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Weak mechanisms for improving service accessibility for disadvantaged groups

By |2022-06-13T16:25:52+02:0013/06/ 2022|Publications|

The process of adjusting and improving accessibility to public services for disadvantaged groups in the Western Balkans is quite slow and not much progress has been made. This particularly applies to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), where public service delivery should respond more effectively to the actual needs and demands of the population. In general, Western Balkan administrations aim to increase the accessibility of services to people with disabilities and reach the standards for accessibility. However, this remains limited to the legislative and policy framework, and not equally implemented in practice.

Download the Brief here (English) and here (BHS).

Government-citizen relations in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Representation through policy-making process

By |2022-05-25T17:01:19+02:0025/05/ 2022|Publications|

Despite being a central part of the executive bodies, policy-making is often undervalued and misunderstood. Public policy regulates the type and level of services that will be provided to the residents, influences developments that occur in the community and shapes the future of democratic changes. However, to respond to occurring challenges in governance and representation, government-citizen relations must be strengthened. Decision-making procedures in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) are multilevel and inefficient, as ethnically based political parties exercise high levels of control on decision-making and the media at the local level, while the rights of minorities remain violated. Furthermore, civil society organisations (CSOs), despite their active role in bridging the gap between government and citizens, often remain overlooked by the authorities. By identifying strengths and challenges to local democracy, including evidence-based practices and implementing agreed reforms, BiH can pursue a continued and enhanced cooperation with authorities in the European Union (EU) and the Western Balkans.

Download the Brief here (English) and here (BHS).

Addressing the lack of open data in Bosnia and Herzegovina

2022-04-20T10:53:41+02:0020/04/ 2022|Publications|

Open data refers to public sector information or government data that can be readily and widely accessed and reused. This data must be available at no more than a reasonable reproduction cost, mainly available for download over the internet, in a convenient and modifiable form. The main reason behind this is interoperability – the ability of diverse systems and organisations to work together, allowing for different components to intermix. The opening of public data represents a phase in the development of an idea of public administration transparency, an idea that contributes to society as a whole. Publishing public data contributes to the transparency of public institutions, the work efficiency of public administration, as well as to higher involvement of citizens in decision-making processes. By making governments more transparent, open data can provide clear information on how public money is being spent and how different policies are being implemented. Publicly available data can contribute to informing individuals on relevant state matters and contribute to opinion forming. With that, it can boost citizen participation in political life and promote the significance of public consultations. Furthermore, open data allows citizens to obtain necessary information without needing to directly contact public administration, resulting in higher efficiency and less workload for public institutions. This can also initiate long-lasting cooperation among different agencies and institutions in the public sector. Since there is a growing need for an open data policy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the intent of this policy brief is to address this need, assess and analyze the current state in this regard, as well as provide recommendations for further steps on the path towards opening data, relying on WeBER PAR Monitoring Reports for 2019/2020.

Find the Policy Brief here (in English) and here (in BHS).

 

 

Publishing information on the public service in North Macedonia

2022-04-25T19:15:35+02:0019/04/ 2022|Publications|

In North Macedonia, the public has to be informed about official data and reports on the civil service and employees in the central state administration. This is a legal obligation deriving from the Law on Administrative Servants (LAS) and the Law on Public Sector Employees (LPSE). In the context of properly designing and implementing human resource management (HRM) policy, it is of the foremost importance that in-line authorities possess complete and reliable data about their human resources.

This does not mean that all HRM information should be made publicly available, since there are certain types of information that may not be provided publicly, such as personal data. However, the lack of effort for the promotion and dissemination of data on civil service may suggest that governments either do not recognise the importance of accountability or that they are concerned about potential public reactions to what can be seen as oversized and
inadequately efficient administrations

Find the Policy Brief here (in English) and here (in Macedonian).

 

 

The role and potentials of the SAO in improving transparency, accountability, and efficiency of institutions

2022-04-19T16:41:46+02:0019/04/ 2022|Publications|

In the public administration context, as set forth under the SIGMA Principles, it is extremely important for the State Audit Office (SAO) to apply standards in a neutral and objective way in order to ensure high quality audits, which subsequently will have a positive impact on the public sector functioning. The documents presenting the outcomes of audits should be guided by three principles, i.e., they should be aimed at strengthening the responsibility, transparency, and integrity of the Government and of public sector entities (protection of the public interest); then they should emphasize the importance of such principles to citizens, to the Parliament and to other stakeholders; and finally, they should demonstrate what it means to lead by a role model.

The SAO is one of the key institutions in identifying and disclosing irregularities, cases of illegal actions and possible cases of corruption and abuse of office. In this regard, the latest European Commission (EC) Report explicitly states that it is necessary to allocate adequate resources for this institution that has competences in the fight against corruption in order to be able to pursue high-profile cases.

Find the Policy Brief here (in English) and here (in Macedonian).

 

 

Accountability – a vital prerequisite for public authorities

2022-04-28T13:21:09+02:0019/04/ 2022|Publications|

Accountability is a precondition for public authorities in order that they could be liable for the results or lack thereof while operating with resources entrusted to them as part of the mandate/competence conferred upon them. It ensures that public officials’ actions and decisions are subject to oversight, which on its part ensures that government initiatives achieve envisaged objectives and address needs of citizens they are intended to serve. In general, accountability arises when the Government’s performance is subject to oversight or requests by other persons or organizations for the Government to provide information justifying its actions.

Accountability and proactivity of public authorities have significantly advanced in the past two years. North Macedonia has progressed in most areas covered by the accountability principle and is now a top performer in the Region, albeit some important weaknesses still persist.

The new Law on Free Access to Public Information (LFAPI) has significantly improved the legal grounds for the implementation of this right. However, proactivity in the disclosure of information and datasets on official websites remain very low, which indicates a significant gap in the implementation of the LFAPI.

Find the Policy Brief here (in English) and here (in Macedonian).

Politicization risks in Albania’s civil service

2022-04-27T14:55:40+02:0019/04/ 2022|Publications|

The professional integrity of the civil service remains a key challenge for the public administration reform effort in Albania. Integrity challenges have profound negative policy effects as they enable corruption by facilitating political patronage networks and policies that favour private interests by abusing the taxpayers’ trust and money.

Such corrupt structures, which burden the state and inflict serious long-term damage to the country, are sustained through the politicisation of the country’s public administration and – more specifically – its civil service. In this policy brief, the politicisation of the civil service is discussed in terms of the exemptions from the scope of the standing civil service legislation and the shortcomings of the senior civil servant recruitment and appointment system. The paper builds on the findings of the 2019/2020 PAR Monitor1 report by expanding the examination of these two issues.

Find the Policy Brief here (in English) and here (in Albanian).

Ticking the box on public consultations

2022-04-21T16:28:10+02:0019/04/ 2022|Publications|

A transparent approach to consultation processes, inclusive of civil society and open to the public, is essential to ensure the integrity, quality, and legitimacy of decision-making. The effectiveness and genuineness of such processes are integrally bound to the transparency provided by the institutions in charge of the decision-making.

To enable public scrutiny, access to public consultation processes must be ensured by the government, from the initial phases of law-making and policy-making, before the draft documents reach the Parliament. The Council of Ministers (hereinafter ‘’the CoM’’) is a key actor in such processes since it submits an average of 80–85% of all the draft laws that are reviewed by the Parliament every year. Therefore, this policy brief will address public consultation processes at the central government level with the aim to expose factors that enable their circumvention. It argues that to conduct successful and meaningful public consultations processes, the shortcomings in the legal framework and institutional practice that enable the circumvention, need to be addressed. Lastly, it provides policy recommendations that aim to eliminate the identified legal gaps and improve proactive transparency.

Find the Policy Brief here (in English) and here (in Albanian).

Flawed policymaking in Albania

2022-04-20T09:43:24+02:0019/04/ 2022|Publications|

One of the critical dimensions of the public administration reform (PAR) in Albania and of the European accession process refers to the transparency of policy development. Access to information has been often described as the ‘oxygen of democracy’ enabling citizens to truly participate in an informed way in decision-making processes, hold those in power accountable and influence policy development. The absence of or inaccessibility to information can create a sense of disempowerment, mistrust, and frustration with those in power. Transparency is also a principle of good governance and requires a continues dialogue and cooperation between decision makers and other actors in society. Studies have shown that transparency benefits policy efficiency and is deemed as a crucial instrument to fight corruption. The free flow of information is thus paramount to democratic processes, building trust between government and citizens and
contributing to the progress of policy development.

Through secondary resources and data collected by the WeBER 2.0 PAR Monitoring Report, this policy brief zooms into the practices of arbitrary policymaking and lack of transparency in policy development in Albania. It discusses its implications and outlines some key recommendations on how to reverse the current situation particularly in terms of increasing transparency through the engagement of civil society analysis and inputs, evidence-based policy and data-driven decision making. Although public consultations and participation in policy development is an interlinked dimension of the overall transparency efforts of the
governments, it falls outside of the scope of this policy brief.

Find the Policy Brief here (in English) and here (in Albanian).

Public consultations and policymaking in Serbia

2022-04-20T09:51:26+02:0018/04/ 2022|Publications|

Being part of the wider public administration reform (PAR), policymaking reforms in Serbia entail improvements in implementing consultations with stakeholders, and public debates on policy documents and legislation (hereinafter: public consultations), throughout the drafting process. By consulting the target groups throughout, the effects of the proposed solutions are assessed, and the costs minimized, which makes public consultations one of the most valuable tools in the preparation of draft policy documents and legislation. Moreover, involvement positively impacts sustainability of policies and ensure their responsiveness to real needs of the society.

However, public consultations are still insufficiently widespread in policymaking in Serbia, and when they are conducted, it is often pro forma, without ensuring the quality of the process. As a result, policies are often not adapted to the citizens’ needs, and their implementation degree is low. This further contributes to the reduced citizens’ trust in institutions[2], resistance to policy implementation, and ultimately, makes policies unsustainable.

The results of the National PAR Monitor 2019/2020 for Serbia indicate that there has been no progress in conducting public consultations compared to the baseline PAR Monitor for the period 2017/2018. In other words, public consultations have not been consistently conducted, there is a lack of continuity in reporting, and the real influence of public participation is limited due to minimal adoption of suggestions and comments. In addition, the competent authorities are insufficiently engaged in proactive informing and involving of stakeholders in the various stages of these processes.

Download the policy brief here (English) and here (Serbian).