realise the benefits of partnerships.

Specifically, it is widely accepted that:

  • A public body cannot decide what it wants from its partnerships unless it is clear about its own corporate/service delivery objectives and how the partnership can contribute to them;
  • Partnerships must contribute tangibly to the corporate/service delivery objectives in order to justify the financial and human resources devoted to them;
  • Partnerships must:
    - be better than the alternative means of realising those objectives e.g. in dealing better with complex issues;
    - justify the opportunity cost of the resources devoted to the partnership;
    - have suitable governance arrangements to deliver planned results;
    - measure the actual delivery of planned results.

This topic is looking for showcase projects based on how public administrations are meeting this new role in society by displaying new forms of partnership working.


Projects under THEME 3 should demonstrate and contain elements of proven evidence on one of the following subtopics:
- Public-public partnerships, public-private partnerships and public-third sector relationships;
- Collaboration between administrations (including inter- or cross-administrative), shared and collaborative responsibility;
- Cross-territorial collaboration (including interregional, cross-border and/or trans-national cooperation);
- Innovative cooperation or cluster-related processes.


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 3 will furthermore be judged against following specific criteria under this topic:

  • Demonstrated benefits of the partnership when compared to the alternatives;
  • Appropriateness of partner selection process;
  • Effective governance arrangements, including for management of risks.


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