Separation and Better Government: Adopting an Administrative Firewall

Research Paper, Municipal Government, Gerard A. Lucyshyn


REGINA, SK – The Frontier Centre for Public Policy just released a new paper Separation and Better Government: Adopting an Administrative Firewall on October 1, 2017. This paper examines the centralized and decentralized models of local government in Canada, United States, England, Australia and New Zealand. The paper is authored by Gerard A. Lucyshyn, the Vice-President of Research with Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

The overall goal for local governments is to most efficiently deliver local services. In particular, Regina has a diverse city council with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives to bring to the table. However, there is no clear distinction between the roles of elected officials and the city manager in Regina. This report compares and contrasts Regina city council with other local and international municipalities, and offers four new practices to improve efficiency, and to balance costs and benefits of local services.


Executive Summary

The issue of separation, and the establishment of an administrative firewall between elected officials and the head of administration, is very complex and involves answering the underlying question: Do centralized local government models or decentralized local government models best deliver efficient and cost-effective local government services? By comparing and contrasting the model used in the City of Regina and models used in Canada, United States, England, Australia, and New Zealand this paper identifies four best practices that will improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of local government services in the City of Regina. Each model reviewed, a councillor represents the best interests of the citizens from their district.

However, as a member of council, all decisions regarding the type and level of local services are to be made in the best interests of the entire municipality. There is a significant difference between the models regarding where the responsibility rests when determining how delivery, administration, and evaluation of municipal services will occur. Four ideologies exist: the manager, the head of the council, the council, and the councillors. Provincial and state legislatures have the authority to decide which ideology municipalities must use. This leads to an interesting dynamic as the decision on ideology involves consideration of a variety of opinions: residents, councillors, mayors, managers, staff, and provincial/state legislators.

Regardless of the model adopted the tradeoff that is made is between administrative efficiency and effective representation. The City of Regina will improve government efficiency and cost-effectiveness by adopting four best practices: (1) establishing an administrative firewall in the Regina Charter; (2) limit the firewall to the performance of administration; (3) adopt quantifiable performance metrics for the city and city departments; and (4) the council should evaluate and appoint department heads based on the quantifiable performance metrics.

To read the entire meaningful analyses of good governance, click here: FC202_Separation_SP3017_F1