The aim of the study was to give an overview of the cooperation between local governments and NGOs (non-governmental organisations) in providing public services. Praxis has analysed the same subject before in the year 2009, therefore has this year’s report focused on the changes that have happened in the last five years. The conclusions of the study are based on the results of the survey made in late spring in 2014. The report describes cooperation trends between NGOs and local governments, new forms of cooperation and makes proposals for developing joint activities during service provision.

The comparison revealed that financing NGOs is the main form of cooperation – 28% of NGOs estimated that financing was the main form of cooperation in 2009 and 63% of them thought the same way in 2014. At the same time, the engagement of NGOs by local governments has diminished which indicates the decrease of substantive and strategic partnerships.

The survey showed that the public service delegation to NGOs has remained almost unchanged. 60% of local governments delegated their assignments in 2009 and 63% in 2014. Delegation degree has increased the most in medium-sized municipalities – it was 67% on 2009 and already 88% in 2014. Delegation degree has also rose in large municipalities but stayed at the same, the lowest level in small municipalities.

According to the results, the most delegated public services are in the areas of culture and leisure (69%), sports (68%) and promoting regional life (55%).  Delegation is less common in the areas of education (27%), environmental protection (15%) and crime prevention (14%).

The spread of delegation is prevented by the lack of opportunities and the limited impact of individual support measures. On the other hand, not every local government sees the need for delegation. The study revealed that essential public services are provided mainly by local governments themselves (municipalities or businesses that are under their control). Smaller municipalities do not have many NGOs with sufficient capabilities or human and finance resources.

Other aspects that have changed are the purpose of delegating services and expected benefits. Local governments increasingly prioritise active communities and the availability of public services. Saving has not been the main result of cooperation.

“The study showed that the skills and knowledge of local governments, NGOs and consumers have to be continually improved.”

Developing the favourable operating environment is also important. The most essential developing directions are:

  • Unification of practices. The awareness about the benefits and possibilities of cooperation between various sectors should be increased. In addition, other ways of service provision should be introduced so that funding objectives and cooperation forms would be in line with each other. Feedback from service users should be gathered more systematically.
  • Promoting partnerships. The NGOs’ organisational abilities should be developed by focusing on innovative thinking and ways of cooperation. The focus should be on supporting the activities of networks, developing long-term relations and raising awareness of the management among local governments.
  • Promoting modern forms of cooperation. There are many ways to achieve the availability, quality and efficiency of public services. For example, the pilot projects of service co-creation should be supported. The contents, pros and cons of various cooperation forms should be introduced to local governments and NGOs, so that the best solution for service provision would be found.