This review focuses on support mechanisms for local authorities (LAs) to improve the provision of social services as regards both quality and efficient delivery. The review covered selected OECD countries with LAs at various levels of autonomy. It was conducted in 2020 at the request of the Budget Department of the Ministry of Finance.
To identify optimal models, from around the world, of support mechanisms for LAs to improve the provision of education and welfare services, and explore if they are applicable to Israel.
An international review was conducted of scholarly literature, official documents, and additional internet sources on the topic of LAs.
Few programs around the world rely on accompanying support as the main path to improving the provision of social services. The most common supportive tool in these programs is tailored organizational consultation or research. Nonetheless, there are methodical models of LA support. These programs largely pertain to support-management bodies serving a large number of LAs. Program implementation allows for variation between regions and LAs – amid retention of a common framework for all participant LAs. This document reviews two programs of organizational consultation and research (in Denmark and the EU), and two programs with methodical models for LA support (in Germany and England).
Optimal support processes were found to include steps to develop sustainable competence in the given LAs. To this end, considerable thought is devoted to the “day after” or phaseout stage of the program and funding. For instance, the German Lernen vor Ort – LvO Program (Learning Locally) defined the entire program up front as temporary and therefore created mechanisms to ensure long-term structural changes in the supported LAs, and the sharing of knowledge accumulated by NGOs and LAs throughout Germany.
In addition, an LA’s evaluation and measurement capacity was found to be an important component of the development of managerial and administrative competence. Moreover, it emerged that LA managerial freedom and authority are necessary to the development of autonomous management skills – the LA should both be and feel like a partner to the decision-making in the supportive program in order that it, itself, develop these skills.
Finally, regional organizations, which are the basis of LA support in England, differ from but parallel Israel’s regional clusters. Relatively few adjustments are thus needed to transpose the English model of LA support to Israel.