Vilnius, Lithuania-based Lithuanian Free Market Institute (LFMI) was awarded Atlas Network’s prestigious Templeton Freedom Award for its Municipal Performance Index for Freedom and Free Enterprise.

To build the case for policy change at the local government level, in 2011 LFMI designed and launched its Municipal Performance Index to measure and rank the performance of municipal governments in three overarching categories: municipalities for citizens, municipalities for investors, and municipal governance and administration.

LFMI President Zilvinas Silenas said, “The performance index is an easy self-evaluation tool for municipalities. As a byproduct of the index, we have been able to go to various cities and meet mayors, local entrepreneurs, and citizens to discuss issues and solutions related to their schools, taxes or debts. So we not only present our self-evaluation tool, we actually help them to be clearly heard.”

LFMI president Zilvinas Silenas meeting the mayor of Taurage municipality in Lithuania

The methodology comprised 55 indicators and anchored the evaluation criteria in the underlying values of freedom of choice, private ownership and initiative, free enterprise, efficient use of public resources, and transparent and accountable governance. LFMI carried out exhaustive research to develop and compile the municipality index and used it as a basis to frame a plan for needed policy change.

Thus, alongside the municipality rankings, the index yielded a solid, evidence-based framework and benchmark for municipal policy reform that gave a new credibility to free market approaches, including consumer choice, private service delivery, tax cuts, reduction of government regulations and bureaucracy, privatization of municipal assets, and balanced budgets.

Since the launch of the Index, LFMI met with the municipal authorities of all major Lithuanian cities – Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda, Siauliai, Panevezys – and visited numerous smaller cities. During such visits, LFMI met with local authorities, citizens, students, businesses, and the media.

Silenas said, “All these meetings helped to build up relationships both with authorities and local people.”