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The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) and the Network of Institutes and Schools of Public Administration in Central and Eastern Europe (NISPAcee), signed in May of 2011 at the NISPAcee Annual Conference in Varna, Bulgaria, was established to promote and strengthen ties between these regions in the field of public administration. This relationship between ASPA and NISPAcee is a natural extension of the goals of both organizations, focusing on supporting professional preparation, research, and collaboration in public service. The NISPAcee region is comprised of 29 countries in Central and Eastern Europe, the West Balkans, Central Asia, and the Caucasus.
The Secretariat for the ASPA-NISPAcee MOU was assigned to the Department of Health Care and Public Administration at Long Island University – Post in March of 2012. A number of objectives were established for the newly assigned Secretariat, including the establishment of a Secretariat website, creation of an expert board of advisors to assist with the process of establishing and maintaining connections, and investigation of other pathways for scholarly exchange. A number of projects related to the MOU were initiated in 2012, and will continue to take shape in 2013.
Secretariat Website: A key objective of the Secretariat is to facilitate the exchange of information through the transfer of scholarly publications, white papers, conference information, and other pertinent professional and academic documents. The creation of a Secretariat website, currently in development, is an essential first step in the process of aggregating information of interest for scholars from both the U.S. and NISPAcee regional countries. Current information on national, regional, and topic-specific conferences will be included to encourage attendance and promote dialogue. The website will also serve as a means of disseminating information on opportunities for collaborative scholarly work, aiming to become a central repository of information for US scholars looking to engage in research in the NISPAcee region, and for scholars in the area to find U.S. partners for comparative research. Moving from the academic to the practical, the website will provide current information of interest regarding the provision of public service in NISPAcee regional countries, targeting specific content that may spur comparative research. In addition to creation of the website, an accompanying listserv of scholars in both the U.S. and the NISPAcee region will be established to facilitate rapid communication with a broader audience. More information on both of these resources will be made available to members of both organizations in the coming months.
Scholar Exchange: A second project intended to foster closer professional linkages between scholars in the United States and NISPAcee member countries is to encourage attendance at the ASPA and NISPAcee annual conferences. Efforts are currently underway to secure funding for these activities. These fundraising efforts are occurring in a focused manner, targeting associations in the U.S. with specific ties to a NISPAcee region country, and in a broader sense, aimed at securing funding that is dedicated to the broader regions. Promoting the creation and maintenance of connections that extend from the virtual to the personal will undoubtedly increase the chances that collaborative activities will result in meaningful contributions to research and practice. ASPA and NISPAcee leaders have already started this process by establishing panels at their respective conferences to highlight work focused on the regions. Scholars representing both organizations presented at dedicated panels at ASPA 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and at the NISPAcee conference in Ohrid, Macedonia. These panels will continue in 2013 in New Orleans, and at the 21st NISPAcee Annual Conference in Belgrade, Serbia.
Board of Advisors: The list of countries comprising the NISPAcee region is substantial, and an objective of the Secretariat is to build connections with scholars and practitioners in these individual member countries. To begin that process, a voluntary advisory group has been created to provide country-specific expertise. The individuals forming this group have had substantial experience living or working in one or more NISPAcee regional countries. Many are natives of the region currently studying public administration or public policy in the U.S., are Americans currently living abroad in the region, or have substantial previous experience living in a NISPAcee member country. To date, eight individuals have been identified representing Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, and Ukraine. The advisory board will continue to grow in coming months as projects move forward, and interested individuals with expertise in NISPAcee countries are encourage to contact the Secretariat coordinator for more information on becoming a part of this effort.
Continuing dialogue and collaborative work by ASPA and NISPAcee will be mutually beneficial, and the MOU Secretariat will continue to provide support for these efforts. ASPA members who are interested in the NISPAcee region and would like to learn more about the Secretariat’s activities are encouraged to contact the MOU coordinator.
ASPA member Alex Henderson is the coordinator for the ASPA-NISPAcee MOU secretariat and assistant professor of Health Care and Public Administration at Long Island University – Post. Email: [email protected]