Budgeting the Cost of Reforms – Programme Budget for Police and Prosecution

The central topic of this paper is the following question: ‘How to check whether the funds required for the implementation of the measures from the Action Plans for Chapters 23 and 24 have been planned in the annual budget?’ In responding to this question, adequate responses can hardly be found by analysing the Budget Law. Its structure is based on the line item budgeting set into programmes, and as such it leaves no space for identifying the links between the funds spent and the attainment of strategic objectives of institutions.

If funds required for the implementation of the measures from the Action Plans are not planned in the budgets of the institutions tasked for their implementation, it is simply impossible to implement them, and the responsibility for errors is decentralised to weak planning. In that regard, a special attention is given to the budgets of the Interior Ministry (Police Authority) and the Prosecutor’s Office, as key institutions bearing the greatest responsibility, and, in the case of the Interior Ministry, with the largest budgetary expenditure for implementing the Action Plan measures.

Consequently, this paper argues for a further development of programme budgeting, as the key instrument for monitoring the performance of public administration and the achievements vis-à-vis the set objectives and allocated budgetary means.

The implementation of programme budgeting would enable for an establishment of a direct link between the implementation of strategic documents and the budgeting process. It would ensure financial planning with a focus on institutions’ objectives and implementation of tasks, establishing a basis for a system of measuring whether the allocated funds helped produce desired results.

However, after a whole decade of the state administration’s work aimed at implementing programme budgeting, we are still at the very beginning. Apart from the simplest formal change of placing budgetary lines within groups called ‘programmes,’ no progress has been made. This paper outlines the problems that ensued and the reasons that led to a halt in this public finance reform.

In search for the lessons learned as regards introducing programme budgeting, as well as its application by prosecution and police authorities, the paper gives an overview of comparative practice. The paper outlines the examples of Norway, the Netherlands, and Croatia as particularly interesting as they are all at a much higher level of programme budgeting. Therefore, their experience is highlighted, as well as their successes and pitfalls from which we may learn while developing our own system.

Towards the end, the paper gives recommendations for further work towards the introduction of programme budgeting. These recommendations go further than offering a general opinion that efforts in this area need to be strengthened, and they propose concrete steps that should be taken in order to lift the process off its current ground zero position.

Montenegrin MPs are Difficult to Reach via Email

Level of availability of Montenegrin MPs for communication via email is low, according to the research conducted by Institute Alternative and designed to determine the response rate of Montenegrin MPs to email messages sent to addresses listed on the parliamentary website.

Institute Alternative conducted research aimed at identifying the level of availability of MPs for citizens’ questions sent to email addresses published on the website of the Parliament.

In the interest of informing citizens about their elected representatives and enhancing communication between citizens and MPs, biographies of MPs were published on the parliamentary website along with contact information which ought to include a phone number, a fax number, and an email address for each member of the Parliament.

However, the research results indicate that the email address of one MP is not listed on the website while another one is invalid. Additionally, phone numbers and fax numbers are made available for 47 MPs or 58%.

We sent email messages to the remaining 79 MPs explaining the objective of our research and asking for the confirmation of the receipt. In the period between 22 and 28 December, only 20 MPs replied to our email.

With respect to the circumstances which could have affected the results, such as numerous responsibilities of the members of the Parliament, as well as the fact that the email was sent from IA’s address which is fairly familiar to a number of MPs, we consider that the 24.7% response rate is extremely low.

Strengthening accountability of the Parliament to the electorate, facilitating citizen engagement in the legislative process, as well as ensuring access to information about the Parliament and its work in an easily accessible way, represent important preconditions for bolstering democratic governance in Montenegro. In theory, parliaments are forums in which citizens’ preferences are aggregated by political parties and expressed as public policies.

Taking into consideration internet penetration rate in Montenegro and the fact that 63.6% of households in Montenegro have internet access[1], information and communications technologies (ICTs) could be used to facilitate public participation in the political process by allowing citizens to comment on legislation or by fostering dialogue with their MPs.

As a reminder, Code of Ethics for MPs[2] stipulates that “during their mandate, each member of the Parliament shall behave in a respectful manner towards citizens” and “shall promote and encourage every measure that contributes to openness to the public”. Moreover, Guidelines for Parliamentary Websites[3], prepared by the Inter-Parliamentary Union[4], specify that it is necessary to “enable members, committees, and officials to efficiently receive, manage, and respond to email(s) from citizens and civil society”.

Achieving higher level of accountability of the parliament to the electorate contributes to its strengthening, as well as to increasing level of trust in this institution. In many developing democracies, parliament may be the only institution capable of providing checks and balances that prevent the executive from monopolizing power. Nevertheless, citizens’ level of trust in the Montenegrin Parliament has been lower than the trust in the President, the Government, the Courts of Montenegro, and the European Union, according to the opinion polls conducted in the past four years.[5]

As part of their responses, several MPs pointed out that citizens rarely contact them via email and that configuration information for the email domain skupstina.me has not been sent to all MPs. They also expressed doubts about the privacy of data exchanged via the “parliamentary email”.

Institute Alternative, therefore, recommends that the Parliamentary Service regularly updates contact information of MPs and provides them with all the information necessary for communicating with citizens. In addition, we recommend that the contact information listed on the parliamentary website contains only one email address for each MP which they use on a daily basis.

Furthermore, we encourage citizens with the internet access to use ICTs when contacting their elected representatives and we invite MPs to recognize the importance of citizen participation and openness of the decision-making process.

Milica Milonjić

Project Associate

Institute Alternative, with the support of the Open Society Foundations – Think Tank Fund, implements the project “Analytical Monitoring of the Oversight Function of the Parliament” which aims to strengthen the impact of implementation of the parliamentary control mechanisms.

[1] The use of information and communication technologies in Montenegro in 2014, press release issued by Statistical Office of Montenegro – MONSTAT, 31 October 2014.

[2] Published in the “Official Gazette of Montenegro”, no. 52/14

[3] Inter-Parliamentary Union, Guidelines for Parliamentary Websites, Geneva, 2009, p. 27

[4] The IPU is the international organization of Parliaments with 166 members, including Parliament of Montenegro.

[5] Opinion polls conducted by CEDEM in the period from 2011 to 2014.

Continuing Our Work in the OGP Operative Team

In accordance to the Regulation of procedure for cooperation between the bodies of state administration and non-governmental organizations, Dina Bajramspahić was once again appointed as the member of Operational Team in Open Government Partnership. She was also a member of the first Operational Team, established in 2012.

After the stagnation of work for a year and a half, on Wednesday, December 24, the new Operational team has been appointed, which will continue to work on activities in order to improve the accountability and transparency of the work of the Government in the context of this global initiative.

The new Operational Team is consisted of seven representatives of state administration as well as seven representatives of non-governmental organizations.

NGOs have been selected in accordance with special regulation which regulates the ways of cooperation between bodies of state administration and non-governmental organizations in Montenegro. The procedure presumed that after the public call announces, NGOs should have nominated their representatives. After that, the list of all candidates who meet the requirements for five fields of action defined by the call should have been published. The last stage had been choosing one representative for each field of the action.

The fields are as follow:

  1. Improving Public services
  2. Increasing the Public Integrity
  3. More effectively managing Public Resources
  4. Establishing more secure communities
  5. Increasing the corporate responsibility

The mission of Operational Team is:

  • To work on preparations and draft of the Second Action Plan in accordance with the principles of Open Government Partnership,
  • To evaluate and monitor the implementation of measures stipulated in Second Action Plan; to prepare and delivers quarterly reports on their work to the Government,
  • To promote the Open Government Partnership
  • To take actions on the transfer of the experience and the best international practice in order to achieve constructive cooperation between state and civil sectors, including the involvement of the citizens in public policies processes towards the creation of new social and economic values as well as improvement of the quality of life for the citizens of Montenegro.

The official decision on appointment is available here (in Montenegrin only)

Equal Chances for All Media in Montenegro?

The research coordinator, Jovana Marović has participated in the project carried out by Centre for Civic Education „Equal opportunities for all media in Montenegro?“, which is supported by the Embassy of Federal Republic of Germany in Montenegro. Jovana researched the part of analysis which refers to procurement and media advertising of public administration. This part of the publication starts from the key challenges in the implementation of the Law on Public Procurement, as well as the model of financing media by the public administration. The focus is on issues of financing the media which fall under the scope of public procurement. Hence, the following issues have been identified as the most important:

  • Lack of implementation of “adequate” procedure, ie. the procedure stipulated in the Law of Public Procurement,
  • Avoiding of the open competition as well as the tender procedure – application of direct agreement (without public announcement), although the Law has limited the usage of this procedure in relation to the amount of purchases as well as in relation to the total percentage of application of this procedure,
  • Inadequate planning – Funds annually allocated for media services and advertising are not always specified in the plans of public procurement.

Jovana has also participated in presentation of key findings at the conference held on December 18th 2014, together with colleagues from Centre for Civic Education. The conference was opened by the Executive Director of CCE, Ms Daliborka Uljarević and the Ambassador of Federal Republic of Germany in Montenegro, H.E. Gudrun Elisabet Stainacker.

Chapter “Public procurement and media advertising of public administration” can be downloaded here (currently, in Montenegrin only)

Better Oversight Through Enhancing the Control Mechanisms

Having in mind the separation of powers and the role of the legislative branch of government that controls the executive, one might say that the central role of the Parliament is to exercise political control over the work of the Government, as well as over the process of accession of Montenegro to the European Union.

The Parliament of Montenegro has to work further in strengthening its control mechanism in relation to executive power. When talking about this part of parliamentary work, there is a space for further improvement of the control mechanisms towards:

  • Organizing special sittings dedicated to parliamentary questions once a month
  • Law Amendments on Parliamentary investigations in order to enable, inter alia, introduction of penal provisions for failure to provide information or false testimony, and creation of legal basis for invitation of citizens to testimony in front of inquiry committee etc.

It’s equally important to provide requirements for adequate usage of existing control mechanism:

  • Often happens that Government “forgets” or ignore the conclusions of the Parliament. State institutions use the different dynamic while providing information demanded by competent committee, as well as the information about the realization of the conclusion of the Parliament. Therefore, it is necessary to determine the obligation to institutions to report automatically on realization of conclusions of the Parliament, not at the request of the board.
  • The anticorruption board still hasn’t determined the procedure for consideration of complaints suggested by interested parties. Therefore, it is necessary to define as soon as possible.
  • It is necessary to regulate review of legislative acts within the scope of the fight against the corruption and organized crime by the Anticorruption Committee.
  • Procedures for initiatives coming from civil sector are still insufficiently regulated.

The opposition does not use the right of “mobility” of two control hearings in each committee during one year, which is guaranteed by the Rules of Procedure. Using this possibility is very important for the improvement of the control mechanism of the Parliament. However, in the first half of 2014, only one hearing was organized, only in Committee on International Relations and Emigrants.

Institute Alternative, with the support of the Open Society Foundations – Think Tank Fund, implements the project “Analytical Monitoring of the Oversight Function of the Parliament”, which aims to strengthen the impact of implementation of the parliamentary control mechanisms.

Jovana Marović
Research Coordinator