Until recently, the organisation ‘R-O Vlaanderen Agency’ was known under a different name and structure. There was little coherence between the head office in Brussels and its five provincial divisions since different software was used, organisation charts differed and tools were not harmonised. Stakeholders perceived the Agency as not very customer friendly, as a verifying authority and as a fairly unreliable partner. Obviously the situation required urgent action.
Hence a project was set up in 2007 and was labelled an ‘optimising project’, to reshape the organisation into a customer-directed and efficient organisation with ‘self-steering’ teams, in which knowledge and integrity are firmly rooted. As an essential tool to achieve this goal, R-O Vlaanderen developed ‘Atrium’ as a mentorship project (learning network). Atrium is a partnership on three different administrative levels: regional, provincial and local level (municipalities) aiming to make them work effectively. Due to the implementation of new regulations in the field of town and country planning, the local authorities are taking up new responsibilities and the Agency will have to formally shift towards a more supporting and guiding role. Atrium is conceived to comply with the new legal framework, and help local administrations with their new tasks. The Flemish Government for example provides financial support for local councils to hire a trained urban planning expert. Atrium is the forum where the Flemish Government and these ‘decentralised’ experts meet, to exchange experiences and learn from each other. The network is also innovative at an ICT level as a common digital platform is used to share information, make appointments, discuss specific topics etc.
Atrium meetings are used in order to exchange best practices, ideas and experiences. By using Atrium meetings, time and money are saved, expertise is exchanged and officials that work on a solitary basis have the opportunity to network. The Atrium ‘3PO’ meetings (standing for a tripartite meeting) is an official meeting between the spatial planning officials of a local authority, RO-Vlaanderen and other parties involved (e.g. architect or designer). The goal is to discuss projects in the early stages of conception. In this way, eventual problems are detected very early, and can generally be remedied more easily. With 3PO, the Agency aims to support local authorities on an individual basis. Through this ‘early detection’ opportunity, a lot of time and money can be saved. Furthermore, kick-off meetings are organised in order to give participants the opportunity to get to know each other, as an informal atmosphere between group members is vital for a good exchange of experiences. It is equally important that participants are able to influence and guide the choice of topics. The kick-off meeting also provides the opportunity to agree upon a memorandum of understanding with regard to the functioning of the Atrium. In addition, each local spatial planning officer has the opportunity to ask the members of the Atrium network for advice. In case they need specific information, they can address themselves to coaches who will try to find the proper expert. A digital platform is used to share information, make appointments, discuss specific topics etc.
|Award category:||partnership working|
|Sector:||Regional policy and development, decentralisation|
|Type of activity:||business process re-engineering|
|Keywords:||Atrium, partnership, learning network, mentorship, town and country planning|
|Short English description:||Atrium is a partnership on three different administrative levels: regional, provincial and local level (municipalities) aiming to make them work effectively|
|Organisation:||Agentschap R-O Vlaanderen|
|Level of government:||regional level|
|Size of organisation:||>100|
|Number of people involved:|
|EU membership:||EU member|