Consultative conference ’’Civic control over police and public critic”

Public policy researcher, Dina Bajramspahić, participated in a consultative conference of the Council for the Civic control of the Police and civil society, on February 5th called ’’Civic control of the Police and public critic’’. The conference gathered representatives of 20 organizations for human rights and democratic transition.

Dina has presented Institute alternative’s research finding, regarding results of the public control of the police from report called ’’Police integrity assessment in Montenegro’’. She gave suggestions for improvement of the work baring in mind recently appointed members of the Council.

Dina pointed out that the Council has the poorest legal jurisdictions in relation to the other police control authorities and that this issue has to be changed. Because of the Council’s great enthusiasm and its willingness to do its work well, balance should be made regarding strengthening jurisdictions. She has also pointed out that there is a lack of information on the implementation of the conclusions and ratings. Therefore, it is only natural that the Parliamentary committee for security and defense is partner to the Council.

She has also criticized Council’s budget and remarked that it has been on the low level for years.

Report from the conference can be found in its entirety here (in Montenegrin only).

School for sustainable and coherent policies

Institute Alternative continues successful implementation of Public Policy School with the support of the Commission for Allocation of Revenue from Games of Chance. We obtained funding for the fifth year in a row while our proposal received the highest number of points by the selection committee within the category “Non-Formal Education of Children and Youth”.

Montenegrin accession negotiations are moving towards a stage where national co-ordination and policy capacities need to be systematic and thorough. Public policies must not be deficient in substance, need to be consistent with one another as well as economically efficient and financially sustainable. Additionally, proper implementation and monitoring of policies need to be ensured.

However, problems in this area remain numerous starting from weak capacities of the Government to scrutinize draft policies and judge whether they meet previous commitments. Additionally, sectoral strategies are developed incoherently and often lack costing or a link to the medium-term expenditure framework, therefore putting at risk their future implementation. Moreover, ministries focus on the implementation of policies while relatively low number of civil servants works on policy analysis and development. Furthermore, there are major weaknesses in implementation of inter-ministerial and public consultations. These claims are confirmed by the European Commission in its latest progress report for Montenegro.

With the aim of addressing such shortcomings in the work of the Montenegrin public administration, we have been implementing this programme for four years. We wish to ensure that current and future actors of public policy creation and implementation process gain necessary knowledge and skills, but also to enable communication and cooperation between different sectors and institutions. We believe it is important to strengthen capacities of public administration because the system of policy creation severely impacts opportunities for development and the character of economic growth of a society.

More than 90 participants have successfully completed the programme thus far, out of which the largest number are civil servants – 37%. Additionally, we published the collection of papers entitled “Public Policies” in which five authors from the perspective of different disciplines analyze the concept and key elements of public policy. Furthermore, the School is licensed as the official programme for the acquisition of knowledge and skills in the field of public policy by the National Council for Education of Montenegro.

The call for participants of the Fifth Generation of Public Policy School will be announced in the second half of 2016.

Public Policy Researcher

The Agency should rather pay attention to the implementation and instead to the violation of the law

Institute Alternative’s reaction to comments of Agency for prevention of corruption to our publication ‘’Happy New Agency!’’

We are taken by surprise with the attitude of the members of the Council of the Agency for prevention of Corruption stating that the Institute Alternative’s case study ‘’Happy New Agency’’ is ‘’badly argumented, unobjective and an orchestrated attack on the independent institution’’, particularly taking into account that such an estimation is not corroborated with responses concerning our analysis and facts. The Agency is therefore trying to give a negative evaluation of our organization without a single counterargument. It is true that our representatives participated in all Agency’s Council sessions that were open for public during last year, so a question arises as to what made the members of the Council be less ‘’generous’’ in 2016 by completely forbidding such mechanism of participation of interested parties that is foreseen by the Rules of Procedure.

Additionally troublesome are their instructions on obligatory use of ‘’table and graphic presentations’’ which would, according to the representatives of the Council of the Agency that have supported comments to our publication, contribute to its level of ‘’seriousness’’. Besides stating that the Institute Alternative as a scientific-research centre still had to fulfill some conditions in order to obtain its working licence, we would also like to inform the members of the Council that our publication does not have a goal of presenting the public opinion that was submitted to us as an example of a successful research. Nevertheless, as it is pointed out in the comments by the Agency for prevention of corruption, it is a matter of a methodological approach.

Finally, given that the signatories of the comments are interested in the matters of financing of the study ‘’Happy New Agency’’, we would like to inform the public that the publication is a result of a research of the Institute Alternative which was not financially supported. The mission of the civil sector is the democratisation of society, and it is not limited in a timely or financial manner. Unfortunately, this is not fully understandable to the director and the members of the Council of the Agency, given that their goal from the very beginning was to stop a objective monitoring and evaluation of the work of the Agency which has resulted in abolishing audio recording of the sessions, forbidding the presence of interested parties and an ad hoc defining of the criteria for participation in work which is not foreseen by the Rules of Procedure. Therefore, we consider that the Agency should pay due attention to the implementation of the law and bylaws, and not be persistent in attempts of their circumvention.

Remark: Clicking on the links below you can find our publication as well as the comments of the Agency

dr. Jovana MAROVIĆ

Research coordinator

Case study: Happy New Agency!

Agency’s comments to our case study

Germia Hill Conference 2016

Milena Milošević, public policy researcher at Institute alternative, has participated at the Germia Hill Conference 2016, held on February 2nd and 3rd in Prishtina. The conference organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo in conjuction with Aspen Institute Germany offered a framework to explicate a complex geopolitical landscape from a South East European perspective.

NATO continues to remain the only collective security aspiration; however, just like the rest of Europe, the countries of South East Europe all share the same concerns and are not immune from contemporary foreign policy and security challenges. Being confronted with a new armed conflict in Ukraine and an escalating war in Syria South East Europe continues to face numerous challenges in the context of Euro-Atlantic integration.

The conference brought together around 200 guests from 40 countries from variuos field of work and interest: high-level decision-makers and experts in the field of foreign and security policies, public policy researchers and media representatives who elaborated on solutions for current challenges, from the perspective of South East Europe; a region that due to its geographical position and its ongoing transition and reform processes is left particularly vulnerable to the security challenges the entire European continent is facing.

Improve cooperation with NGOs in order to increase the quality of e-public services

Our representative Milica Milonjić participated at the meeting with the NGOs entitled “Modalities of cooperation for improvement of the eGovernment portal (eUprava) and presentation of e-services” organized by the Ministry of Information Society and Telecommunications.

Milica pinpointed the main obstacles in the area of service delivery:

  • Civil servants do not accept changes in the workflow and refuse to start using electronic system of service delivery;
  • Public authorities are not interested in setting up services at the eGovernment portal;
  • Small number of available services at the levels 3 and 4 allowing two-way communication and transaction [1];
  • Electronic document management system (eDMS) is not used in full capacity in all the ministries while in some instances its implementation is held back at the level of managerial staff [2];
  • Failure to comply with the deadline set under the Law on Electronic Government for providing the data necessary for establishment of the Unified information system for electronic data exchange among state authorities and public administration bodies;
  • Procedures for data exchange among state authorities and public administration bodies are not clearly defined, and consequently many public administration authorities collect huge amount of additional data which originally comes under jurisdiction of other authorities;
  • A significant number of registries is still kept in the manner which is not appropriate to the new technological age. Namely, the data entry is done by hand and, thus, does not support the electronic exchange and processing;
  • The price of issuing digital certificates is not cost-effective due to a small number of available services at the levels 3 and 4.

Additionally, she pointed out that service delivery in two key areas for citizens and businesses – e-Health and e-Procurement is not at the satisfactory level. Furthermore, she stated that it is necessary to provide equal conditions and opportunities for the use of e-services and the Internet for the entire population and that one way of achieving this goal is to improve digital literacy of citizens.

The opening remarks at the meeting were delivered by Mr. Stevan Ljumović, Managing Director of the Directorate for Electronic Government at the Ministry while the services available at the eGovernment portal were presented by Ms. Vesna Simonović, chief administrator of the portal.

At the meeting, it was announced that in the forthcoming period the focus will be placed on promoting the eGovernment portal, increasing the number of available e-services that will have widespread use, as well as on improving digital literacy of citizens, government officials, together with representatives of the media, NGOs, and businesses.

[1] Service at the level 3 enables two-way communication, including interactive filling of forms (e-forms) and registration with authentication (by filling out the form a specific service is initiated – e.g. document delivery to the user’s address) while service at the level 4 provides transaction, which implies complete processing of the case with online payment services, and feedback to the user.

[2] eDMS operates in full capacity in nine ministries, although production is established in all ministries. Under the Public Administration Reform Strategy 2016-2020, which is in the drafting process, it is planned for the eDMS to be implemented in all ministries by the end of 2016, after which its implementation will begin in other administrative authorities.

New project – Monitoring Freedom of Assembly in the Western Balkans

There is an increased government crackdown on assembly in the Western Balkans, without consistent awareness, monitoring and mapping the issues. Organisations participating in the project have identified threats to the right to freedom of assembly, and found that there is a lack of understanding of the legal framework, international standards and its implementation.

The objective of our project is to design and pilot a research for monitoring the legal framework and practical implementation of the right to freedom of assembly in 5 countries (Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia). In order to increase understanding of how this freedom is applied and how it can be protected, project leader, European Centre for Non-profit Law (ECNL) has established a cooperation with research centers: Institute alternative, conducting the research in Montenegro, and research organisations: REACTOR in Macedonia, Civil Rights Defenders in Bosnia, Human Rights House in Croatia and YUCOM in Serbia.

Using the methodology specifically developed for this project, the research will be conducted in the first half of 2016, producing five country reports, as well as a short regional summary of all countries’ findings. ECNL and partners will develop recommendations for action and advocacy safeguarding right to free assembly, for both governments and EU/donors. We will end this pilot project with a regional expert conference to discuss the outcomes and come up with an action plan for regional and in-country advocacy.

The project is made possible by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law through the Civic Space Initiative, implemented in partnership with ARTICLE 19, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, and the World Movement for Democracy.

Credits for the article: ECNL