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Polish project to improve governance monitored

The Financial Mechanism Office (FMO) carried out a monitoring visit to Poland from 21 to 25 June, as part of its work to ensure that projects supported by the EEA and Norway Grants achieve what they set out to do.

The FMO`s monitoring spotlight is put on grants larger than €2.5 million, projects which are considered to be at risk, and an up to 5% percent random selection of all supported projects each year. The €3.3 million project "Building institutional capacity of local government units for better delivery of public services" by the Association of Polish Cities was therefore automatically subject to monitoring by the FMO.

Best practice

"The project stands out as a best practice example under the grants schemes", Andreas Aabel, the responsible task manager at the FMO said, at the end of the visit. According to Aabel, the smooth running of the countrywide project is due to its effective and dedicated project management and the thriving cooperation with the Norwegian partner.

The project aims to strengthen the institutional capacity of local government in Poland by bringing representatives of local and regional authorities together, allowing them to share best practices and learn from each other. Several hundred Polish local and regional authorities are involved, as well as Norwegian counterparts who participate in the project under the umbrella of the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS).

"In addition to the high quality project management and the good methodology, what impressed us the most about this project was that all the interviewed participants said that they had implemented or decided to implement new and/or improved services based on their participation in the project,` Sølve Fauskevåg of the FMO said. "This is a strong indication that the project actually works as planned and contributes to innovation in Polish local governments."

Read also: Awards for improved public services in Poland

Firsthand experience

During the four-day visit, the FMO monitoring team experienced a wide range of the project`s activities firsthand. Among these were a meeting in Poznan of middle-management representatives of several Polish cities and a roundtrip to several municipalities surrounding Warsaw to speak with mayors, deputies and other officials involved in the project. Fauskevåg of the FMO emphasised the importance of these meetings: "Meeting the people involved on their own terms, listening to their stories and experiences and seeing how the stakeholders collaborate gives a richer perspective on the project than only working with e-mail and phone. A picture can say more than a thousand words, but being there when the picture is taken says even more," Fauskevåg said.

Read also: Sharp increase in monitoring