This program is a winner of the "Local Government with Best Sense of Responsibility Award."
The Qingyuan County Government initiated a campaign for "Skill Building of Cadres in Town Government" in June 2004. Its goal was to enhance the technical ability of cadres* at the township level to ensure they could: meet the needs of residents for public services, improve economic development, and encourage harmonious societies.** As the focus of cadres shifted from enforcement of regulations to providing services, a new positive relationship developed between the cadres and local farmers. The innovation included:
1. Enhancing the knowledge and skills of cadres through training. The project began by determining the kinds of skills local farmers believed cadres should have. Local town governments and the county authority conducted surveys that showed farmers thought it important that cadres know how to develop the economy, safeguard social stability, and cultivate good relations with citizens. These skills were added to the skills required of cadres to carry out in their specific jobs. In addition, they are now required to develop skills necessary for the area's main industries and they can also choose one or two skills for self-development.
2. Assessing performance. Feedback from farmers is now heavily weighted in the evaluations of cadres and cadres must pass examinations to receive skill certification. Information about township cadres including names, positions, responsibilities, skills, and telephone numbers are posted on walls in local villages so that farmers can easily contact them for assistance.
3. Restructuring of town governments based on needs assessments. Qingyuan used surveys to clarify the town government functions important to local farmers. The farmers chose promoting economic development, improving social affairs, providing public services, sustaining social stability, and strengthening the capacity of local party branches. Based on this feedback, the local authority restructured governmental agencies in 20 towns. Unnecessary agencies were abolished and agencies were restructured to improve administrative efficiency. As agencies were downsized, cadres were required to compete for existing posts. The local authority also updated personnel management procedures and a few cadres with the best skills in administration, technology, and problem-solving were promoted to higher positions.
3. Developing public service centers. To improve accessibility to local farmers, public services available formerly available through township governments were gathered together in public service centers. In addition, 182 cadres from county governments were assigned to villages to provide assistance in areas such as village governance, enterprise management, stability maintenance, technological information, and financial management. By July 2006, village centers for public service delivery were established in 345 villages. On Tuesdays, cadres receive requests for public services at these centers. Services include policy explanation, technological assistance, market information, and even entertainment.
With an annual growth of 9.1 percent, the per capita income of local villages jumped from 2910 Yuan in 2004 to 3459 Yuan in 2006. In addition, social conflicts were effectively contained. Because of the economic and social benefits of this project, reformers are in the process of determining how to institutionalize the reform across Qingyuan County. They are also looking for methods to foster development of rural specialized cooperatives under the backdrop of town government restructuring.
*Cadres: In China are the rough equivalent of civil servants in other countries. The term cadre refers to a public official holding a responsible or managerial position, usually full time, in party and government. A cadre may or may not be a member of the CCP, although a person in a sensitive position would almost certainly be a party member. Source: U.S. Library of Congress http://countrystudies.us/china/113.htm
**Harmonious Society: The current leadership (in China) is committed to generating greater economic development in the interior and providing more services to those who do not live in China's coastal areas, goals that form the core of President Hu's concepts of a "harmonious society." http://www.state.gov