Enchanted Circle of Rationalisation

Montenegro’s public sector employs about 60 thousand people, and spends more than half a billion euro on salaries every year, a figure that continues to increase. The Government promised to reduce the number or employees in the public sector by 5% at the national level, and by 10% at the regional level by 2020, i.e. to let go about 3200 employees from the public service.

This is not the first time the Government has made such promises. The promise of the 2013 Public Sector Reorganisation - to cut staff by 10% - remained empty words on paper. Sectoral initiatives launched since then, such as the rationalisation of the school network and reduction of employment levels in education also failed to yield results.

Employment in the public sector represents one of key political resources, one which is used (and abused) throughout the government’s term, but is especially linked to the election process, during which votes are bought with promises of employment in the public sector.

The current process of optimisation, instead of systematically addressing the problem of human resource planning in the public administration, wants to achieve the planned cuts through quick one-off fixes (early retirements, severance payments, abolishment of fixed-term contracts).

This analysis presents the current trends in the optimisation process and brings to attention the lessons we could learn from the previous attempts at downsizing, including some critical flaws that will doom the process to failure unless some fundamental changes are made in the way it is implemented.

Announcement: Police – Integrated Body, Yes or No?

Institute Alternative is organizing a panel discussion with the topic on “Police – Integrated Body, Yes or No?” which will take place in Hotel Podgorica, Montenegro, on 14 of June at 11 AM.

The topics of the discussion are following:

  • What are the key advantages and disadvantages of the concept of “integrated bodies”?
  • What are the effects of this model on accountability, efficiency, and optimization?
  • What is the experience of the Ministry of Interior and the Police in this matter
  • What arguments made the Ministry of Interior decide to keep the existing concept of integrated organs in the Draft Law on Internal Affairs?
  • On what basis has the Ministry of Public Administration proposed the abolition of integrated organs in the Draft Law on State Administration?
  • What are the conclusions of the Draft Analysis of the Functional and Financial Effects of introducing institute of “integrated administration bodies” into the Montenegrin system of administration?

These and other questions will be addressed by:

Danijela Nedjeljković-Vukčević, Director General in the Ministry of Public Administration,

Danilo Ćupić, Director General in the Ministry of Interior,

Branislav Radulović, member of the Senate of the State Audit Institution,

Radovan Ljumović, Head of the Department for Analysis, Improvement of Work and Development in the Police Directorate.

 

Moderator: Dina Bajramspahić, Public Policy Researcher in the Institute Alternative.

We  invite you to attend the panel and, if motivated by the discussion, share your arguments in favor of solution you find the most appropriate. Contact us at: info@institut-alternativa.org

Please be informed that simultaneous translation will be provided.

The panel discussion is organized with the support of the European Union through the Civil Society Facility Program within the framework of the project “Western Balkans Pulse for Police Integrity and Trust – POINTPULSE”.

Let’s talk about effects!

...or gaps in reporting on public administration reform in Montenegro

Reporting on the implementation of reforms is an important mechanism for timely prevention of the potential negative outcomes, improvement of the implementation, but also creation of the basis for a comprehensive impact assessment, which should precede the adoption of the new decisions in the provided area. In this regard, in the context of the public policy cycle, this “tool” refers to the implementation stage of certain policies and their monitoring, but it should also be an “introduction” to the process of impact assessment - evaluation. 

Result-oriented and impact-oriented reporting in Montenegro is underdeveloped. SIGMA assessed that the first report on the implementation of the Public Administration Reform Strategy focuses exclusively on the implementation of activities. With regard to the fulfilment of the European public administration principles in Montenegro, the rating for reporting on the implementation of strategies has deteriorated, because the reports discussed by the Government in 2015 and 2016 focus exclusively on the implementation of activities and not on the outcomes achieved as a result of these activities. When it comes to reports on the work of institutions, it is especially highlighted that the annual reports on the work of the bodies subordinated to the ministries are “process-oriented” and overloaded with statistical data, which, however, are not linked to specific, measurable objectives or performance indicators. 

Bearing in mind the aforementioned shortcomings of reporting on the implementation of strategies in Montenegro, the aim of the analysis is to demonstrate the gaps in the current system and data management, and indicate the ways to make improvements, by using concrete examples of (non)reporting on the key measures and outcomes of public administration reform. This could ensure that the reporting on the Strategy, but also on the work of the specific stakeholders, could ensure an informed decision-making and evidence-based discussion. 

Authorities do not give up from taking over public broadcaster

Announced discussion on initiative for dismissal of Director General of RTCG, Andrijana Kadija, re-confirms the intention of DPS to return RTCG under its absolute control, and halt its transformation into public service, despite warnings from European Union.

Foto: Vijesti

We remind that systemic, continuous and so far unheard-of attacks on RTCG started with unlawful dismissals of two members of the Council, Goran Djurovic and Nikola Vukcevic, in December last year. Illegal dismissals of two members of the Council, which were technically carried out by the Administrative Committee, led by MPs of DPS, Ljuidj Skrelja and Marta Scepanovic, have clearly demonstrated that DPS chooses no means to ‘cleanse’ the RTCG from those who are disobedient to them and re-convert this media into a party bulletin. For this purpose, individuals have been installed in the Council who are direct executors of orders from the authorities with a translucent tactic of multi-month undermining of the management authority, interfering the RTCG functioning and, ultimately voting for dismissal of Director General.

New RTCG management, headed by Andrijana Kadija and Vladan Micunovic, followed the line of the opened reform process in the public service, regardless of all resistance that they experience internally and pressures that are trying to be imposed from the outside. This does not suit DPS and the Government, since DPS and the Government accept exclusively subordinate institutions, organisations and individuals without integrity, ready to carry out illegal acts for the benefit of the ruling party without any objections. One of these is a member of the Council, Mimo Draskovic, who confirms his loyalty to DPS by also attending the conventions of this party, and who finally submitted the several-months-announced initiative to dismiss the Director General, and thus fulfilled his role in this body.

In previous months, the work of RTCG has been actively obstructed also by the Government of Montenegro, which has postponed the signing of the Public Service Provision Agreement between the Government and the RTCG, as well as the approval of the Collective Agreement of RTCG, also noted with concern in the EC Report as part of the political pressures.

Dismissal of Andrijana Kadija would confirm that DPS and the Government will not allow building of institutions without party influence, that they are determined to directly derogate all institutions which make any step towards independence, as well as that they do not give space to anyone with integrity to do their job in a managerial position, namely, that they are consciously shattering all pillars on which the functional rule of law should rest.

By dismissal of Kadija, the authorities would open up the space for the European Commission to seriously consider activating the balance clause, as substantial improvement should be required on the rule of law and before technical talks on other chapters of the accession negotiations can be provisionally closed, wherein freedom of the media and expression is one of the important issues. The EC Report states, inter alia: ‘Initial positive developments on RTCG's editorial independence and professionalism were challenged by instances of undue political interference and political pressure on its Council…’, with the overall assessment that Montenegro made no progress in the reporting period and expressed concern about the situation in RTCG. Therefore precisely, dismissal of Kadija would represent a demonstration of force and power at the expense of the rule of law which calls upon the balance clause far stronger than the recommendation of four NGOs did.

Ana Novakovic, Executive Director, Center for Development of Non-Governmental Organisations (CDNGO)
Daliborka Uljarevic, Executive Director, Centre for Civic Education (CCE)
Stevo Muk, President of MB, Institute Alternative (IA)
Zlatko Vujovic, President of MB, Center for Monitoring and Research (CeMI)

Toward a better administration in Montenegro: Good progress or modest preparation?

This report provides an overview of the situation in the key areas of public administration reform in Montenegro. It presents new information related to the implementation of this important reform, which we first reviewed in the report titled “Public administration reform: How far is 2020?” from June 2017.

The first half of the implementation term of the 2016-2020 Public Administration Reform Strategy (PAR Strategy) was marked by slow implementation of the activities, mainly reduced to regulatory amendments and drafting of analyses. The activities that were supposed to lead to greater citizen participation in decision-making, electronic data exchange in the delivery of administrative services and more managerial accountability through delegation of authorities did not get implemented within the set timeline. In addition to the objectives and activities included in the Strategy, amendments to the Law on State Administration were adopted, relieving the state authorities of the obligation to conduct public consultations on the public policies from the fields of defence and security and annual budget, or in emergency, urgent or unforeseeable circumstances, or “when a law does not regulate an issue in an essentially different manner”. This sustained the trend of taking action, which - in spite of the strategic framework aspiring to a more open administration – amounted to regression in certain areas.

In principle, no substantial progress has been made in the public administration reform, while regression has been noted in the regulation of public debates and free access to information. The level of citizens’ trust remained unchanged in 2017 and 2018. A considerable share of our recommendations refers to deletion of recent legal provisions, rather than improvement of practices – this is a true reflection of the course of public administration reform since the adoption of the new Strategy in 2016.

Municipalities in Trial: Between Lack of Accountability and Protection of Local Interests

The subject of this study is the protection of property rights at the local level in Montenegro.

Just like the central state, local governments appear before courts more frequently as defendants than as plaintiffs. The most frequent type of charges brought against them involve work-related rights. These can also be dealt with via mediation, but information on the number of mediation cases or settlements in work-related disputes is not proactively published. Data privacy rules did not allow us to get the municipal level information from the Agency for peaceful settlement of labour disputes. Overall, there is little transparency in this area: reports on the work of municipal bodies in charge of legal representation and protection of property are not proactively published.

In the upcoming period, Ministry of Finance should regulate the rules for reporting on spending on court-related nes and insist on uni ed and transparent presentation of amounts budgeted for court-related costs as a condition for the Ministry’s approval of local self-governments’ budget decisions. This could be accomplished by amending Regulations on the single classi cation of accounts for the Budget of Montenegro, budgets of extra-budgetary funds and budgets of municipalities. Local self-governments should regularly published analytical cards, and municipal bodies in charge of representation and protection ought to proactively publish report son their work, and inform the relevant authorities in local self-governments about the state of court disputes in order to ensure timely initiation of negotiations with plaintiffs and more frequent use of alternative settlement procedures. State Audit Institution ought to conduct a thematic audit of expenses incurred through court proceedings by all local self-governments.