Formation and development of City Managers Association Gujarat (DOC, Eng, 51K)
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Formation and development
of City Managers' Association Gujarat
Level of Activity:
the largest democracy and second most populous country in the
world. Of its 26 states, Gujarat is one of the leading
industrialized states witnessing high economic growth. As a result,
cities are growing at a tremendous rate. Local bodies, with their
limited financial resources and technical expertise, are not able
to keep pace with the increasing demands for infrastructure and
services. Increasing rate of urbanisation, dynamics of economics
and the changing professional culture have added new parameters to
achieve efficiency in urban governance. In this period of
transition, a need was felt to have a forum to support professional
development of urban managers in order to enhance in house capacity
to handle these complex urban issues and improve urban governance.
In the above context, CMAG was formed with the objectives of
information exchange and dissemination, training/ skill upgradation
CMAG has been able to organise various workshops and seminars for training, capacity building and advocacy of urban issues. Some of the major workshops like improving financial resources of urban local bodies through non tax revenues, Citizens charter for urban local bodies, designing of public grievances redressal system, etc. have raised important issues to improve urban governance. Moreover, CMAG has been able to initiate the process of attitudinal change among urban managers and give them the opportunity to explore new dimensions of their profession. Recommendations charted out in the workshops have been instrumental in modifying the policy at state level. Documentation of best practices of urban local bodies of Gujarat and international exchange programs has facilitated effective information exchange and dissemination.
SITUATION BEFORE THE INITIATIVE BEGAN
Urban local bodies are always on the run to cope up with the increasing demands of urbanisation. It was observed that urban local bodies lacked in house capacity to tackle the critical urban issues. There was no forum to support professional development of urban managers.
There is a significant amount of information, knowledge and experience available within urban local bodies, but there is no sharing of successful experiences and no dissemination of information. International information on technologies and best management practices also needs to be accessed.
There was no forum to raise the sensitivity of state and central government towards urban issues. A need was felt to have a forum to address these issues in order to improve urban governance.
ESTABLISHMENT OF PRIORITIES
Facilitating professional development of urban managers was one of the former priorities of the association. Once CMAG was formed, office infrastructure was established and competent urban planning professional(s) were hired. To accomplish its long term objective of improving urban governance, priority was,
Â· to establish networking with state, national and international organisations
Â· to develop CMAG as a forum for documentation and dissemination of relevant information regarding technology, management practices and urban governance.
Â· to conduct training workshops and exchange programs (national and international) for capacity building of urban managers and
Â· to provide a platform for advocacy of relevant issues at higher levels
Â· to use internet to enable CMAG to compile information about local and international expertise and advice local bodies on the adoption of right kind of municipal technologies
Â· to develop and maintain CMAG as a fiscally sound organisation
FORMULATION OF OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGIES
The first objective aims at information exchange and dissemination on urban issues, best city management practices, technologies and cross country management experiences. Activities like Networking, documentation of best practices, building library of urban affairs, publishing newsletter were envisaged to realise the objective.
The second objective of training/skill upgradation is envisaged to be accomplished by workshops, seminars, regular in house brainstorming sessions, use of think tanks and international exchanges.
The third objective of the association is to raise the sensitivity of the state and central governments to critical urban issues by advocacy. Critical issues include total autonomy of municipalities to raise taxes and introduce non-tax revenues, encourage the concept of privatisation and development of professional cadre of city managers.
MOBILISATION OF RESOURCES
USAID through ICMA extended financial support for formation of CMAG. Financial plan, conceived in the inception workshop, included mobilisation of finances from the members of the association. It would be worth mentioning that provision of office space and supplies at no cost by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has reduced the financial expenditure needs of the organisation.
Technical assistance has been provided by public, private, academic and non-governmental sectors. International City/County Managers' Association has been extending support through its publications. CMAG has been able to draw technical expertise of a wide range of urban management professionals from national and international bodies for service on the executive committee, delivery of workshops and development of its newsletter. It is clear that relationship with such firms have done a great deal to advance the technical leadership displayed by CMAG.
Strong support as demonstrated by the state level Urban Development Department allowed CMAG to engage the participation and interest of high level municipal officials in its activities, adding to perspective of legitimacy of the organisation. ICMA has facilitated training and technical exchange programs in the United States for members as well as personnel of the City Managers' Association Gujarat.
A preparatory workshop was organised in May 1997 to discuss the formation of CMA, Gujarat. Senior representatives of Municipal Corporations, Municipalities and Urban Development Authorities of Gujarat, key NGOs, representatives of ICMA and USAID and academic/research institutions of the state participated in the Urban Managers' workshop on forming the City Managers Association in Gujarat. Subsequently, the organisation structure, the executive committee, and its code of conduct/ethics were worked out. The association has been registered under The Societies Act 1860 and The Bombay Public Trust Act 1950.
In order to nurture excellence in local governance and improve the quality of life of the citizens, the Mission of City Managers Association, Gujarat is to build professional management capacity within urban local bodies, and to strengthen and promote urban local bodies as centres of opportunity, leadership and governance.
The association faced certain problems in its formative stages. Firstly, the environment was not conducive for formation of such a body. Idea of Municipal officials being urban management professionals was far from general acceptance. In the process, the interests of the urban bodies became predominant at the expense of the need to establish a broad based professional body.
Membership was restrictive from institutions, NGOs, professional organisations, etc. From among the local bodies, membership was limited to senior officials; thus middle level officials were left out. Elected wing were supposed to be included as patrons, but, this could not be operationalised, which resulted in the elected members losing interest and delayed renewal of their membership. Restrictive membership base had a direct bearing on the administrative and financial resources of the association. Added to it, no strategic planning was done for the first two years.
Many of the problems have been resolved. Associate membership is opened for professionals, NGOs, etc. Membership rules have been amended to widen the base and encourage wider participation from within the local bodies. Strategic planning workshop was conducted for CMAG in December 1999. Retrospection in strategic planning exercise refined the priorities and set the house in order from all angles. Technical support for organisational strengthening and financial sustainability has been made possible with support of ICMA and USAID. Opportunities are being created to increase participation of the Elected wing. Still, the problems of adequate professional staff and office space remain to be solved.
CMAG has been able to orient the municipal officials towards the professional culture in the field of urban management through national and international exposure. Being a part of ICMA family, CMAG has been able to establish global networking with other affiliate countries.
Documentation of best Practices has provided a base for facilitating the exchange of expertise between urban local bodies. This concept has evolved into a program with partial funding from ICMA and USAID. This will bring about peer-to-peer learning in urban local governance.
CMAG has successfully conducted Advocacy, administrative reform and technical workshops. A memorandum has been submitted to the Government of Gujarat requesting autonomy to urban local bodies to raise financial resources from non-tax revenues like user charges, impact fees and municipal asset management. Subsequently, the concept of impact fees through identification of Special Development Districts has been introduced in the development plans. As a result of citizens charter workshop, a model charter was prepared and circulated to all the urban local bodies so as to prepare the local charter.
CMAG, realising the stress levels of urban managers, organised training in stress management.
City managers within Gujarat have started to develop a sense of community with each other, due to which exchange of information and ideas has also substantially increased at an informal level outside of CMAG structured activities.
Questionnaire survey of members was used as an indicator in the strategic planning workshop for CMAG and the feedback was accounted in planning the strategies for a period of 1, 3 and 10 years. Other forms of indicators are feedback in the workshop sessions and constant interaction with the members via phone, fax and e-mail.
Subscription fee is being periodically paid by all the members enabling CMAG to carry out its activities. Based on membership feedback, the subscription fee was reduced in the third year. Broadening of membership base and lowering of fees has added new members and also increased the rate of membership renewal.
CMAG is able to mobilise technical & financial resources form various national and international agencies. CMAG has signed a memorandum with National Institute of Urban Affairs for conducting workshops. CMAG has also been able to gather support from international agencies for organisational strengthening and for its best practice transferability project. Being affiliated to ICMA, CMAG has gained ready access to approximately 25 resource groups that ICMA is affiliated within the US and abroad. As part of affiliate agreement ICMA and CMAG have instituted the manager exchange program, a program which should run for many years. The staff's use of resources from both within India and from overseas demonstrates CMAG's ability to balance cutting edge technology with local applicability.
CMAG has cultivated congenial relationship with public bodies like Urban Development Department, Directorate of Municipalities, Ahmedabad Electricity Company, National Institute of Urban Affairs, Gujarat Municipal Finance Board; private bodies such as Environmental Planning Collaborative, Godrej, ORG, Ahmedabad Management Association, as well as academic institutions like Center for Environmental Planning and Technology, Indian Institute of Management and also NGO's like Centre for Environmental Education, St. Xaviers Social Science Society, Awaj, Self Employed Womens Association, which will bridge gap between public private & the society.
As a result of endeavors by CMAG, willingness to learn together irrespective of hierarchy has increased which has brought about positive attitudinal change among senior municipal officials.
Today, urban mangers require professional development training. Local bodies need to be upgraded in the spheres of technological know how, managerial skills, leadership and professional management capacity. Urban managers' forum such as CMAG can facilitate all this.
Clearly defined goals and objectives have far reaching implications on the consistent functioning of the association. Executive committee leadership is important in the growth of organization.
It was realised that selection of competent & committed individuals to run the association is important. It enables the association to derive enthusiasm and inspiration from within.
Strong relationship with technical resource groups such as Environmental Planning Collaborative, Center for Environmental Planning and Technology and ICMA has benefited CMAG considerably. The relationship with ICMA has served as a role model for CMAG to follow, as well has contributed an appearance of legitimacy and stability which would have taken much more time for CMAG to develop independently. Networking of public with the private & the civil society - NGOs, CBOs, Academia etc. have given buoyancy to the association.
CMAG It was observed that dissemination of information of information in local languages is much more effective & reaches the user easily.
It was realised that Strategic Planning at the inception stage would have given clarity & transparency to the organisational structure. In the present context, it is observed that CMAG requires greater financial management in running the organisation. Clear cost accounting principles must be utilised to develop annual budget, which corresponds to the organisation's plan for the year.
Additional opportunities for leveraging state-level policies should be identified. The true advantage of a municipal association is its ability to speak as the unified voice for municipalities. As such, there is a great deal of influence that may be exercised with state- and national-level policy makers.
City Managers' Association Gujarat has already initiated the process of transferability of such associations in other states of the country. In this context, the present association of CMAG will assume the role of a national body and would provide an umbrella to such associations throughout the country. The association would also be responsible for coordinating inter state as well as intra state activities.
CMAG and ICMA with financial support from USAID have identified four other states for transferability of City managers' association (CMA) with similar objectives, though; there will be variations in operationalising CMA in these states. The following steps are recommended in the inception stage,
Â§ Purpose of the organisation should be clear right from the beginning. CMAG benefited a great deal from its early consensus on the purpose of the organization, and the development of its three priority areas.
Â§ Membership structure should be worked upon in the formative stages. CMAG could not anticipated the great demand to expand membership to include more non-municipal employees. By surveying the context early on and considering inputs from all professionals in the urban management field, a more informed decision can be made regarding the membership base.
Â§ Engage the support of state-level representatives. The involvement of the Urban Development Department Secretary clearly helped CMAG gain the support of municipalities from within the state.
Â§ Engage the support of a wide-range of technical experts. Invariably, the public, private, academic, and non-governmental sectors each have different contributions to make to technical discussions on urban issues. To the extent possible, this diversity of opinions should be facilitated and encouraged.
Â§ Strategic planning should be accomplished in the formative stage. Strategic planning would set the house in order in the initial stage and ensure financial sustainability of the organisation.
1 13th & 14th May 1997 Inception of CMAG in Urban Managers' Workshop followed by registration of CMAG under Societies Act 1860 and The Bombay Public Trust Act 1950.
2 19th December 1997 First Advocacy workshop on improving financial resources through non tax revenues
3 April 1998 Publication of first news letter, "CMAG News"
4 1st Apr.-30th Sep. 1999 Documentation of Best Practices of Gujarat cities
5 4th December 1999 Strategic Planning workshop for CMAG
of Workshops, Exchange program and Executive Committee
1. CMAG Brochure
2. CMAG code of Ethics
3. "Best Practices Catalogue", City Managers' Association Gujarat, September 1999
4. "Improving the Financial Resources of Urban Local Bodies", CMAG workshop series 1, proceedings, Report prepared by Environmental Planning Collaborative, Ahmedabad, 19th December 1997
5. "Citizens charter for Urban Local Bodies of Gujarat", Draft prepared during workshop on Citizens charter, July 1998
6. "Designing Public Grievance Redressal System for Urban Local Bodies", English version downloaded from the web site : www.servicefirst.gov.uk and translated into Gujarati, City Managers' Association Gujarat,
7. CMAG News, No.3, May 1999, City Managers' Association Gujarat, English version and Gujarati version
8. "CMAG submits memorandum to empower local bodies", The times of India, Ahmedabad Edition, 21st December 1997
9. "Urban planner stresses need for compact cities", The times of India, Ahmedabad edition, 17th September 1998
10. "A telling tale of two cities", The times of India, Ahmedabad Edition, 9th February 2000
Manvita Baradi, Mr. Pinakin Dikshit
City Managers' Association Gujarat,
Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation,
West Zone Office,
Usmanpura Cross Road,
Ahmedabad, - 380 013.
Tel.: 91-79-7551595 (Direct)
Fax: 91-79-7551595 (Direct)
Type of Organization: Professional Association
(same as above)
Managers' Association Gujarat (CMAG)
Mr. Pinakin Dikshit, Ms. Manvita Baradi
Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, West Zone Office
Usmanpura Cross Road
Type of Organization: Professional Association
Type of Partner Support: Tech., Fin., Admin. Support
International City/County Management Association (ICMA)
Ms. Deborah Kimble, Mr. Clay Wirt
777 North Capital Street NE
Washington DC 20002-4201.
Type of Organization: Professional Association
Type of Partner Support: Technical Support
United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Mr. James Stein, Ms. Danielle Arigoni
International Agency, American Embassy
New Delhi - 110 021.
Type of Organization: International Agency (Bilateral)
Type of Partner Support: Financial Support