Creating the First Governance Innovation Lab in Kosovo

Mar 5, 2018

The recent signature of a MoU between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Kosovo and the University for Business and Technology (UBT), as well as a MoU between the UBT and the Resilience and Sustainable Development Programme (RSDP) in the Center for Industrial Sustainability at the Cambridge University, marked the first step towards the creation of Kosovo’s first Governance Innovation Lab.

This very first Governance Innovation Lab will focus on designing new locally relevant approaches and procedures for Performance Audit in Kosovo, which will be put into practice by auditors of the Kosovo National Audit Office (KNAO).

Starting with the KNAO’s interest on Performance Audit

The idea of the Governance Innovation Lab in Kosovo burgeoned with the KNAO’s interest in innovative approaches to performance audit, with the primary goal of training and up-skilling auditors in Kosovo, in accordance with international standards.

Performance auditing distinguishes itself from traditional financial auditing since it focuses on assessing, and eventually improving an entity’s efficient and effective use of public resources.

Performance audit has become key to evaluate the performance of an organization’s actions and is now considered as an essential part of a balanced audit portfolio. Indeed, over the last years, the public sector has been under pressure to be more accountable and to demonstrate continuous efforts in optimizing organizational provisions.

However, despite its growing use, skilled and trained performance auditors are lacking in Kosovo. Therefore, the need to introduce contextually relevant trainings is pressing. This would allow for a more efficient use of public resources and hold public managers to greater accountability.

Academia as a key player in the Governance Innovation Lab

This innovation lab will allow for the creation of new partnerships between academia, the public sector and UNDP.

We believe that innovation is most effective when it includes a greater diversity of skills, but first and foremost, when adapted to the context in which it is being applied. Indeed, this lab was conceived, from the beginning, as a space that will promote the agency of the public sector and connect them to relevant and experienced stakeholders that will support them in developing tailored solutions.

To this end, UBT, the largest university in Kosovo, has partnered with the RSDP in the Center of Industrial Sustainability at the Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom to develop local capacity in supporting Kosovo's sustainable development. The RSDP programme developed leading methods, socio-economic design studio and research hub to co-create social-system frameworks to improve performance, confidence and effectiveness in public, private and civil societies.  

The Governance Innovation Lab brought a group of multidisciplinary Cambridge academics to develop Kosovo specific solutions, which is now being adopted by the UBT for long-term implementation. Academics from both UBT and the University of Cambridge will join to support the national transformation. 

In addition, UNDP has accumulated its experiences on experimenting innovation labs in the world. In the region, Armenia’s Kolba lab is a good example of UNDP’s works, considering the Kolba lab tries to provide support to the growth of a culture of innovation within government, through the creation of an open governance centre.

UNDP Kosovo, based on the experiences of implementing innovative initiatives engaging Kosovo citizens to improve the conditions of illegal dumping, corruption, and response to emergency situations through human-centered design, hackathon, and the utilization of data as evidence, can draw on its own expertise to strengthen the lab’s methodology and help partners to learn and develop.

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