Slovakia became an independent state in January 1993, following the division of the former Czechoslovakia into the Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic. Shortly thereafter, ICMA began implementing the Training in Municipal Management and Governance program (1995-1998).
The objectives of the program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, were to improve the governance skills of elected and appointed officials and to develop a comprehensive municipal in-service training capacity. In order to do this, ICMA worked with the Association of Towns and Communities of Slovakia (ZMOS), the largest organization of municipalities in the country.
ZMOS was a leading partner of the national government in strengthening local government structures and reforming public administration policy. ICMA helped ZMOS and its local partners establish a sustainable information database on local government issues. It did this by developing a variety of training manuals and advocacy tools focused on municipal finance and budgeting, general management, total quality maintenance (for public works), environmental management, and citizen participation.
A key strategy of the program was train-the-trainer sessions to ensure that local government employees could be reached after the program ended. The program trained and certified more than 160 individuals, who in turn trained more than 1,000 local officials. The result was a sustainable network of local government trainers and regional training centers. The financial management training series was later adapted and used in Kazakhstan, Montenegro, Romania, Indonesia, and other countries.
Following local elections in 1998, ICMA organized a “Good Day Local Government” (GDLG) project, the first of its kind in the region, to celebrate and promote the importance of local governments as a central pillar of democratic governance. ICMA conducted workshops on communications, citizen outreach, and media relations for newly elected officials. It also developed and distributed more than 40,000 “quick guides” for local elected officials in all 2,867 municipalities together with a “mayor’s survival kit” for each mayor in the country.