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Meeting of the WeBER National Working Group for Public Administration Reform in Serbia was held

By |2020-07-28T12:59:08+02:0023/07/ 2020|News|

On Thursday, 16 July 2020, the fifth meeting of the WeBER National Working Group (NWG) for Public Administration Reform (PAR) in Serbia was held on the Zoom platform. This is the first meeting of the NWG for PAR in Serbia within the new WeBER2.0 project. The upcoming scheme of small grants facility for civil society organisations was discussed at this event, and researchers from the European Policy Centre (CEP) from Serbia presented the practice of citizens engagement through consultations and the methods of European consultations with citizens.

The members of the NWG were also introduced to the Loomio discussion platform, through which the participants of the meeting had an opportunity to discuss accommodation of the work on sectoral PAR mainstreaming in Serbia and the update of the PAR Resource Centre with new publications, as well as the upcoming call for new members of the NWGs. The plan is to use this platform for further consultations with members of each WeBER national working group in the Western Balkans.

 

Workshop on citizen engagement through consultations

2020-08-24T15:30:43+02:0026/06/ 2020|News|

In cooperation with the Brussels-based think tank the European Policy Centre – EPC, the Think for Europe Network organised a two-day training for civil society representatives and civil servants on May 28-29. More than 30 people from across the Western Balkans participated in a two-day online training session in which Corina Stratulat, a Senior policy analyst at EPC, and Paul Butcher, a Policy analyst at EPC, introduced participants to the basics of citizen engagement with the regulatory process, principles and standards for organising consultations, as well as various consultation methods.

They also presented case studies from the various European countries and institutions in order to draw lessons for organising consultations with citizens. Among other examples, the case of the European Commission’s experience in this area, the example of France, in which consultations with citizens are driven by CSOs and ordinary citizens with government support (including financial), the case of the Netherlands, as well as Romania, where CSOs observe but are not involved in the organisation or design of consultations, were presented at this event.

At this event, participants also discussed how to adjust consultations to the new circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, switching to an online environment when organising consultations.

The PowerPoint presentation presented to the participants of this event can be downloaded here.

The EPC has previously actively addressed this topic in the report European Citizen Consultation that can be downloaded here, and the discussion paper Citizens expect: Lessons from the European Citizens’ Consultations can be download here.

Governments in the WB still do not provide adequate information on their achievements

By |2020-08-12T14:56:17+02:0013/05/ 2020|News|

In the policy development area, PAR Monitor 2019/2020 starts by focusing on the information available to citizens on governmental performance. Evidence shows that citizens of the Western Balkan countries, with the exception of BiH and to a lesser extent North Macedonia, do not have access to basic information about the work of their governments; the level of detail provided in annual governmental work reports is generally substandard to allow proper public scrutiny. Even weaker practices are shown in how understandable and result-oriented these reports are, as well as how regularly the public is informed on the implementation of central planning documents.

This PAR Monitor cycle enables the comparison of trends against the baseline results of the PAR Monitor for 2017/2018 and indicates slight progress at best in the WB generally. Though governments are a bit more diligent in reporting on their work and on the implementation of central planning documents, there has been little change in all aspects of reporting that concern the quality of data – they do not publish open or gender segregated data and performance information on annual results is scarce, for instance, which almost mirrors the baseline PAR Monitor results.

Despite this general picture, there are nevertheless some developments that have brought about notable changes in specific countries in the period between the two monitoring exercises. For example, Kosovo, which scored the best of all countries considered last time, has scored only one point in this round due to the problems in the formation of its government and the acting government’s failure to produce the annual report.

On the other hand, the largest positive developments were recorded in North Macedonia, improving from a very low score in the last round. In this cycle, it assumed the runner-up position of all countries considered due to the settling in of a new government after a period of political unrest, publishing regularly of annual reports and , despite scoring zero points last round with no information published.

Apart from these more noteworthy changes, BiH, Serbia, and Montenegro have all recorded slight progress, though nothing too drastic. BiH has improved in terms of its government’s inclusion of gender-segregated data in the information issued about its activities. Serbia’s complete absence of regularity in its government’s publishing of reports on its work plan online has continued, though reporting on central planning documents has improved somewhat. The only notable improvement in Montenegro is regarding the regularity of its government’s annual reporting on its work.

Finally, there has been no change in Albania when it comes to how the government reports on its work. With governmental annual reports and information on the implementation of government-wide plans and strategies largely absent, Albania is at the lower end of regional scale once again.

 

Proactive informing from public authorities is still at a low level in the Western Balkans

By |2020-08-12T13:11:39+02:0011/05/ 2020|News|

Worrying trends in the limited proactive information made available to citizens of the Western Balkans by their governments, indicated in the baseline PAR Monitor 2017/2018, have shown little change. Although some online information is easily accessible in most of the countries included, limited open data practices and transparency in annual reporting and budgets, as well as limited citizen-friendliness in the presentation of information, are still common.

The same as in the PAR Monitor 2017/2018, the information published by national authorities was assessed on a sample of seven institutions and against same key criteria which enables comparison of results over time: completeness of information, whether available information was up-to-date, the accessibility of information, and the citizen-friendliness of its presentation. Overall, countries scored fewer points for completeness of the information and if available information is updated – 33% of all points compared to 38% in the first monitoring cycle.


Some progress though is notable regarding accessibility and citizen friendliness in presenting information as compared – out of the total available points for accessibility and citizen friendliness, countries of the region managed to win 26% as compared to 17% in the baseline PAR Monitor.


Sample authorities generally fare better at providing more basic content, such as in providing information on scopes of work, contact information, organisational charts, and information on policy documents and legal acts. In almost all countries, however, there is a lack of transparent information as in the previous monitoring on budgets, annual reporting, but also on policy papers and analyses produced by authorities. Although with some improvements, particularly worrisome was the lack of information on cooperation with civil society and other external stakeholders. Despite the emergence of open data portals in the region, publishing of open datasets is still a major challenge.

In terms of individual country rankings, the only notable decline in results is for Albania, with sample authorities for the current PAR Monitor being significantly less proactive than those selected for the previous cycle. At the same time, the lack of proactive publishing of budgetary information come into prominence this time around.

Serbia is still among the top scorers but with slightly poorer results, bringing to light uneven practice of information provision by different authorities within the administration. The lack of annual reporting still represents one of the key issues, on the other hand, it is the only country in the region with basic budget information readily available online.

Sample authorities in BiH have a more user-oriented and coherent webpages, which is why BiH again ranks higher than many. Key weaknesses still relate to the lack of available budgetary information as well as limited information on policy papers, studies, and analyses.

In North Macedonia, the government has taken important steps toward remedying the past limitations in transparency and accountability, which have been translated into concrete measures, and resulted in slightly better scoring. There is still a lack of proactive publishing of budget information and annual reports by administration bodies, and information about cooperation with civil society and other external stakeholders is missing.

Comparing both monitoring cycles, results for Kosovo remain the same, with sample institutions once again being notably negligent when it comes to publishing budgetary information and annual reports – a common characteristic among many WB countries. It should be noted that during the monitoring period, Kosovo government was undergoing major structural changes, with the decreased number of ministries as the result (from 21 to 15) and major restructuring in terms of ministries’ jurisdiction.

Finally, this years’ monitoring in Montenegro have somewhat increased the country’s score, however with no major steps forward. This time, sample authorities were found to be provide less complete and less up-to-date information on scopes of work, but better at presenting their organisational structures.

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Official announcement: WeBER 2.0 has begun!

By |2020-01-13T15:28:53+01:0013/01/ 2020|News|

Six organisations from the Western Balkans, members of the Think for Europe – TEN Network (European Policy Centre – CEP Belgrade, Institute for Democracy and Mediation – IDM Tirana, Insititute Alternative – IA Podgorica, Foreign Policy Initiative – FPI Sarajevo, Group for Legal and Political Studies – GLPS Pristina, European Policy Institute – EPI Skopje) coordinated by the European Policy Centre – CEP Belgrade, in partnership with the European Policy Centre – EPC from Brussels, and with financial support from the European Commission, will continue their work with a goal to further empower civil society organisations in the Western Balkans to engage in the design and implementation of public administration reform in line with the requirements in the EU accession process.

Guided by the SIGMA Principles, WeBER has pioneered an evidence-based civil society approach to monitoring the governments’ progress in PAR based on EU requirements. It has also built bottom-up reform demand by creating a regional WeBER Platform for PAR dialogue and by empowering CSOs through capacity building and consultation events and meetings. This has laid down foundations for the continuous involvement of civil society in PAR, relying on the regional approach and regionally comparable WeBER monitoring results.

Under the new name, Western Balkan Civil Society Empowerment for a Reformed Public Administration, the WeBER 2.0 design relies on the results of WeBER and published PAR Monitor reports. WeBER 2.0 continues the intervention logic developed and proven effective in the first project, namely that the creation of regional and local pressure and demand for PAR compliant with EU requirements/principles is the best (and perhaps only) way to ensure long-term effectiveness of the EU’s conditionality in this area and keep these reforms on track even beyond the point of achievement of EU membership by the WB countries.

The impact that WeBER 2.0 intends to create is an empowered civil society, armed with knowledge, skills and tools to monitor PAR and hold their national and local governments to account for the quality of policies they develop, services they provide and the overall management of the state and local governments and administrations.

WeBER 2.0 has begun in December 2019 and will last until  December 2022.

Delivering for people: WeBER Project Manager took part in Ankara World Bank conference

By |2020-05-22T12:26:09+02:0012/06/ 2019|News|

Ankara, June 11-12, 2019 – The World Bank’s Building Effective, Accountable, and Inclusive Institutions” conference was held in Ankara, Turkey on June 11th and 12th, 2019. WeBER Project Manager and European Policy Centre (CEP) Programme Director Milena Lazarević was one of the speakers in the conference’s Drivers and enablers of policy effectiveness”  panel. At the event, she discussed how WeBER is working on developing civil society as a key driver of public administration reform in Western Balkan states on the path to EU integration. Her presentation was followed by a discussion with the audience, very much interested in the WeBER project and its findings.

This conference brought government officials, international development partners, academics, private sector representatives, and civil society groups together to take stock of reforms to improve governance in Europe and Central Asia and to further facilitate governance reforms in the future. The conference was supported by the UK’s Good Governance Fund, the European Commission, and SIGMA (of the OECD), among others.

Visit https://www.par-monitor.org/pages/par-monitor-2017-2018 for PAR monitoring reports produced by the WeBER project. These reports provide comparative results for each country in the Western Balkan region based on an in-depth, year-long monitoring effort focused on PAR. A comprehensive Western Balkan PAR Monitor should be read in concurrence with the six national PAR reports, laying out detailed monitoring results from, and recommendations for, each country.

BACID Fund: Calls for Proposals

By |2019-06-07T10:26:49+02:0007/06/ 2019|News|

With funding provided by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the Austrian Association of Cities and Towns (AACT) and KDZ – Centre for Public Administration Research implemented the programme Capacity building in the countries of the Western Balkans and the Republic of Moldova, in the period December 2014 to January 2018. The aim of the Programme was to strengthen the governance structures of the countries in the region and to prepare them for possible accession to the European Union, with a focus on local and regional governments.

After successful implementation of the first phase, the follow-up three-year programme has been approved and the BACID II relaunched in April 2018.

The total amount available under the BACID Fund is € 200,000. The funds will be distributed through Calls for proposals. If the dedicated amount is not spent in one Call, the remaining funds will be transferred to the following Calls. ADA reserves the right to amend maximum amounts available per Call and per action, or not to award all available funds. The amount available in the second Call for proposals is € 60,000.

To qualify for seed funding, concrete follow-up funding programmes must be specified (e.g. EC programme, governmental programme, other donors’ calls for proposals, or similar) in the Application Form. Activities that are accepted as preparation for follow-up funding are the development of project ideas through workshops, implementation of small-scale pilot activities, as well as the preparation of studies, analyses or applications for identified potential funding. The own contribution of Applicants and Partners is obligatory and may include in-kind contributions.

Before applying, please download and read the Guidelines for Applicants carefully: 

Second Call under BACID II Guidelines for Applicants

Here you can download the Application Package:

Complete and correctly filled out applications shall be sent electronically mailto:bacid@kdz.or.at.

For further information, you can review the following template of the grant contract:

Meaningful public consultations and external accountability are the critical challenges to PAR in Albania

By |2019-01-16T13:33:44+01:0016/01/ 2019|News|

Moreover, an independent PAR monitoring and evidence-based dialogue with the government represent a good approach to achieve this goal. IDM Albania presented the WeBER National PAR Monitor Report for Albania along with key insights as to how Albania stands in comparison to the other Western Balkan countries. WeBER’s monitoring approach, which is based on a common regional methodology, offers an independent, outside view of public administration reform, measured against the EU set of principles in this area – the Principles of public administration. The approach is built with an emphasis on the public-facing aspects of an administrations’ work, such as their transparency, openness, inclusiveness, equal opportunity and accountability to the public.

You can read more on the methodology here: https://www.par-monitor.org/pages/par-monitor-methodology.

The report can be found here: http://idmalbania.org/national-par-monitor-albania-2017-2018/

Aleka Papa, WeBER researcher for Albania, presented the PAR Monitor and the main results and recommendations. Across all six PAR fields scrutinised, Albania emerges as the most advanced case in the region. Overall, Albania has acquired 244 out of a total of 581 points across all WeBER indicators, or 42%. In terms of how it fares in the six administrative reform chapters, WeBER methodology finds that the Albania have accomplished the most in the area of service delivery, public service  and human resource management and  public finance management (across the three segments that WeBER monitoring covers: budget transparency, public internal financial control and external audit). At the other end, the area of policy development and coordination emerges as the most critical PAR area based on the results of WeBER indicators. Problematic remain the issues of missing government performance information and critical shortcomings in achieving qualitative consultation processes that enable meaningful participation of the public and civil society to the policy-making process.

Thereafter, Gjergji Vurmo, IDM Programme Director, moderated a discussion with representatives from the Department of Public Administration, Prime Minister Office, ADISA, Information and Data Protection Commissioner and civil society representatives.

GLPS held a Panel Discussion on the topic: “Progress in implementing the Public Administration Reform: Where does Kosovo Stand”

By |2019-01-16T13:29:01+01:0016/01/ 2019|News|

The roundtable managed to gather regional stakeholders in the PAR area, among whom the representatives of civil society, government, media, including members of international organizations and diplomatic representatives.

Members of the National Working Group and the members of WeBER Platform and civil society organizations which are part of the National Working Group. The panel consisted of Mr. Besnik Tahiri, the National Coordinator for State Reform, Mrs. Arjeta Sahiti, Head of the Coordination Secretariat of Prime Ministers Office, Mr. Naser Shamolli, Director of the Legal Department, Ministry of Public Administration Mr. Regjep Vasolli, Director of the Department for European Integration and Policy Coordination, Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Malgorzata Skocinska, Policy Officer on Public Administration Reform, EU Office Kosovo and Mrs. Arberesha Loxha, WeBER Country Researcher, Group for Legal and Political Studies. The monitoring results stemming from the National PAR Monitoring Report for Kosovo indicates that Kosovo performs best in the area of Policy Development and Service Delivery whereas worst in the area of Accountability and Human ResourceManagement. Nevertheless, the regional results suggest that the front-runners in the EU accession process and not really the frontrunners given the WeBER Monitoring results. However, representatives of the Government did not agree with the above mentioned results which according to them, Kosovo is far better than as indicated in the Weber report leaving behind the EU accession process front-runners Montenegro and Serbia. Nevertheless, the roundtable discussion proved to be very interactive and fruitful for the participants of the roundtable where they had the chance to be informed about the WeBER indicators, methodology and the findings of monitoring of PAR.

Press conference “Montenegro and public administration reform – Where are we on the regional scale?”

By |2019-01-16T13:21:24+01:0016/01/ 2019|News|

The report was presented by Stevo Muk, president of the Managing Board, as well as IA's researchers, Dina Bajramspahić and Ana Đurnić.

Presentation entailed detailed explanation of Montenegro's regional ranking according to PAR Monitor results, as well listing of key problems as identified in the PAR Monitor in all key six areas: the strategic framework for public administration reform, policy development and co-ordination, public service and human resource management, accountability, service delivery, public financial management.

Journalists from printed and electronic media attended the event and had the opportunity to ask questions about the findings, while key facts and slides from the presentation were shared during the event on social media.