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The International Journal
of Not-for-Profit Law

Volume 8, Issue 1, November 2005

A publication of the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law

Table of Contents

Letter from the Editor

Helping Civil Society Flourish

Toward an Enabling Legal Environment for Civil Society
Statement of the Sixteenth Annual Johns Hopkins International Fellows in Philanthropy Conference, Nairobi, East Africa

Implementation of NGO-Government Cooperation Policy Documents: Lessons Learned
Radost Toftisova

Strengthening Civil Society in the South: Challenges and Constraints - A Case Study of Tanzania
Jared Duhu
Emeka Iheme


Civil Society Law Reform in Afghanistan
David Moore

Rational Exuberance: An Exploration of the Adaptation by California's Charitable Sector to Changing Governance Standards - Notes from the Field
Thomas Silk

A Common, Global Framework of Nonprofits as Players in Civil Society
Herrington J. Bryce

Forum - Looking Ahead: What is the Future for the Nonprofit World?
Pablo Eisenberg
Diana Aviv
H. Peter Karoff
Arthur Drache
Susan Raymond
Bill Landsberg

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Implementation of NGO-Government Cooperation Policy Documents: Lessons Learned

By Radost Toftisova 1

I. Introduction
What is a “compact?”

A decade ago, the term “compact” would have raised very few if any associations in the world of non-profit, non-governmental organizations (“NGOs”), their role in public life, and their cooperation with government. The first compacts appeared in 1998 in the United Kingdom and were defined as agreements “between government and the voluntary and community sector in England to improve their relationship for mutual advantage.”2 In the years since, governments have been persuaded or even impelled to initiate negotiations with NGOs on cooperation documents because of NGOs' expanding and more constructive role in developing good political processes, delivering high-quality public services, and otherwise contributing to the public’s well-being.

These documents may be known by different names:

For ease of reference, we will call all such documents compacts.

The public party to the document can be represented by the government ( England) or Parliament ( Estonia). The documents can be comparatively short ( UK) or detailed ( Estonia). They can be followed by Codes of Good Practice and local compacts ( UK) or remain predominantly a national process ( Croatia). As explained more fully below, not all compacts are “agreements” between the state and the sector; in some cases, compacts come about as a result of unilateral action by one party, usually the government ( Hungary).

What all such documents share are an expression of mutually recognized principles and values of cooperation between the public and the non-profit sector and an outline of the structure of their future work together. The documents represent an effort to institutionalize the two sectors’ relationship in order to improve public participation in political decision-making and to raise the quality of public services by improving NGOs’ opportunities to participate in service delivery.3 The state’s recognition, either implicit or explicit in the document, of civil society and its place in public life is certainly important. But the real value of cooperation documents lies in their practical impact and their ability to bring the public and non-profit sectors together for the benefit of society.

Seven years after the first compacts, the focus has changed. It is no longer on compact initiatives themselves, although several countries are starting negotiations or preparing draft documents. Rather, what deserves particular attention today is the effect of compacts. Did they achieve the intended outcomes, and, if so, how? What facilitated that process? What hampered or obstructed it, and how can these challenges be overcome?

This article will address the lessons learned from the implementation of compacts in a number of countries, predominantly in Western and Eastern Europe. It will examine the factors that contributed to successful implementations as well as those that led to failures. The objective is to provide information that may aid governments and NGO sectors that are considering compacts or re-evaluating existing ones. We hope that the findings and examples presented here will help governments and NGOs develop effective documents beneficial to society.

2. What is “implementation?”

What is meant by “implementation” of a compact? The history of compacts is too brief to provide a complete picture of a good, effectively implemented compact. All of the compacts adopted to date are still being implemented. Even so, this process has yielded clear-cut results, both positive and negative, all with potential as sources of learning.

To put the concept of implementation in concrete terms, consider these examples of how NGOs and governments have partnered in developing activities to put their commitments into effect. All of these activities have been undertaken to fulfill the parties’ commitments in their compacts – to increase the NGO sector’s financial sustainability, develop new enabling legislation supporting NGO activities, facilitate grant-making and application procedures, provide tax benefits to NGOs, etc.

Nonetheless, a balanced account of the record of compact implementation to date would have to acknowledge setbacks in fulfilling commitments made in various documents:

a. Definition

Implementation with no compact?
In Hungary, the Strategy is often referred to and its socio-political importance is undoubted, despite the fact that it was not adopted and therefore cannot be “implemented” as we ordinarily understand the term. This demonstrates the opportunities for legal and other reforms through the goodwill that compact negotiations can foster. The Strategy, of course, has the potential for even greater impact should it be formally adopted – implementation of an actual compact could lead to more specific and comprehensive measures to improve NGO-government cooperation.

The implementation process fulfills the commitments made in the compact by the public sector, either alone or together with the voluntary sector, in order to improve the relationship and foster cooperation between the two sectors. Implementation involves a series of specific actions designed to achieve the main objectives of the compact. These actions are usually designed to produce particular outcomes, which may include the following:

Ultimately, the public benefits from higher-quality services, a more democratic system allowing for greater participation in political decision-making, and greater opportunity to enjoy the fruits of citizenship and the basic freedoms it implies. A report by the Scottish Compact review group underlines that the ultimate goal of implementation is to improve public well-being: “the Scottish Executive and the voluntary sector work in partnership to build a better Scotland.”12

Effective compact implementation, therefore, requires the relationship between the two sectors to reach a higher level. But how does one assess effectiveness? Plainly, there is a need to consider measures. As discussed below, establishing indicators to gauge the success of implementation in practical terms has presented challenges that the public and civil society sectors continue to negotiate.

The importance of using specific indicators to measure implementation is illustrated by the case of England. The English Compact was the first policy document developed, signed, and implemented, so the implementation process should now be smoothly advancing. In reality, there is a lot more to do, according to recent studies using indicators tied to specific commitments in the Compact (e.g., the number of local compacts signed, the amount of funding provided to the voluntary sector, the number of government agencies that have developed actual strategies on financing the voluntary sector, and the level of awareness of Compact goals and achievements on both sides). This finding led researchers to recommend more extensive promotion, dedication of more resources to Compact implementation, and regular reviews and monitoring to ensure that the Compact is, as intended, a milestone on the path to an improved relationship between the sectors, and not the end of the journey.13

In response, in April 2005, the English government announced a new program to further promote the voluntary sector as a key partner in building a “healthy society” and in delivering public services. Plans include the launch of “Compact Plus,” a new and simplified implementation scheme; the creation of “Capacity Builders,” an agency that will manage partnership funds backed up by a £70 million funding commitment through 2008; and a further monetary investment during the same period for Futurebuilders, a government investment fund intended to promote participation of the voluntary sector in delivering public services. Perhaps as important, the program identifies reasons for past inefficiencies and proposes new measures to meet the challenges of implementation.14

b. The continuous nature of implementation

A compact is often considered a process because the purpose for which the document is adopted – improving relations between the sectors – is ongoing in nature. Inasmuch as the public-voluntary sector relationship always is open to improvement, we can argue that in practice no compact can be considered fully implemented; a document is always in the process of implementation. Each phase of implementation must therefore be viewed in the context of the whole process, contingent on current priorities yet related to previous and upcoming activities and commitments.

Take, for example, Estonia’s special Joint Commission, made up of representatives of the government and civil society. The Commission, created in October 2003, was envisioned by the Civil Society Development Concept, or EKAK. Its work enabled the two sectors to reach a higher level of collaboration. The establishment of the Commission was neither a one-off activity nor the final objective; rather, it was meant to advance other implementation goals. Among other things, the Commission was assigned to evaluate the degree to which the parties have fulfilled the commitments they undertook in the EKAK, as well as to develop an Implementation Plan for future action. Thus, while created in execution of the EKAK, this body has served as a link between various stages of the adoption and implementation processes.

The Scottish Compact, adopted in 1998, provides another example that demonstrates the continuing nature of implementation. After an initial assessment of the Compact’s implementation, the Scottish Executive/Voluntary Sector Forum agreed that the document should be “ reviewed with a particular focus on identifying ways in which it might be more effectively implemented by both the Executive and the voluntary sector.”15 A joint review group was created to report on implementation problems and to recommend solutions, demonstrating the need for periodic reexamination of a compact and its implementation.

The reporting group on the English Compact reached a similar conclusion – that the Compact should not be a “dead” paper but a “living” compact – and recommended that its implementation should be ensured “through regular reviews.”16

c. Compliance and implementation

Implementation can be considered within the broader context of compact adherence or compliance.

The term compliance suggests a comprehensive requirement for the parties to fulfill a compact in its entirety, but each and every word cannot be implemented. Along with the parties' commitments, a compact also includes “static” clauses that either establish outset positions – such as who represents one party or the other – or recognize existing circumstances or relations between the parties. For example, article 2.1 of Chapter 2 of the Voluntary Sector Scheme of Wales contains a definition of the term “voluntary sector” that the two parties agree to respect: “voluntary organizations, community groups, volunteers, self-help groups, community co-operatives and enterprises, religious organizations and other non for profit organizations of benefit to communities and people in Wales.” Another example: the Assembly of Wales, representing the public sector, undertakes “to recognize, value and promote the voluntary sector” and to build a partnership with it (art. 2.2 of the Voluntary Sector Scheme).

Further on in the Scheme, we find a provision in which the Assembly “designates the First Secretary to have overall responsibility for the Voluntary Sector Scheme” and commits to maintain “a Code of Practice for funding the voluntary sector” (art. 2.11).17 While the first provision is a statement that allocates one party's responsibilities to a particular entity within it, and as such requires general compliance in a manner subject to the parties’ interpretation, the latter is a more specific commitment that requires particular action. Compacts include both general statements and concrete provisions in order to improve public-NGO relationships, and both types of statements require observance if the compact’s objectives are to be reached. Only the specific commitments, however, are likely to require action by the parties. The parties will have to do something – adopt a document, develop a mechanism, organize an event, take an initiative, etc. – to fulfill these commitments.

d. Impact of national priorities on compacts and their implementation

Experience has shown that compacts have potential both where the NGO-government relationship is strong – they “cement and secure” it18 – and where the parties have faced problems in working together – “the Compact might act as a lever for change.”19 The implementation process and the degree to which it can be considered successful follow from the policy document itself (the drafting and negotiation process, content, momentum, etc.) as well as the objectives it establishes. In the end, though, the success of implementation should always be assessed against the specific goals of the compact.

Each national and local compact is a product of particular circumstances and designed to meet specific societal needs. The differences in circumstances and needs explains the varying values and objectives of compacts as well as the varying processes for adopting them. Not surprisingly, all of these factors affect implementation.

For example, the Croatian Program for Cooperation was developed with the primary objectives of hastening ongoing NGO legal reform. Following years of war and ethnic conflict in Croatia, the Program naturally focused on such values such as non-violence and equal opportunity. However, as discussed below, historical factors and an unstable governmental interest in the Program led to implementation problems, in particular a failure by the government to respect its commitments.

In Estonia, by contrast, the priorities were sustainability, accountability, and transparency mechanisms for civil society, subjects viewed with enthusiasm by both civil society and a committed Parliament. The result: the Estonian EKAK is among the most advanced in implementation. It has its own Implementation Plan, and the implementation schedule is followed strictly by both parties.

The national priorities are reflected in EKAK implementation activities, which are designed to address issues of great concern to both the public and voluntary sectors, including legislation regulating citizen initiatives, involvement of citizens and citizens' associations in decision-making processes, financing of citizens' associations, compilation ofstatistics on the NGO sector's size and activities, civic education, and public awareness. The necessary bodies, including joint committees, have formed and started work so that the national priorities can be realized more quickly and comprehensively, with the aim of building “a civil society and a social economy in Estonia with the active participation of its citizens.”20 For example, in the area of civic education, university programs are being developed to expand knowledge of the third sector legal framework and values among students at law and other faculties at the University of Tartu and the University of Tallinn. In the area of citizens’ involvement, the State Chancellery, the coordinating body for public involvement in governmental institutions, has collected information about and encourages new practices, such as using electronic media to promote civic engagement, training public servants in public participation methodologies, and initiating consultations and working groups on best practices.21

Similarly, in other countries, national priorities are reflected in the compact implementation process. In Denmark, NGOs have traditionally provided international aid, and the Danish Charter for Interaction focuses on this aspect of voluntary sector activity. For example, the government stopped channeling funding for international aid exclusively through large NGOs, and began funding small NGOs as well, to respect its commitment “ to make sure that the Danish NGOs have the necessary strength and legitimacy by virtue of their popular rooting.”22In Germany, the focus is on poverty alleviation.23 The compact pioneers in England sought to improve the system of funding the third sector; consequently, the English Compact requires Codes of Good Practice, including a Code on Funding and Procurement whose objective is to improve funding and procurement relationships.24

e. International sharing of lessons learned

Given their strongly national character, no compact can be duplicated in its entirety. Each national example remains unique. Most European compacts developed first at the national level, for example; in Poland, by contrast, local documents for the third sector’s engagement in delivering public services developed years before a national cooperation document was considered. As a general matter, the scope, objectives, legal force, and priorities of a national compact are specific to the country, and their wholesale transfer to another country could be not only difficult and pointless but also potentially dangerous.

The partial transfer of expertise and experience, however, can be extremely useful. Since the first compacts were signed, an intense process of international exchange of concepts, principles, models, and – lately – experiences has been going on, and it has influenced practices.

Mechanisms for such international exchange should be encouraged. One example of such an exchange is the international conference on Compacts Implementation that took place in Estonia in March 2005. The conference served as a forum for sharing implementation successes and problems from England, Estonia, Canada, and other countries.25 The advantages of such an exchange became evident as experts from countries with final or draft compacts cited prior examples of previous cross-border transfers of information: among others, the Canadian Accord was drafted on the basis of the English Compact, Estonians studied the four UK compacts in order to develop their EKAK, and Romanians have sought to learn from other countries’ experiences to help launch a successful compact campaign.

II. How should a successful implementation process be structured?

“Compacts don’t work all by themselves as if by magic.”26 Implementation requires substantial effort if a compact’s objectives are to be achieved.

The initial period of enthusiasm following the adoption of a compact often gives way to difficulties in implementation that far exceed the problems associated with preparation and signing of the policy document itself. The focus turns to recommending actions, identifying good practices (and bad practices that provide valuable learning points), proposing schedules, allocating responsibilities, and establishing mechanisms to monitor what has been achieved and what remains to be done. Joint groups and committees are formed to review and monitor how the parties fulfill their undertakings. Reports summarize major obstacles and recommend future strategies.27

For example, the Report Group on the Scottish Compact found that the Compact should have been implemented better by both parties, awareness of the Compact must be raised, stronger leadership and political commitment are essential, capacity building across both sectors needs further attention, and enhanced monitoring and evaluation are crucial. The group proposed a three-year strategy in light of these findings, taking advantage of momentum toward good implementation.28

These types of strategy papers assist in the practical realization of compact objectives and promote systems for measuring progress and identifying obstacles. In other words, they help assess where the two sectors stand on the road to a better society, what has been done and what remains to be attended to.

In England, where compacts have the longest history, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) convened a working group to develop a Mini-guide on Local Compacts Implementation. The Mini-guide offers specific advice on how to prepare and achieve successful compact follow-up at the local level. The guide emphasizes several objectives: raising awareness (making the compact known through publications, Internet postings, briefings, etc.), identifying good resources and allocating responsibilities (finding competent staff, organizing discussions, etc.), making the best application and use (good planning, briefing, developing local codes, etc.), ensuring compliance (setting up monitoring, dispute resolution, and mediation systems), and undertaking evaluation (holding review meetings, revising the texts, etc.).29

In subsequent sections, we will consider the elements of a successful implementation process, keeping in mind that the process often runs more smoothly if implementation is considered at the time the compact is negotiated. Among other things, we will address the following:

The timely and comprehensive consideration of these factors will, we hope, help build a working mechanism to achieve a compact’s objectives, to the parties’ mutual benefit and for the well-being of society.

1. Mutual interest of the parties

The success of implementation to a certain extent follows the path of drafting, negotiating, and adopting the compact. Experience demonstrates that the adoption of a compact is, as a rule, contingent upon the goodwill of the parties and a favorable set of circumstances – such as an event of national importance affecting the third sector, successful negotiations between the public and the voluntary sector on another issue, the arrival of a new government whose members are personally well-inclined toward NGOs, or the adoption of a compact in a neighboring or otherwise close country. As most compactsare not legally binding, successful implementation often depends on the goodwill of the parties to honor the commitments that they have undertaken.

If the parties are to remain committed to implementation, they must have a mutual interest in doing so, which is frequently reflected in the compact itself. The mutual expectations of the parties – including the contributions they are ready and willing to make and the outcomes they hope to achieve – must be clearly outlined. Where the compact focuses on an agenda that is “owned” by both parties, the chances that it will be realized greatly increase.

Scotland ’s compact presents an example of how a lack of commonality undermined implementation. In the Scottish compact, the public sector undertakes to apply best funding practices and flexibility in the use of financial resources to support the voluntary sector, and the voluntary sector undertakes to promote good management practice and monitor and report on the use of public funds.30 However, rather than come to agreement, the two parties decided to develop and use separate guidelines on implementing the Compact for their respective stakeholders. The Scottish Executive drafted Good Practice Guides covering issues of funding, consultation, and working partnerships available to the public bodies involved in Compact implementation. The Scottish Council of Voluntary Organizations (SCVO), representing the third sector, issued its own Implementation Guidance to Voluntary Organisations. The existence of two separate guidelines as well as a change of Executive in 1999-2000 delayed promoting and implementing the Compact. This was acknowledged as a setback by both parties, and they set up a joint review group to address the problem.31

The Compact Plus scheme – the new program recently launched by the English Government – acknowledges lack of “ownership” as among the obstacles to good implementation. Each party thought that the other should take the lead. Other challenges noted include the diversity of views and priorities within the voluntary sector.32 To overcome these problems, the scheme includes plans, among other things, to create “Capacity Builders” – an independent agency that will ensure “a sector lead focus” on partnership programs, fund management, coordination, and successful implementation of the ChangeUp program. The increased capacity of the NGO sector is expected to help organizations take the lead in their own reform and in service delivery, and to enhance their participation in policymaking. The promise of the scheme is that successful reform is more likely if the sector fully understands and leads reform rather than having it imposed by the government.33

2. Planning

Effective implementation requires separate planning, monitoring, and reporting, often initiated at the time the document is negotiated. In Estonia and Scotland, the parties developed separate implementation strategies with the objectives of reviewing compact achievements, examining difficulties, and outlining future actions. An implementation plan may also be drafted as a part of a compact. For example, the Croatian Program for Cooperation includes a short section on implementation.

Both approaches have potential for success, and the choice depends on national and political traditions and preferences. Planning implementation at the time of compact adoption ensures that the parties agree on general guidelines for future actions. A more detailed implementation strategy developed after the compact’s adoption facilitates the allocation of tasks and responsibilities as well as development of specific steps to implement the compact’s provisions, based on data gathered from assessment and the initial implementation experience. Under either approach, the implementation plan may be periodically reviewed and amended, either as part of the process of revising the compact or separately.

Various mechanisms have been introduced to ensure effective planning, both during compact negotiation and later, during implementation.

These experiences, diverse as they are, suggest that planning is essential at the outset of the compact process. At the same time, the parties should be flexible during implementation so as to adapt to a changing environment, including new priorities, obstacles, and players.

a. How early?

The question of how early the implementation process should be considered appears rhetorical: it is impossible to start preparations too early. It is only logical that implementation of a compact should be considered as soon as the concept of an agreement is introduced. For example, the English Compact includes implementation provisions that were discussed and adopted together with the rest of the document.36 However, attitudes as well as implementation mechanisms may change over time. The lessons learned from practice should be applied to adapt implementation to the current political, social, legislative, economic, and/or cultural environment.

Estonia provides a very good example of such flexibility. The Estonian EKAK37 resulted from bilateral initiatives and nationwide public discussions. Initially, the implementation process proved slow and difficult, but both sides responded with renewed initiative. By 2003, a Joint Committee formed, with representatives of government (8) and non-profit organizations (14). In August 2004, the Estonian government adopted the 2004-2006 i mplementation plan for the EKAK on the basis of the work of the Committee. This was the first use of a separately developed document in connection implementing a compact. The EKAK implementation plan formulates goals, activities to achieve each goal, and specific indicators to measure achievement. It allocates responsibilities and fixes a schedule. Although the implementation plan was drafted in pursuit of the EKAK’s short-term priorities,38 it also came as a result of the government and the non-profit sector's joint efforts and understanding of the essential aspects of civil, legislative, and economic life in the country and the importance of adopting a comprehensive approach to solving problems in these areas.

3. The influence of a compact’s provisions on successful implementation

The content and scope of a compact depends on a number of factors, including national political and legislative traditions, the current political and social environment, timing, models used in the drafting process, particular features of the discussion and negotiation process, and personal preferences of the drafting team. One approach to drafting a compact is not necessarily superior to another in terms of assuring good implementation; England and Estonia achieved similar results despite differing approaches.

In England, the Compact is a comparatively short document outlining the general framework for future cooperation. By contrast, in Estonia, the EKAK is detailed, addressing many aspects of cooperation and elaborating means for implementation. Yet in both countries, compacts have been publicizedand have substantially progressed toward effective implementation. Significantly, both countries have implementation plans of local, national, and maybe even international importance: the Mini-guide on Local Compacts Implementation in England and the EKAK Implementation Plan. The former lists the main steps to take and proposes a checklist of activities at the local level, whereas the latter is, like the EKAK itself, more detailed and instructive, including schedules and specific tasks and responsibilities. These are two different but equally successful approaches toward the follow-up stages of a compact, which illustrate that differences in the contents of compacts do not necessarily produce different probabilities of successful implementation.

Regardless of the specificity and detail in the compact, experience demonstrates that the text should provide clear guidelines on implementation. These guidelines can provide for the following:

However, the approach toward formulating a compact should not be carved in stone. New circumstances may call for reconsidering the contents of a compact. In England, for example, the Government recently adopted a program called “Strengthening Partnerships: Next Steps to Compact.” The program acknowledges that the Compact might not have worked as well as it could have because, among other reasons, both the agreement and the Codes are too lengthy – about 140 pages together. As a result, both the government and the community sector may have had difficulty complying with the terms of these documents. To overcome this problem, the new “Compact Plus” is designed to be a much simpler and “more succinct tool” that will enable organizations to evaluate their compliance more easily.39

4. Dissemination of information on the policy document

Almost every country with a compact has experienced the need, sooner or later, to convey information about compacts and implementation to all players and to the public. Given that a key objective of these documents is ordinarily to encourage participation in political life and to raise the level of services delivered to the public, the public must be included in the awareness-raising campaign. Moreover, the commitments established in a compact cannot be fully met if the document is relegated to the folders of those who have signed it, so the parties must also be targeted by the campaign. Awareness-raising has been recognized as crucial in facilitating implementation; it is considered among the most important next steps in implementation in Estonia, Canada, England, Wales, and Scotland.

The English Mini-guide on Local Compacts Implementation advises that a compact should be publicized in every way possible: websites, events, publications, interviews, etc.40 It also underlines the importance of the emotional aspect of publicity with the advice: “Communicate your Compact imaginatively and with enthusiasm.”41 Communicating competence and optimism is perhaps a secondary but still indispensable element of awareness-raising.

Many factors contribute to an effective publicity campaign. One key element is a working system of statistics analysis and research. The collection and targeted distribution of data can play a crucial role in successful implementation. Experts from various fields who have participated in compact development can assist in awareness-raising by using such data to explain the compact and its implementation.

Even in England, where compacts originated (and reputedly one of the best countries for follow-up activities and implementation), awareness of the Compact’s existence is still considered low.42 The lack of broadly applicable mechanisms for Compact promotion may account in part for the low level of awareness. For example, on the public side, some government departments were very active, with senior officials visiting regional offices, publishing materials, running workshops, discussing compacts at internal events, and mentioning them on any available occasion. Others, however, were not, instead relying on one “champion” (see section 6-b, below) or treating the compact as irrelevant to their work. Some of these attitudes changed with the launch of new policies demanding a more diversified range of service-providers and, therefore, wider participation of the voluntary sector in government decision-making and closer cooperation between government departments and voluntary organizations.

Internet sites are a modern means of information dissemination – easy, accessible to a broad audience, and frequently rich in content. NGOs’ websites, sites specifically created to offer updates on compact implementation, and government sites can all be used. For example, England has a website containing information on the national and local compacts.43 The data are recent and reliable. As a result, the site achieves its objective of making available comprehensive information about the compacts – their drafting and adoption, discussions, review, revisions, practice, and contacts. This method works well in Estonia too, where the site of the Roundtable of Estonian NGOs offers the texts of EKAK and the Implementation Plan as well as activity reports and other interesting information. A special website that is part of the Voluntary Sector Initiative in Canada44 includes the text of the Accord and related initiatives, the institutional framework, reports, research and statistics, etc. It is regularly updated as well.

Organizations that work in more than one country and thus have access to comparative information regarding compacts also assist in creating awareness. The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law has posted on its website45 not only descriptions of and articles on compacts (e.g., from France, Croatia, Estonia) but comparative research on related issues as well.46

Other technological means can also be deployed in raising awareness: CD-ROMs and video presentations have joined workbooks and training sessions in the toolbox used by the Canadian government and the voluntary sector in implementing the Accord and the Codes of Good Practice.47

Disseminated information requires regular updates. Changed circumstances and any revisions to compacts mean that publicity must change. This applies to websites as much as to other means, as neglect in keeping a site up to date may render it useless or misleading. In 2001, the French government created a site on “vie associative” and posted data relevant to the newly adopted NGO Charter.48 The site contains the text of the document, descriptions of the commitments by the government and the third sector and developments relating to these commitments, contact information, and several additional legislative and political documents, speeches, and news reports. This information is no longer up to date, however, and has lost much of its value. Similarly, in Croatia, the site dedicated to the Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs and the Program for Cooperation with NGOs offers material posted in 2002 that, except for the text of the Program, is no longer relevant.49 (To some extent, the gap is filled by the site of the new National Foundation for Civil Society Development, created to replace the Office.50)

One example of awareness-raising that could serve as a model is England's “Compact Week,” “an annual awareness raising week to highlight how the Compact can help voluntary and community organizations in their relationships with central and local government.”51 During Compact Week, each component of the two parties is asked to undertake at least one activity to promote the Compact or to learn more about it.

a. Dissemination of best practices

Dissemination of best practices – cases where the government-NGO relationship has improved as a result of a well-implemented compact – is an essential aspect of implementation, closely related to publicizing the compact. Again, the English Compact serves as a good example: the website dedicated to the compact includes a section on “sharing good practices,”52 featuring success stories on government and NGO practices in publicizing the Compact, heeding its principles, establishing and developing cooperative relations, and building good partnerships on the national and local levels.

Despite some achievements in disseminating good practices, though, England has no set mechanism to identify such practices or to “highlight behaviour which is not compliant with the Compact,” as the Government recently acknowledged. Because a compact is generallynot a legally binding agreement, sanctions for noncompliance cannot be imposed, which can diminish its effectiveness. Compact Plus (see above) does attempt to sanction noncomplying parties that have declared their full adherence to elements of the compact.

Various best practices can serve as models, including the following: specific partnerships formed to pursue a local compact, closer cooperation between local authorities and NGOs, development of new forms of funding for the voluntary sector, introduction of improved systems for delivering services, and establishment of discussion groups, as well as initiating, drafting, and adopting local compacts.

The Croatian National Foundation for Civil Society Development offers awards to mayors who have promoted good practices in cooperation with the civil society sector. The Foundation took over many of the functions of the Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs, which (with the leadership and initiative of the former Director of the Office and current Manager of the Foundation, Mrs. Plavsa-Matic) organized and coordinated the drafting, discussion, and adoption of the Croatian Government Program for Cooperation with NGOs. The mayoral award announcements are posted on the website of the Foundation53 and provide not only a forum for sharing best implementation practices, but also an incentive for local administrations to seek NGO partners.

An interesting success story was publicized through the website of the English Compact.54 This was the Leicester case, which some consider a legal precedent on the Compact. When the city council reduced their funding, the voluntary organizations took the council to court. The court decided that fair consultations had not taken place and issued a judgment obliging the Leicester Council “to consult again with local groups after funding cuts were proposed.” The High Court ordered the council to reinstate funding to the voluntary bodies that had not been consulted about the cuts.

The importance of the Leicester case is threefold. First, by taking account of Compact principles, it underlines the force of the local compact as a document with which both voluntary organizations and local authorities should comply. Second, it serves as a reminder that a compact is not a partisan political paper; rather, it reflects commitments of governments, central and local, that cannot and should not be neglected even when the party in office changes. And third, the case demonstrates the practical necessity of abiding by compact commitments; if the council had consulted fairly with NGOs, it could have avoided paying the case costs and facing the embarrassment “ of having decisions quashed by a judge.”55

5. Parties’ involvement: joint implementation strategy

All parties to the discussion and adoption of a compact must be involved in preparing a sound implementation scheme. Even when the compact is unilaterally adopted or is not legally binding, commitments are more likely to be respected by parties that have participated in drafting the agreement. In addition, experience with drafting helps establish a more consistent and long-lasting practice of meetings, discussions, and joint work, which has proved to be one of the basic prerequisites for a well-prepared, efficient, and well-implemented cooperation document

David Carrington, a member of the English ACU, emphasizes that a joint strategy increases the chances for successful implementation because it takes advantage of the strengths of both sides.56 The Estonian implementation plan, for example, was developed by experts from government and the third sector through a Joint Committee and shared chairmanship of the working groups. According to participants, this approach worked well, and it illustrates the benefits of close and active involvement by both sides. It could also be applied in a flexible manner in other countries to contribute to successful implementation.

Similarly, when the French State-Associations Charter provided for a three-year evaluation of its implementation, the task was assigned to the National Council for Associative Life (CNVA), an entity through which NGO representatives and government members advise the government on issues related to the third sector.57

The parties can adopt a “joint” working plan even if it results from the efforts of just one of them. For example, in Croatia, the Program for Cooperation was developed by the government unit for cooperation with NGOs, although the input of numerous organizations (about 30,000 NGOs) was invited and considered.

6. Institutional framework for implementation
Liaison bodies

The implementation process requires an adequate institutional framework to function effectively. Good implementation is often accomplished by specific bodies with defined responsibilities for working with the other sector and carrying out the compact’s terms. Compacts are in the first instance political rather than administrative tools – they are crafted and adopted by politicians and then implemented by civil servants. The creation of specific liaison and implementation bodies can help ensure a successful transition from the political to the administrative realm. The “administrative viability of institutions for ongoing development” is one of the decisive tests of implementation success.59

Such bodies have been established primarily in the public sector, which often carries a heavier responsibility for implementation. Much of this is logical – it is mostly governments that have committed to give while the non-profit sector is expected to accept and report. In Canada, a government division responsible for non-profit and voluntary affairs was created at Social Development Canada, part of the Voluntary Sector Initiative. The Division develops policy related to the non-profit sector, coordinates joint initiatives, and facilitates the Accord’s implementation.60 The process is monitored by a Joint Steering Committee.

The implementation section of the Scottish Compact focuses on governmental commitments to form and maintain an administrative unit to “promote voluntary sector interests” as well as to ensure that all departments within the Executive have such units. The Scottish Executive has appointed officers in its Voluntary Sector liaison offices with responsibilities for the third sector and Compact implementation, review, monitoring, and evaluation.61

In Croatia, the Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs not only coordinated the development and adoption of the Program for Cooperation with NGOs, but also launched the initial stages of the Program’s implementation.62 The Estonian government appointed ministers as members of the Joint Committee that elaborated the EKAK Action Plan.

b. “Compact champions”

Compacts, of course, are implemented by people. For successful implementation, these people must have specific responsibilities, a strong understanding of compact principles, and adequate capacity to carry out their tasks.

There is no such specialty as “compact-drafter” or “compact-implementer.” These skills are acquired through practice. For example, in Estonia, the leaders of two of the biggest NGOs in the country – Kristina Mand (NENO) and Mall Hellam (Open Society Foundation) – have been among the most active participants in compact-development mechanisms since the initial phases of negotiation. More recently, they have served as co-chairs of two of the working groups for the EKAK Implementation Plan. They have become experts on cooperation issues as a result of their experience.

In England, so-called “compact champions” have been designated to promote the Compact or one of the codes adopted under it. These are well-qualified individuals devoted to the Compact’s ideals. At the central government level, these champions were initially senior officials within various departments who were assigned to drive the Compact forward. These appointments had varying results: certain champions who “embraced that responsibility … with enthusiasm” fulfilled their tasks,63 whereas some champions left Compact promotion to others. Where the assigned minister viewed the Compact as a political priority, other officials followed his or her lead, and the department took active steps (including allocating funds) to implement the agreement. The lesson learned from these experiences is that successful implementation demands understanding and acceptance of compact principles by senior state officials and careful selection of responsible “champions” for implementation.64

The importance of the personnel factor is clearly illustrated by the Croatian example. As mentioned above, the Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs has been a leading body in the Program for Cooperation process from the outset. The role of its former director – Mrs. Cvjetana Plavsa-Matic – must be highlighted, as the launch of the program largely resulted from her personal initiative. After Mrs. Plavsa-Matic left the office, however, her position remained unfilled for some time due to the new government’s lack of interest in the Program’s implementation. As a result, the text of the Program has not been revised since its adoption, despite a requirement to the contrary in the Program, and most implementation activities have been “frozen.” Although the lack of political will in the new government is the primary cause, the negative impact of a key player’s departure is beyond dispute.

The role of competent “compact staff” can be essential both for awareness-raising and for fulfilling commitments. In England, government personnel expressed frustration “with the failure of central government to comply with Compact requirements, both on funding and, particularly, on consultation.”65 In one department, the staff even responded to a central government circular with the comment that it was inconsistent with Compact principles.

Formation and training of staff can be part of the compact discussions and drafting. Experts can train those engaged in implementation so that all of them can actively and positively contribute. The English local Mini-guide recommends “training so that people know how to use your Compact.”66 As one of its primary functions, the Croatian Foundation for Civil Society Development has listed training public servants to increase their capacity to implement joint projects with the civil sector.67 Under the Estonian EKAK, training programs for officials should include topics related to civic society. The heads of civic organizations are also involved in the training programs. Civic education in Croatia has been advanced by university programs offering a Master’s degree in Non-profit Management. First-phase priorities of the Canadian Voluntary Sector Initiative have included increasing the capacity of the voluntary sector to “meet the demands placed on it”68 and to serve society, resulting in increased third sector skills and knowledge to manage resources.69

c. The role of experts

In all countries that have launched a compact process, experts have been a logical and inherent part of it. Lawyers, economists, sociologists, and other specialists are usually involved from the outset and can be an asset in the follow-up stages as well.

The experts can play a range of roles. They may provide largely technical guidance, through proposing language for the compact or participating in working and discussion groups. But their contributions can be much greater, both during and after drafting and adoption. By providing advice on the content, experts can influence how the compact’s provisions will affect its implementation. They can also advise on factors that influence implementation, and participate in training in order to ensure that both sectors have competent staff to carry out their implementation tasks.

7. Momentum

A timely kick-off is key to the success of a compact implementation campaign. Equally important is building momentum from the adoption of a compact through the launch of implementation. In other words, the parties should not to wait too long after signing the agreement before beginning implementation. As the English experience shows, lengthy preparations pose a risk that the optimal time for a launch will pass and the issues will become “too cold.”70 A prolonged gap between publishing a compact and starting implementation takes the issues off the agenda. Interest and enthusiasm diminish, and opportunities to initiate activities wane. Once momentum is lost, new activities designed to keep issues hot may become necessary. These may include renewed discussions, publication of explanatory documents, distribution of success stories, or revision and redrafting of the implementation plan where one exists.

The second Annual Review of the English Compact remarked that “[c]ompact development at both national and local level seemed to have lost its momentum.”71 This was attributed to insufficient support provided by central government departments “and a decline in support from intermediary organisations such as the Local Government Association….”72

In order to build momentum, implementation and monitoring should be planned alongside the compact itself. A well-implemented compact may in practice depend on political will, culture, and traditions in a given country. However, good monitoring mechanisms and clearly allocated responsibilities at the outset helps to avoid some potential obstacles and strengthens the links between drafting, adopting, and implementing.

The French NGO Charter was signed in 2001 during the celebrations of the 100-year anniversary of the Law on Associations. The year was also declared an International Year of Voluntarism – an ideal time to promote the role of NGOs in political and social life in a country where associative life has strong traditions. The government undertook to implement some activities, mostly those related to promoting volunteer work and financing mechanisms. A government decree authorized public bodies to enter into multiyear agreements subsidizing NGO programs, and an evaluation guide was drafted and published. Employees received additional rights to take time off to perform volunteer work. Laws were enacted providing for greater tax incentives, particularly to encourage charitable donations,. Many of these measures began before 2001, so the Charter did not actually introduce them but rather built on them. With the change of government in 2002, however, the Charter was no longer a priority, and the momentum toward more comprehensive implementation was unfortunately lost.

8. Review and revision processes

As mentioned above, chances of successful implementation increase where the parties agree on implementation provisions at the outset and include them in the compact itself. Providing for review and revision of the compact can be helpful, as a way of demonstrating a commitment to compact ideals even while acknowledging that implementation may take place under changed circumstances. Revising the compact is in itself part of good-faith implementation, because it expresses the parties’ commitment to continue improving their relationship – the main objective of a compact – under changed circumstances.

In practice, it is not easy to separate the processes of adopting a compact, revising it, and implementing it; they are interrelated. Implementation tests the level of preciseness, timeliness, and comprehensiveness of the compact articles, which may lead to revision – unsuccessful implementation may be attributable to a poorly written compact. A process of revision and amendment of the text may follow, and then an attempt to implement the new content. The Scottish Compact, for example, will be revised due to lessons learned during implementation; a similar process is underway in Wales.

Review and revision provisions are standard in compacts. In Estonia, the provisions of the EKAK regarding such revisions are quite clear: the government and representatives of the civil society sector (the Round Table of Non-profit Associations) are assigned to prepare annual action plans and create a mechanism “for on-going monitoring and assessing of the implementation process of EKAK.” Reporting on implementation at the parliamentary level takes place every two years, and parliamentary discussions of proposals for amending the EKAK are to be held every five years. All parties concerned have so far complied with their allocated responsibilities, including the Joint Committee, the government, all public institutions, and the civil sector.74

Under the English Compact, implementation review is done jointly by the Compact Working Group, the government, and the Local Governments Association at a regular annual meeting. The participants review progress in implementing the national Compact and local compacts and agree on an action plan to advance the Compact for the coming year. A summary of the meeting’s discussions (together with proposals and concerns raised by the voluntary sector) is submitted to Parliament and posted on the Internet.75

The Scottish Compact also confirms the parties’ commitments to monitoring, review, and evaluation procedures and to report to Parliament. In 2003, the Compact was reviewed and revised to ensure that its principles were up to date. Mapping studies, case studies, and best practices are being undertaken as part of a broader evaluation process, which aims to reach conclusions on the progress of implementation and the impact of the document.

The Croatian Program for Cooperation also envisages annual meetings between the government and the civil society sector to “revise and analyse actions within the Program.” The report from these discussions must be made public and submitted to Parliament. However, due to the change of government and its priorities, along with staff changes in the government body responsible for the Program’s implementation, these activities have not taken place; the text of the Program has not been revised and analyzed.

“The Paradox of Compact: Monitoring the Impact of Compacts,”76 a report from the Home Office in England, emphasizes the importance of compact reviews. In 2002, Her Majesty’s Treasury commissioned and published a review of the role of the voluntary and community sector in service delivery, which “saw the Compact as underpinning the expansion of the sector’s role”77 and confirmed the Government’s commitment to the Compact. Many interviewees commented that the review had raised the profile of the Compact. In addition, government offices planned several seminars to discuss the review, which were expected to increase awareness of the content and values of the Compact and facilitate its implementation.78

9. Monitoring and reporting mechanisms

Virtually all compacts require monitoring. The parties generally recognize this need to monitor their fulfillment of commitments and appoint specific bodies for monitoring and evaluation. Sometimes these are joint institutions, such as the Joint Committee in Estonia or the Joint Steering Committee in Canada. In other instances, they are units formed by a particular sector, such as the specialized unit assigned to the Executive in Scotland.

Most “compact countries” establish mechanisms for parliamentary reporting, whether they function in practice or not. This signifies the importance attached to compact implementation. In certain countries, including Estonia, the Parliament actually takes part in the discussions, whereas in others, it is simply informed about compact-related developments.

In England, parliamentary discussions during the Compact Annual Meeting allow for questions on Compact implementation, to which Government Ministers must respond. The action plan proposed by the working group must be approved by Parliament, thus setting up a system of parliamentary control. Currently, a more active role for Parliament in the Compact process is under consideration.

All compacts establish specific and generally limited deadlines for reporting: two years in Estonia, annually in England and in Croatia. The French State-Associations Charter is reviewed every three years, and the Welsh Compact every four years. A regular review and reporting mechanism appears to be considered essential for effective parliamentary control. Even more effective is Canada's system of public reporting on compact implementation, because the reporting has a wider impact and enhances the possibility that public opinion may influence the implementation process. Joint public reports and separate background papers on Accord implementation are regularly published.

10. Mediation and dispute-resolution system

The adoption of a compact signifies a relatively advanced relationship between public institutions and the civil society sector. Nonetheless, disputes and problems are inevitable. Many compact countries have considered how to resolve these disputes, whether through existing means of dispute resolution or through mechanisms specific to the compact.

The most obvious avenue of dispute resolution is the judicial system. At least in theory, a party (most likely the civil society sector) may take the other party to court and claim a breach of the latter’s obligations under a compact. The Leicester case mentioned above demonstrated that this mechanism can be effective. One problem with the courts, though, is that compacts as a rule are not legally binding. Although the precedential effect of the Leicester case is even greater in the light of the non-binding nature of the Compact, it is still uncertain whether other countries' courts will give similar effect to a compact’s provisions. Alternative means of problem solving therefore need to be developed, preferably of a more flexible and less drastic nature – for example, mediation systems.

England actually has such a system: the Compact Mediation Scheme, funded by the Home Office. The scheme is run by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), which has an extensive experience in resolving disputes on diverse issues, and as of January 2005 had worked on more than 8,000 cases. The Centre has mediated Compact-based disputes between government or local public bodies and voluntary organizations since March 2003. It operates the mediation scheme on behalf of the Home Office’s Active Community Unit.79 According to the Home Office Minister, Lord Filkin, the “new mediation service provides an independent way of resolving disagreements quickly.”80 The mediation system in England has great potential, but it has not yet become popular as a dispute-resolution mechanism for compact-related issues.

Also in England, the Program on Compact Advocacy run by the National Centre of Voluntary Organizations offers legal assistance and, through the Compacts Problem Resolution program, provides negotiation, advocacy, and lobbying or campaigningservices on behalf of voluntary organizations when a Government department or agency fails to comply with a Compact.81

The Parliamentary Ombudsperson is another institution that Englanduses to provide supplementary resources to the implementation process. It is available to assist citizens who seek redress where a public institution has infringed their rights or neglected its duties, including cases of noncompliance with a Compact (national or local).

The new program “Compact Plus” in England anticipates a novel mechanism for dispute-resolution. The new Compact, which will be shorter and simpler in content, will require membership – public sector bodies and voluntary organizations will opt to join. They will elect a Compact Champion who, among other functions, will adjudicate complaints of Compact Plus breaches. Sanctions will include a publication of the resolution, potential withdrawal of Compact Plus membership, and imposition of penalties or compensation .82

III. What are the indicators of successful compact implementation?
The search for measurable indicators

Now that a number of compacts are in their implementation phases, it is appropriate to ask how to recognize success. How are the parties – and society in general – to be sure that these initiatives have not merely been expensive wastes of time? Are the statements of the government and CSOs that they have begun to work together sufficient?

To answer these questions, compact proponents have worked to develop monitoring and evaluation tools to gauge the progress of implementation against the compact’s goals. This has led to a search for appropriate indicators against which to measure progress. As compacts are still a relatively new phenomenon, there is little information available regarding what progress has actually been achieved. However, a number of countries have begun to develop indicators that will assist in making this determination.

The most appropriate indicators depend on the goal of a particular compact. Where the document seeks to promote public-private cooperation in the delivery of services, for example, improved services (social or other) to citizens on a national or local scale can signal a well-implemented compact. So, to the extent that one could measure the improvement in particular services as a result of compact implementation, it would be a sign of success.

One difficulty is how to measure such improvement – how to quantify the impact. One indicator might be the increase in the number of NGOs delivering public services. Alternatively, where competition exists, it might be possible to estimate the percent of clients who have chosen NGOs as their service provider. However, these indicators, while relatively easy to measure, fail to address a key component of service delivery: the quality of services. Thus, appropriate indicators might include measures of client satisfaction with services – more difficult and probably more expensive to quantify. Moreover, compact results may not appear immediately; and when improvement does appear, it will not always be clear whether it arose from the compact or from other circumstances and events. In either case, results are often difficult to measure.

The search for appropriate indicators affects the parties’ credibility and accountability, both to each other and to the public. The government may say that a compact has resulted in better public participation in legislation, but for true accountability, the improvement must be quantified. For example, it may be demonstrated that fewer draft laws are now adopted without public participation than was the case before the compact. NGOs may claim that the government has not fulfilled its commitment to increase funding for the third sector; however, this could be shown to be false if data indicate the contrary. In Canada, the Accord’s implementation has brought about 70 changes in the regulatory framework for the voluntary sector, and the commitment to increase knowledge about the sector has resulted in the preparation of three national surveys on non-profit related issues83 – figures that help gauge the concrete impact of the Accord.

The success of implementation cannot be measured solely by fulfilling certain compact provisions. For example, if a compact provides for a government agency or other unit to secure the third sector’s interests, establishing such a body does not necessarily fulfill the underlying objective of raising the sector's profile. The agency must also achieve results by discharging its responsibilities and advancing the objectives of the compact.

Successful implementation is a process, and a young one at that, so development of appropriate indicators is still underway. In Estonia, the NGO sector led by NENO has undertaken to draft a set of indicators, expected to be ready by the end of 2005.84 Developing indicators is one of the next steps in Canada’s Accord implementation as well.

There are many possibilities for tangible measurement of implementation, depending on the compact's specific goals:

  1. the number of legislative acts adopted using new public participation procedures ;
  2. the number of public discussions and consultations held on legislative drafts ;
  3. the number of legislative acts in furtherance of the compact or to facilitate its implementation (tax laws, laws on charity giving, procurement laws, etc.)85;
  4. the number of training sessions organized for civil servants and non-profits on cooperation issues and compact implementation ;
  5. the percentage of civil servants, NGOs, or the general public aware of a compact’s existence, content, and implementation tools , as established by surveys;
  6. the number and scope of structural changes to governmental institutions and non-profits in order to facilitate their relationship, such as national and local liaison offices established on the basis of compact;
  7. the number of joint initiatives undertaken by the two sectors on a national or local scale ;
  8. the amount of public funds transferred to not-for-profits ;
  9. structural changes in government funding for NGOs , such as the ratio of contract-based funding to grant funding;
  10. development, dissemination, and estimated compliance with performance evaluation procedures and rules ;
  11. the number of contracts for public service delivery signed and implemented between state or local authorities and NGOs ; and
  12. the quality of public services delivered by NGOs .

Despite some positive examples, more tangible indicators need to be developed. Their preparation and use will require efficient mechanisms for data collection, statistical research, information dissemination, and feedback evaluation.

2. Is the number of codes of practice or other documents signed on the basis of the compact a good indicator of successful implementation?

Some have suggested that where a compact contemplates a code of good practice, the adoption of such a code can be a measure of successful implementation. The adoption of codes, however, is not likely to serve as a particularly useful indicator.

Codes of good practice have been envisaged by the English Compact and the Canadian Accord. Following up on the Accord, two Codes of Good Practice have been signed in Canada: on Funding and on Public Policy. The English Compact designates five areas within which a code of good practice must be signed: black and minority ethnic groups, community groups, consultation and policy appraisal, funding and procurement, and volunteering.

The adoption of a code of good practice is not in itself a sign of compact implementation. Political culture and traditions explain the existence of codes of good practice in the UK and Canada and not in the countries with a continental legal system. Compacts seek a better and more constructive relationship between the two sectors to the benefit of society.86 This can be achieved by implementing a series of specific measures, through codes or other means.Thus, a code is a means rather than an end in itself. The website of the Canadian Voluntary Sector Initiative recognizes as much: “ The Codes of Good Practice are a resource of tangible, concrete ideas about how to take the spirit and guidelines of the Accord and put them into action in both government and voluntary sector organizations.”87 In England, the codes contain specific rights and responsibilities of both parties which should be reflected in their relationship “to make it work.”88

3. Is the number of local policy documents signed a good indicator of successful implementation?

From the national level, compact negotiations often move to the local level and end with local compacts. This usually – but not exclusively – happens when the national compact provides for future local agreements to be signed. The adoption of local compacts in some countries, such as England, is considered evidence of success in implementing the national compact. Where the national compact explicitly contemplates local compacts, the number of local compacts signed could logically be considered an appropriate indicator of successful implementation. Four years after the Compact was signed in England, there have been documented efforts toward developing local compacts in 94% of the 388 counties.89 At the 2004 Annual Compact Meeting of the Compact Working Group, Government Ministers and Local Governments Association, one of the goals was to set up Compacts in all remaining local authorities by April 2005.90

The February 2005 English report, however, concluded that the mere quantity of local compacts could no longer be considered a test of successful implementation. Rather, the focus turned to quality – whether local compacts are well drafted, well publicized, and effectively implemented.91 Therefore, despite the impressive number of compacts signed in the counties and regionally, a new and perhaps more difficult to measure indicator of successful implementation seems to be taking hold – the quality of local policy documents on cooperation. Quality can be evaluated based on the impact of implementation. This means that the process of measuring successful implementation is transferred to the local level.

Again, this is an issue closely related to political traditions and culture as well as the compact's particular goals. The means of evaluating local compacts cannot be transferred intact from one to another country.

Croatia recently registered its first “local charter.” In November 2004, the City Council of Rijeka adopted an NGO Charter regulating cooperation between the city and local NGOs. The Charter sets city policy toward NGOs, emphasizing transparency in financing NGO activities. It provides for the creation of a Coordination Committee, to consist of NGO representatives and city government representatives. The Committee will set standards for city departments that finance NGO activities, providing them with templates, procedures, and objective criteria for evaluating grant proposals. Vukovarska County has already followed the Rijeka example, using it as a model for its own NGO Charter. Other local governments are expected to initiate the adoption of similar documents.92 While the signing of such agreements may not be a valid indicator of the success of a national compact, they are nonetheless encouraging, particularly given the delays in implementing the national Program for Cooperation mentioned above. They also present an opportunity to transfer national negotiations and agreements to the local level.

Local compacts have been particularly important in Poland, where they preceded and were independent of the national agreement. The first agreements between local authorities and the local community sector appeared in the 1990s, seeking to unite the sectors’ efforts to improve public services. Polish local compacts were therefore more limited in scope than many; at the same time, though, they went beyond most other compacts by addressing concrete technical issues of cooperation rather than just principles and values. Terms included the establishment of liaison offices, joint coordination bodies, funding, etc. The Law on Public Benefit Associations now requires local governments to adopt compacts.93 More recently, an agreement similar to a compact has been signed by representatives of the public, business, and non-profit sectors; this document sets forth shared principles of cooperation for the development of Polish regions and the role of NGOs in that process.94 Obviously, the adoption of local compacts in Poland has no bearing on the success of the national agreement, since they preceded it. Nonetheless, the Polish situation provides an interesting illustration of how local context must be considered in choosing indicators of success, as circumstances vary so widely.

4. Improved relationship and joint follow-up activities by the parties

The relationship between the public sector and the third sector is difficult to evaluate and measure because it has numerous facets. More frequent meetings and discussions, common projects, or the signing of a local compact may appear to indicate improvements in the NGO-government relationship. But quantifiable measures may not bear this out. The parties need to demonstrate in a more rigorous fashion – to the public and to themselves – that their relations have moved from the stage of understanding each other to that of cooperating and working together.

For example, England's Compact Working Group conducts an annual sector survey. In 2003, the survey found a higher rate of improvement in inter-sector relations in communities where local compacts were being developed. “A poll taken at Swale’s Local Compact event six months after publishing their compact gave a 27 per cent net improvement in the council’s relationship with local groups.”95 Therefore, despite certain problems and difficulties in compact implementation discussed above, the parties have achieved a noticeable improvement in their relationship through working together.

The Charter for Interaction between Volunteer Denmark / Associations Denmark and the public sector illustrates another way to measure improved relations stemming from a compact. As discussed above, a key component of the Danish government’s development assistance strategy, and a moving force behind the Charter, was the need to strengthen small Danish NGOs in providing humanitarian assistance. In the Charter, therefore, the Government committed that “funding made available to NGO projects will to a lesser extent be channelled through a small group of large … organisations”96 and will instead be distributed to a broader range of organizations. This represented public recognition of the government's need to accept more organizations as partners. The change in the distribution of funding seeks to preserve or raise the quality of assistance to developing countries while at the same time improving flexibility and strengthening popular support for Danish NGOs by broadening the spectrum of funded organizations. By 2004, assistance to the large NGOs has been reduced by 5 percent, and will be reduced by approximately 10 percent in 2006, with those funds allocated to smaller NGOs.97 The established relationship of confidence made it possible to ensure that relief activities can be launched on very short notice, an important factor in implementing programs for humanitarian assistance.

IV. Conclusion

Governments and the non-profit sector have a long history of cooperating and collaborating. Institutionalized relationships supported by a legal framework and based on a policy document, however, are quite recent. Although not indispensable to the public-voluntary sector relationship in all countries, compacts have proved efficient, supportive, and sometimes even crucial to good cooperation in the interest of society. This is true on one condition: the compact does not remain a mere piece of paper, but generates respect and diligent compliance on the part of all concerned.

The lessons learned have come from both positive and negative practices – good and bad experiences have proved equally educational. These lessons include the following:

Where compacts have been adopted, the primary challenge now facing the two sectors is to identify tangible indicators to measure implementation. Such indicators will enable both parties to see more clearly how their compact has contributed to a better working relationship. More advanced measurement schemes will help the parties to adapt the compact to new realities. Further, they will assist in faster, simpler, and more effective implementation of all terms by both parties, to the benefit of society.


1 Radost Toftisova is a consultant to the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law with expertise in the laws relating to NGO-government partnerships. Special thanks and acknowledgments for their help and support to this research to ICNL staff Douglas Rutzen and Cathy Shea, ECNL staff Nilda Bullain and Katerina Hadzi-Miceva, as well as Richard Fries, Susan Phillips, Jeremy Kendall, Joseph Proietti, Sladana Novota, and Kristina Mand.

2 http://www.thecompact.org.uk.

3 Bullain, N., Toftisova, R., A Comparative Analysis of European Policies and Practices of NGO-Government Cooperation, International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law, September 2005, http://www.icnl.org/journal/vol7iss4/art_1.htm.

4 For additional information, see http://www.dti.gov.uk/cics/.

5 http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/docs4/Compact_61pp_web.pdf.

6 Idem.

7 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/library5/government/scimps-00.asp.

8 EKAK Implementation Plan, http://www.ngo.ee/orb.aw/class=file/action=preview/id=4316/material_EKAK_impl_plan_2004_2006_Eng_ final_02.doc.

9 Based on input from Marie Gauthier, Director of Social Development Canada, Non-Profit and Voluntary Sector Affairs Division, presentation at the conference on Civil Society Excellence, March 3-5, 2005, Tallinn, Estonia.

10 Based on input from Cvjetana Plavsa-Matic, Director of the Foundation for Civil Society Development in Croatia.

11 http://www.um.dk/Publikationer/Danida/English/DanishDevelopmentCooperation/ AWorldOfDifference /kap03_1.asp.

12 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/library5/government/scimps-00.asp.

13 “The Paradox of Compacts: Monitoring the Impact of Compacts,” Home Office Online Report, February 2005, http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/rdsolr0205.pdf.

14 http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/comrace/active/temp/bright_future.html.

15 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/library5/government/scimps-00.asp.

16 Supra note 13.

17 http://www.wales.gov.uk/themesvoluntarysector/content/voluntarysectorscheme/index.htm.

18 Supra note 13, p. 9.

19 Supra note 13, p. 10.

20 See EKAK Implementation Plan, http://www.ngo.ee/4307.

21 Based on input from Kristina Mand, Executive Director of NENO, presentation at the conference on Civil Society Excellence, March 3-5, 2005, Tallinn, Estonia.

22 http://www.um.dk/en/menu/DevelopmentPolicy/DanishNGOs/.

23 Based on input from Douglas Rutzen, President of ICNL, presentation at the conference on Civil Society Excellence, March 3-5, Tallinn, Estonia. See also http://www.un.org/esa/agenda21/natlinfo/wssd/germany.pdf.

24 http://www.thecompact.org.uk/C2B/document_tree/ViewACategory.asp?CategoryID=44. This Code, which is useful for anyone seeking or using public funds, was published in 2000, shortly after the Compact was signed, and revised and republished in 2005.

25 See www.ngo.ee.

26 http://www.thecompact.org.uk/module_images/MG6%20Implementation.pdf.

27 See “Scottish Compact Implementation Strategy,” http://www.scotland.gov.uk/library5/government/scimps-00.asp, and “The Paradox of Compacts: Monitoring the Impact of Compacts,” Home Office Online Report, February 2005, http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/rdsolr0205.pdf.

28 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/library5/government/scimps-00.asp.

29 Idem.

30 Idem.

31 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/library5/government/scimps-00.asp.

32 “Developing Capacity: Next Steps for ChangeUp,” http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/docs4/ChangeUp_16pp_web.pdf.

33 Idem.

34 http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/about-us/organisation/directorates-units/communities-group/acd/acu?version=1.

35 http://www.vsi-isbc.ca/eng/about/index.cfm.

36 Supra notes 2 and 3.

37 http://www.emy.ee/alusdokumendid/concept.html.

38 http://www.emy.ee/eng/alusdokumendid/concept.html.

39 http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/docs4/Compact_61pp_web.pdf, p.7.

40 http://www.thecompact.org.uk/module_images/MG6%20Implementation.pdf.

41 Idem.

42 Based on input from Richard Hebditch, NCVO, presentation at the Conference on Civil Society Excellence, Tallinn, Estonia, March 3-5, 2005.

43 Supra note 2.

44 www.vsi-isbc.ca.

45 www.icnl.org.

46 See, for example, Daimar Liiv, Guidelines for the Preparation of Compacts, International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law, June 2001, http://www.icnl.org/journal/vol3iss4/Guidelinesforcompacts8.htm.

47 http://www.vsi-isbc.ca/eng/relationship/accord.cfm#codes.

48 http://www.vie-associative.gouv.fr.

49 http://www.uzuvrh.hr (in Croatian).

50 http://zaklada.civilnodrustvo.hr/.

51 http://compact.live.poptech.coop/C2B/document_tree/ViewACategory.asp?CategoryID=35.

52 http://www.thecompact.org.uk/C2B/document_tree/ViewACategory.asp?CategoryID=37.

53 http://zaklada.civilnodrustvo.hr/news/.

54 Supra note 2.

55 http://www.thecompact.org.uk/C2B/PressOffice/display.asp?ID=95&Type=2.

56 David Carrington, The Compact – the Challenge of Implementation, April 2002, http://www.davidcarrington.net/articles/docs/ACU-Compact%20Summary.doc.

57 http://www.worldvolunteerweb.org/dynamic/infobase/pdf/2002/FRA020501_charter_state_ngo.pdf.

58 For more, see Bullain, N., Toftisova, R., A Comparative Analysis of European Policies and Practices of NGO-Government Cooperation, International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law, September 2005, http://www.icnl.org/journal/vol7iss4/art_1.htm.

59 Phillips, S., “Striking an Accord,” paper presented to the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association, Toronto, May 29, 2002.

60 http://www.vsi-isbc.ca/eng/about/vsad.cfm.

61 www.scotland.gov.uk/scottishcompact.

62 Supra note 53.

63 HM Treasurer’s Cross-Cutting Review of 2002, supra note 13.

64 Supra note 13.

65 Supra note 13.

66 http://www.thecompact.org.uk/module_images/MG6%20Implementation.pdf.

67 http://zaklada.civilnodrustvo.hr/foundation/mission_vision_goals/.

68 http://www.vsi-isbc.ca/eng/about/cjt_general.cfm.

69 http://www.vsi-isbc.ca/eng/about/cjt_general.cfm.

70 http://www.thecompact.org.uk/module_images/MG6%20Implementation.pdf.

71 http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/rdsolr0205.pdf (2002).

72 Idem.

73 Supra note 48.

74 See www.ngo.ee, http://www.riigikogu.ee/?id=15034, www.emy.ee.

75 http://compact.live.poptech.coop/C2B/document_tree/ViewACategory.asp?CategoryID=55.

76 http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/rdsolr0205.pdf.

77 http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/rdsolr0205.pdf.

78 Idem.

79 Before that, CEDR and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations operated a joint mediation service available to all charities and voluntary organizations.

80 http://www.cedrsolve.com/casestudies/index.php.

81 http://compact.live.poptech.coop/C2B/document_tree/ViewACategory.asp?CategoryID=54.

82 http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/docs4/Compact_61pp_web.pdf, p.8.

83 Based on input from Marie Gauthier, Director of Social Development Canada, Non-profit and Voluntary Sector Affairs Division, presentation at the Conference on Civil Society Excellence, Tallinn, Estonia, March 3-5, 2005.

84 Based on input from Kristina Mand, Director of NENO.

85 However, in these first three possibilities it may be argued that the impact of the introduced legislation should also be evaluated – new laws may not be properly implemented or may not produce the desired effect.

86 The motto of the Canadian Voluntary Sector Initiative is “Partnering for the benefit of Canadians.” See http://www.vsi-isbc.ca.

87 http://www.vsi-isbc.ca/eng/relationship/accord.cfm#codes.

88 http://www.thecompact.org.uk/C2B/document_tree/ViewACategory.asp?CategoryID=34.

89 http://www.thecompact.org.uk/C2B/document_tree/viewAcategory.asp?categoryID=163.

90 http://www.thecompact.org.uk/C2B/pressoffice/display.asp?ID=38&Type=1&Search=true.

91 http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/rdsolr0205.pdf.

92 http://www.icnl.org/PRESS/Articles/2004/20041126.htm.

93 Law on Public Benefit Activity and Volunteerism (2003), Article 5, paragraph 4.

94 Based on input from Zbigniew Wejzman, Support Office for the Movement of Social Initiatives in Warsaw (BORIS), presentation at the Conference on Civil Society Excellence, Tallinn, Estonia, March 3-5, 2005.


96 Idem.

97 http://www.um.dk/Publikationer/Danida/English/DanishDevelopmentCooperation/ AWorldOfDifference/kap03_1.asp.


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