In the ongoing process of building a stable, more efficient and more citizen-oriented public administration, countries in Central and Eastern Europe have, over the past few years, become increasingly interested in promoting and introducing instruments of quality management in the public sector.
This study is a first attempt to analyse this process of promoting quality and the use of quality management tools in the public administrations of CEE countries, focusing on those countries that will join the EU in 2004. It addresses both the strategic approach and the objectives underlying the promotion of quality management tools in CEE candidate countries. It moreover considers the extent to which typical and well-established tools of quality management (ISO 9000 quality systems; EFQM Excellence Model; Common Assessment Framework) have actually been used by public administrations to date, and summarises experiences in this field. The study further explores the impact of the EU accession process on the promotion of quality management in CEE countries.
The main conclusion of the study is that the introduction of quality management in the public administrations of CEE countries is mainly driven by internal factors and is generally closely linked to general administrative reform initiatives and trends. In this regard, EU accession serves as a background and as a reference framework but in practice hardly plays a role in promoting the use of quality management tools. Quality management has been most beneficial where it has provided clear instructions for reform and has served the purpose of designing and managing organisational processes in a more efficient and transparent way; hence the priority given so far to the implementation of ISO 9000 quality systems. By contrast, both the administrative culture and managerial capacity in CEE countries still place hurdles on working with the methodology of organisational self-assessment and improvement.