Omstilling og utvikling i norske kommuner : mye skrik og lite ull?
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- Research Reports 
Local authorities in Norway countries face a number of challenges. Municipalities are often seen as old-fashioned and inefficient. Recent exposures of corruption have damaged their reputation further. Local government is not perceived as an attractive place of work. This is serious because shares of elderly will increase significantly from 2010, particularly in peripheral districts. Demographics means that local government will need more employees to meet the increasing demand for health care services and old-age care. Serious quality problems have been observed in education and old-age care. At the same time, a better-educated public wants better information, more influence and better quality public services. Finally, many observers claim that the local democracy is in trouble. Participation in local elections and political parties is declining, and elected representatives believe they have limited scope for pursuing their political agendas. This report addresses governance reforms initiated by local governments during the last 10-15 years. Initiatives include reforms of local democracy and relations to citizenry, new procedures for internal governance, attempts to improve user satisfaction, use of quasi-markets and competitive tendering, and the establishment of inter-municipal companies to exploit economies of scale. The crux of the analysis is whether these initiatives have improved performance. The report reviews a large number of government commission reports, consultancy evaluations and research papers. We suggest that concerns about the alleged decline of local democracy have been exaggerated. Internal governance procedures have been developed, but it is hard to see significant improvements in actual performance. Relations with service users have not changed much, and the use of competitive tendering is limited to some infrastructure services. The use of intermunicipal companies has increased a lot, but cost efficiency and political control appear to suffer from dispersed ownership.