When Andrius Kubilius became prime minister of Lithuania in November 1999, he faced dual crises. Russia’s economic crash a year earlier had thrown Lithuania’s economy into a tailspin, and the government was in danger of losing its ability to borrow on international financial markets after running a large deficit the previous year. Furthermore, the European Commission had informed Lithuania that the country was falling short in its efforts to join the European Union (EU)—a key element in the Baltic state’s economic and political future. Kubilius’ government devised a plan to manage those crises, but systemic weaknesses in the center of government made it difficult to execute the agenda. The government was unable to ensure that line ministries set aside pet projects, was focused on supporting the goal of EU accession, and was unable to channel the government’s diminished resources to the most important projects. To address these challenges, Kubilius instructed State Chancellor Petras Auštrevi?ius and Government Secretary Algirdas Šemeta to reform the policy planning process to focus ministries on EU accession and other strategic goals, and to synchronize the budget and policy planning processes so that government spending flowed more reliably to where it was most needed. With less than a year until elections that were widely expected to bring in new leadership, Auštrevi?ius and Šemeta implemented reforms that put Lithuania back on track in negotiations to join the EU and back on its feet financially. Successive governments led by Lithuania’s other major political parties helped sustain and institutionalize the early gains.
Jonathan Friedman drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Vilnius, Lithuania, during January and February 2012. Case published May 2012. A separate case study, "Improving the Quality of Decision Making: Fighting Reform Fatigue in Lithuania, 2006-2012," deals with later efforts to engage ministries in strengthening strategic planning.
Associated Interview(s): Gord Evans, Kestutis Rekerta
center of government
Centers of Government
Aligning policy and budget
Improving cabinet efficiency
Country of Reform