|PHASE 1: Initiating cooperation|
|PHASE 2: Establishing cooperation|
| PHASE 3: Implementing IMC
|PHASE 4: Evaluating IMC|
The implementation of a private law contract can usually be initiated rapidly. Implementing a public law agreement may require the endorsement of the relevant central or regional government authority. The creation of a private law legal entity can take place easily at any time. As regards public entities, it may be preferable to create them at the beginning of a new fiscal year, which is more convenient for the preparation of a budget, the allocation of state subsidies or the introduction of taxes, if appropriate. In some IMC legislation, this is in fact the only possibility.
If the establishment of an IMC council is envisaged, the municipal councils should nominate their delegates to the council before the official starting date of the IMC entity. Among the first tasks of the IMC council is to approve its statutes and to elect the president of the IMC institution, the vice president(s) and other officials.
The selection of staff to manage the IMC activities is vital. Ideally, the people chosen should have relevant skills and the ability to communicate and build trust among the partners. The recruitment of such staff may take time. If the IMC tasks are fulfilled by the employees of one of the municipalities, the transition can be very short. But even here, the partner municipalities must agree on how the arrangement will practically work and on how the costs will be shared. Time may also be needed to harmonize existing regulations, agree on common procedures, find and equip offices for the IMC administration, conceive and discuss projects, carry out technical studies or elaborate the financial planning.
Box 23: The need for clear and fair management arrangements
Agree on a management arrangement and establish a chain of authority. Outline what needs to be done in order to achieve the listed objectives. This involves identifying and recording all of the tasks, sub-tasks and other activities that must be carried out in order to fulfill the terms of the anticipated partnership, and who will be responsible for each. It is important that each partner understands their decision-making authority and that roles and responsibilities are assigned on the basis of knowledge and know-how (and not according to financial capacity or power).
The roles and responsibilities should be assigned equitably among the partners so that no one partner is, or appears to be, able to exercise control over the others. Specify the areas of autonomy and interdependence for each. This will include defining the limits of what each partner can do without the approval or knowledge of the other partners. A conscious effort will be required for mutual consultation on issues that require the agreement of all partners, such as on budget, timetable and the replacement of key personnel.
Determine the procedures for decision making. In multi-partner partnerships, it is even more important to decide in advance how decisions are to be made – by consensus, majority vote, open or secret balloting, or by another manner. Sometimes, there are different decision-making processes for different kinds of questions. For example, do financial decisions need to go back to each partner for approval? In the case of disagreement or conflict between the individual partners, it is beneficial to provide for a conciliation or conflict resolution process.
Communications are essential in any working relationship. Identify the different means that will be used for exchanging and disseminating information. A process should be established that ensures that all of the partners have prompt, efficient means of communicating among themselves. Additionally, each of the partners should have mechanisms established within their own organizations to keep decision makers internally informed of issues or developments that can have an impact on the partnership.
Determine the rights of ownership, use, distribution and visibility of any technology or services that may be delivered by means of the partnership. Depending on the type of product or service that will result from the partnership, some consideration will need to be given to who will retain ownership of each particular asset; these ownership issues should be clearly defined in the formal agreement.
Specify the conditions governing the admission or withdrawal of a partner. The procedure to be followed when a potential new partner is admitted to the arrangement or the appropriate compensation to be paid if one of the partners withdraws should be defined in the agreement so that all stakeholders are aware of the arrangements.
Source: Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities (2002)
It may take a few months before results from the IMC are visible to the population. This is why it is important to keep citizens informed on the process of establishment of the institution and the conditions for the operation of the IMC. Also, once an IMC operation has started, it will not necessarily bring immediate benefits. The building up of knowledge, skills and organizational routines of IMC staff may also require time; several years may elapse before IMC produces the expected cost savings and/or better quality services.
Box 24: How to maintain a cooperative spirit
A positive, supportive attitude toward cooperation is often a key to success.