Cooperation between scientists and public administration institutions is crucial for improving their functioning, says Filip Hrůza from the Institute of Public Administration. The Institute has been operating at the Faculty of Economics and Administration since 2003, and during its existence it has been able to advise public adminsitration officials, city councillors as well as ministries. Those interested in cooperation or expertise can reach out to the Institute.
What is the history of the Institute of Public Administration at the Faculty of Economics and Administration?
The Institute of Public Administration was established in 2003, so this year it will celebrate its 20th anniversary. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to be present when it was founded, but according to my knowledge, it was originally focused on accredited training of public officials in public administration. When I de facto relaunched the Institute around 2015, I tried to come up with a new vision and bring in practical experience.
How should such an institute ideally work?
First and foremost, a public administration institute should be a mutually vibrant and energising bridge between the university and the public sphere. I was particularly inspired by my internships and study stays at the Institute of Public Administration at the University of Delaware in the USA, where they have been working with the public sphere for fifty years. Their multidisciplinary, research-application and client-oriented approach was and still is a model for me.
What can academia offer to the public sphere?
Scientifically confirmed knowledge in various fiels as well as collaboration in terms of applied research and development. We provide tailored expertise and analytical or strategic documents that use data and expert methods to help our partners make informed decisions. We have also recently been collaborating on the development of lifelong learning courses for public administration staff. However, the potential and possibilities for cooperation with public administration institutions are much greater as experience and examples from abroad have shown. We need to invest further in this area.
Why do you think it is important to link universities and public institutions?
If public administration institutions are to be modern and effective, they must constantly evolve and respond to current issues. To do this, they need to have an adequate research and development capacity, which they can either build themselves or provide through collaboration with research and educational institutions. This can improve both the services provided to citizens and the internal functioning of these organisations.
What else can cooperation with academia bring to public administration?
The magic of a versatile and intensive cooperation between the university and public administration lies in the potential for a variety of effects that can gradually emerge. It does not have to be just a classic business service-pay relationship. Ideally, not only the required expertise, for example, but also new research, experimentation and development of new possibilities, long-term training of employees, internship opportunities for students and so on can arise. No other partnership will allow you such potential.
With which entities does the Institute of Public Administration collaborate or has collaborated in the past?
Over the course of the Institute’s existence, we have had the privilege of working with a number of public and private sector entities. These include the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Reginal Development, the Union of Towns and Municipalities, the Local Government Association and the National Healthy Cities Network. We also cooperate with associations from municipalities and towns such as Brno, Chotěboř, Slavičín, Němčice nad Hanou and others. When providing services and expertise in the field of public administration, we also cooperate with partners from the private sector such as Dynatech, Rentel, Lesensky.cz or, more recently, Renards.
Could you give an example of a successful cooperation with a municipality?
We prepared a tailor-made analysis for Chotěboř, for example, where the city administration needed to make an informed decision regarding the construction of a swimming pool. Not only can public investments of this type run into hundreds of millions of crowns, but the subsequent operation of these facilities can be a considerable risk for public budgets. Chotěboř received several proposals, and we helped them answer three basic questions: how much it would cost to build each option, how much would it cost to operate the facility and what could be the demand for the service, from which we were able to derive potential revenues.
You have recently cooperated with the Ministry of Finance. What specifically have you been working on?
We prepared expert outputs for the Ministry of Finance in connection with the amendment of the Financial Control Act. This affects the functioning of all public administration bodies from kindergartens to funds and universities to ministries. We have prepared two extensive analyses that will serve as a basis for the legislative amendments in question. The first one was aimed at evaluating the functioning of internal control systems of public administration bodies in the Czech Republic, the second one provided an international comparison of these systems in selected countries.
What does the cooperation between the Institute of Public Administration and private companies look like?
We are currently cooperating, for example, with the company Dynatech. We are involved in applied research aimed at improving their software tool that facilitates effective financial management and control for public administration entities.
How can public authorities and private companies establish cooperation with the Institute?
They can simply contact us, and we will then try to identify their specific needs. The solution to the problem will be sought by a specific expert or team of experts. Because public institutions may have diverse needs across different areas, we are not limited by the potential of our faculty alone but seek to connect with experts across the university and beyond.
If we want to collaborate effectively with public administration and develop this collaboration further, we need to be able to identify and monitor their needs over time and adapt our offerings accordingly. As an institute, we therefore strive to create the right environment and conditions through the development of communication channels, active marketing, and communication to target groups. In addition, we also organise professional workshops and conferences where public administration staff can meet our experts and where we also get to learn more about their problems and needs.
Can other researchers from the Faculty of Economics and Administration be involved in the activities of the Institute of Public Administration?
Absolutely. We are expanding our network of experts not only across the faculty but also across the university. Outside of Masaryk University, for example, we cooperate with an expert from the BUT. Public administration is thematically very diverse, so we offer cooperation in a wide variety of areas. If you are interested, we are open to suggestions and ideas for such cooperation, just email me or call.