Civil servants’ accountability in the focus of Public Administration Reform

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Accountability at all levels is a key concept for establishing good governance practices in the public administration of Montenegro, as concluded at the panel discussion on the priorities of public administration reform

“The end goal of the public administration reform is to make citizens’ life easier, and this is something we all need to keep in mind” said Eleonora Formagnana, Program Manager at the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, opening the round table “Priorities of the Public Administration Reform”.

Panel discussion on the priorities of the public administration reform was organized by the Institute Alternative and the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro in the EU Info Center.

Milena Milošević, public policy researcher at the Institute Alternative, reminded that the Institute last June published a report on the implementation of this reform, within the project “Civil Society for Good Governance: To Act and Account!”, supported by the European Union.

“What is particularly visible in our research is the lack of accountability and mechanisms that aim to improve it. It suffices to visit the Ombudsman website and look at the latest citizens’ remarks on the work of the administration. For example, a citizen is not able to dispose of his property since 2003, i.e. for 14 years, because the Property Administration is delaying the procedure“, stated Milošević.

Milošević praised the operational conclusions of the Special Working Group on Public Administration Reform, consisting of representatives of the European Commission and our Government, which refer to the area of accountability. “Given that we were among the first to initiate the discussion on potential ways of improving cooperation between the State Audit Institution (SAI) and the Prosecutor’s Office and to call on the SAI to be more proactive, we find it particularly commendable that in the future more attention will be given to this inter-institutional cooperation and that the measures taken on the basis of cases brought by the SAI to the Prosecutor’s Office will be monitored.”

Danijela Nedeljković – Vukčević, Director General in the Ministry of Public Administration (MPA), said that the public administration and civil society often see results differently, which is also natural. “However, the operational conclusions of the Special Group, which are published on the MPA website for the first time, are one of the indicators of openness and readiness of the administration to work on the reforms seriously and transparently.”

“We need to work on raising awareness of the managers about how accountable they are in their work. Also, attention is focused on updating the Central Personnel Register, without which there is no quality human resources management. We are currently working on creating conditions for linking this database with the Ministry of Finance one on earnings, which is a prerequisite for effective monitoring of the number of employees and the realization of the optimization process”

Ana Krsmanović, General Director of the Ministry of Finance, said that civil society organizations must be controllers, and that pointing out the problems from the exterior sources will always be useful.

“Changes do not happen overnight, but I think we can increasingly see progress in the quality of administration. We do not have to have tectonic changes to improve the situation”, Krsmanovic said, noting that the introduction of new practices in work contributes to greater accountability and better services.

“When our name is on the paper we are signing, we will do more to fulfil the tasks, especially if there is a sanction for (non)execution of the task” said Krsmanovic, stating that the concept of managerial responsibility will lead to better quality of the administration.

Ana Perović – Vojinović, Administrative court judge, said that the new Law on Administrative Procedure and the Law on Administrative Dispute introduce new legal remedies. “In the context of public administration reform and the aspiration to shorten the duration of the administrative dispute, and as someone who applies the Law on daily basis, I must say that although we strive to have both efficiency and quality, this is not always easy. The administration has to contribute to the establishment of a balance between these concepts as well.”

By the end of October this year, the Ministry of Public Administration and the Ministry of Finance will be in possession of exact number of employees, promised Nedeljkovic Vukčević, answering the media question, after which the finalization of the methodology for determining the optimal number of employees in our administration will take place.

Institute Alternative Team

 Photo credits: EUIC/U. Jovović

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