Press relase: Audit Subjects Not Complying with SAI’s Requests

Institut alternativa’s research indicates that half of institutions that were audited by the State Audit Institution (SAI) in the last year have not complied with the obligation to submit reports on the implementation of the SAI’s recommendations.

Auditees that did not submit the report on the fulfillment of the recommendations are: Municipality of Bijelo Polje, Agency for the Protection of Personal Data and the Free Access to Information, Social Council, Ministry for Human and Minority Rights, Ministry of Finance and the Property Administration.

These entities have been audited in the previous year were audited and SAI issued an obligation for them to report on what has been done to implement the recommendations and remedy the registered irregularities.

The deadline in which they had to submit their report to the SAI has long passed, for some well over half a year.

It is particularly worrying that among the institutions that have failed to meet this obligation is the Ministry of Finance, which should strive to have an exemplary relation with the SAI and serve as a model for other spending units.

This information does not give us much confidence that the work of the SAI is taken seriously by the auditees. We call upon the competent Parliamentary Committee for Economy, Finance and Budget to address this issue and put pressure on the aforementioned institutions and thus contribute to the impact of SAI’s work.

In the coming period, IA will conduct research in whether and how auditor’s recommendations are implemented by the audit entities. This is a part of a project supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy, entitled “Together towards accountability – strengthening the impact of the state audit in Montenegro”. It will be implemented in the coming year, and besides analysis of the implementation of SAI’s recommendations, its components are strengthening ties with between the SAI and the Parliament of Montenegro, civil society organizations and internal auditors in the public sector

Policy analyst

Press release: Instead of praises, prosecution reports to be realistic

Reports on the work of the Supreme State Prosecutor’s Office mostly consist of statistics and ignore concrete problems in the work of this institution, although a number of issues in its work are indicated by the expert community.

The conclusions from the last report of the State Prosecutor’s Office from 2012 are, in fact, positive comments and praises of the successful work of this institution, while the recommendations for improvement of its work are reduced to the need for more counselors, improvement of co-operation with the police and renovating premises of the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office in Kotor.

On the other hand, comparing the various annual reports it is impossible to monitor long-term trends for specific categories of information such as the number of criminal charges or convictions, given the fact that only in rare cases these reports provide comparative data in relation to the previous year.

The reports do not provide an analysis of the structure of the criminal charges filed by the state authorities, like Police Administration, Customs Administration, Tax Administration, Directorate for Anti-Corruption Initiative, Administration for Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing Terrorism, State Audit Institution, etc, nor the concrete data on the decisions and procedures of the Prosecution in respect to these charges. It is also impossible to find specific data on joint actions and cooperation with the police and other state authorities.

A more detailed review of the budget funds allocated for the work of this institution are also missing from its annual reports, as well as the impact assessment of the approved funds to the efficiency of its work.

Reports on the work of this institution therefore should be improved, first of all, through providing detailed review of the activities undertaken and the results achieved in the cases, with special emphasis on the cases that are of interest to the public. For example, one report of Special Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime in Serbia provides detailed information on the 35 most significant cases, including 7 pages long description of the case “Balkan Warrior”, which refers to actions undertaken to collect evidence for all the charges brought against Darko Saric’s criminal group.

Furthermore, realistic consideration of the problems in the work of this institution is needed, which would take into account findings of independent experts, international and national organizations, followed by proposing measures to address the identified problems.

The State Prosecutor’s Office reports should display level of established collaboration with other state authorities by providing information on the number of cases in which the cooperation had been established, the number of exchanged data and the number of actions undertaken by state authorities at the request of the State Prosecutor’s Office.

These are the main recommendations and findings of the analysis of structure of reports of State Prosecutor’s Office conducted by Institute Alternative (IA) in the framework of the project dedicated to strengthening inter-institutional cooperation in the criminal justice system of Montenegro.

The project was supported by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) of the State Department through Embassy of the United States in Montenegro within the “Criminal Justice Civil Society Program”.

Dina Bajramspahić
Policy Analyst

Commentary on the draft Law on wages in the public sector

Institute Alternative (IA) in its 2008 analysis on wages and rewards policies in Montenegro’s public administration recommended that one legal act should regulate wages in regulatory bodies and local and state administration authorities. We thus support the decision of Ministry of Finance to draft the Law on wages of public sector employees, which would be equally applicable to the employees of state and local authorities, independent or regulatory bodies, and legal subjects majority owned by the state or municipality.

However, this document demonstrates some deficiencies and it is not completely aligned with legislation in the field.

In its comments to the Draft, the IA pinpoints the un-sustainability of certain provisions given that the status of all the employees covered by the document is not uniformly regulated. Also, calculation of wages for certain job positions is not consistent. The wage supplements are not regulated in a manner which would encourage the rewards of best performing employees.

Our entire comentary on the draft law can be found here (only in Montenegrin)

Press release: Performance appraisal of state administration employees lacks criteria

Grades of state employees for previous year do not reflect their actual performance, as demonstrated by the case of Administration for Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, whose all employees, without exception, were assessed as excellent.

Law on civil servants and state employees and the Decree regulating their performance appraisal envisage continuous monitoring of civil servants and state employees performance and issuing decisions on their grades until January 31 of the following year.

However, the relevant Decree was adopted with delay and entered into force only in July 2013, what had a negative effect on quality of performance appraisal.

Institute Alternative (IA) has asked decisions on grades of civil servants and state employees from five authorities: Agency for Environmental Protection, Legislative Secretariat, Administration for Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Culture, in order to gain insight into the implementation of the new acts regulating the field.

Requests for access to these information were sent on February 11, 2014. We still have not received the answer from the Ministry of Culture, while Agency for Environmental Protection and Ministry of Interior have not brought all decisions on performance appraisal within the legally prescribed deadline.

According to the information obtained, most of the civil servants and state employees, apart from the Ministry of Interior, were assessed as “excellent”. In that respect, the most notorious example is the one of Administration for Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism. Performance of all servants and employees in this Administration was assessed as “excellent”, even the work of the senior managerial staff, which should be graded only as “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory”.

Ministry of Interior, however, is exemption, since the largest number of its employees, 226 of them, received average grade, and not the excellent one. Performance of even two employees was assessed as not satisfactory, what opens possibility for them to be left without the job if their performance doesn’t improve.

All analyzed decisions are superficial and they don’t offer detailed explanation of the manner in which performance appraisal has been conducted.

In other words, although the Law and the Decree prescribe criteria and benchmarks for performance appraisal in detail, it is impossible to determine the basis for final frade from decisions which were obtained by IA.

Policy Analyst

II module of the 2014 Public Policy School

Lectures within the Second module of the 2014 Public Policy School were held on April 12th and 13th, at the premises of PR Center. The topic of this module, “Public Policy Analysis”, was presented by Snežana Đorđević, PhD, professor at the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Belgrade.

(Agenda – only in Montenegrin)

The lectures began by tackling concepts, meanings, standards, and usability of public policies, as well as tools for their analysis. During the discussion related to the public policy cycle, special attention was given to the procedures of citizen involvement in the decision-making processes.

On the second day participants had the opportunity to become familiarized with the most relevant quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis, as well as preparation of research, defining research questions and determining research design.

As the emphasis was put on the interactivity of lectures, four group exercises were designed during the two-day seminar, in order for students to be able to apply the concepts discussed during the lectures.

Public Policy School is the project supported by the Commission for the Allocation of Revenue from Games of Chance and implemented by Institute Alternative (IA) in collaboration with the Centre for Research and Monitoring (CeMI).