In July 2003, challenging the traditional neighborhood-based governance dominating China’s local governments, the Shijingshan District Government converted a street-level office at Lugu into a general community administrative center. Currently, this community center oversees a total population numbering nearly one hundred thousand, including immigrant workers and employees in major enterprises, who are further divided into 19 neighborhood committees. Overseeing service provision in this district is the Working Committee, representing the Chinese Communist Party, which plays a leadership role in the Lugu Community Office. Operating alongside the Working Committee is the Community Affairs Administration, representing district government, and the Community Representative Conference, representing civil society organizations. This reorganization of Shijingshan’s street administrative system permits the integration of party leadership, government administration, and community self-governance. All three arms of government can act in a system of checks and balances that introduce citizen participation and approval into the local government process.
By organizing a Lugu Street-level Community Center, the Shijingshan District government encouraged cross-neighborhood governance initiatives. While in the past, administrative communities have been the equivalent of neighborhoods, the Lugu Office’s jurisdiction crosses several neighborhoods. By enlarging the definition of community, the Shijingshang District Government has been able to mobilize more resources to serve the people.
With the Working Committee, the Community Affairs Administration, and the Community Representative Conference operating in tandem, redundant departments have been eliminated, increasing the efficiency of each office. The Center for Community Affairs now holds only four departments: the Departments of Finance, Supervision, Municipal Administration, and the Community, which is responsible for civil affairs, culture, education, sports, sanitation, birth planning, and labor relations. Following the foundation of the Lugu Street Community Center, local government workers were able to delegate many of their duties to civil social organizations operated by concerned citizens invested in the support of their locality. By formalizing the presence of the Community Representative Conference in Shijingshan’s Lugu Street Community Center, innovators encouraged civil society organizations to grow and diversify.
The effects of these government integration reforms on Lugu Street administration have been prominent: administrative and staff costs have been greatly reduced. Each street office had seventeen departments before the innovations began; there are now only four departments in Lugu. While there are approximately 90 civil servants in every street-level office in Beijing, Lufu employs only 39. The reforms have also changed the administrative style of the Center, encouraging democratic decision-making. The Community Representative Conference evaluates government departments and other administrative agencies, acting in a supervisory capacity for local administration. Civil servants must win citizen support and understanding to carry out their agendas. To encourage feedback, the Community Representative Conference maintains regular elections, opinion surveys, and other activities; it is this active solicitation of citizen participation that led, in 2004, to Lugu’s ranking as number one among all Offices at the District Level in a national survey.
Lugu’s reforms have been replicated by eight other street offices in the Shijingshan district, and in other provinces.