Government recruiting without any plans ahead

Human resource (HR) planning should answer to the important questions regarding how much staff is necessary for our state administration and in which positions. However, in the first year of implementation of the Public Administration Reform Strategy, the Government failed to provide these answers.

Half a year after the Government adopted a decision to urgently adopt the HR Plan for 2017, this document was not prepared.

That is how both the Government and the general public remained without answers to the questions:

  • how many people are currently working in state administration bodies and in the General Secretariat of the Government;
  • how many jobs and positions are systematized, that is, prescribed by the rulebooks on internal organization and systematization of state administration bodies and the General Secretariat of the Government;
  • how many people and in which positions should be recruited this year.
    HR planning is the instrument that should recognize future needs in performing jobs at certain positions and comprehensively analyze available resources and human resources in regard to those needs.
    In the context of the accession to the European Union, this instrument is particularly important because it should enable relation with the fulfilment of the Montenegro’s Accession Program to the European Union, ie, with projections of the necessary personnel that should implement demanding obligations in the negotiations process.
    Additionally, the adoption of the HR plan is an explicit obligation prescribed by the Law on Civil Servants and State Employees.

However, the Information adopted by the Government in February states that the Human Resources Management Authority is not in a position to prepare a plan, inter alia, because certain ministries (Ministry of European affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign affairs, Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Transport and Maritime Affairs) failed to adopt the rulebooks on systematization or have failed to align them with the new Decree on the organization and manner of work of the state administration.

The Government has concluded that the plan should be urgently prepared by the end of March, but this has not been done to date.
The Government’s HR plan for 2016 was adopted with a significant delay, in June last year. By adopting it with delay, the document has been left with no possibility of influencing budget planning, but at least it disclosed key figures when it comes to state administration.

What is especially worrisome is the fact that in the first year of implementation of the Public Administration Reform Strategy until 2020 such important document has not been prepared and presented to the public, although this Strategy sets the optimization of the number of employees in public administration as one of its top priorities.

In the recently published report “Public Administration Reform: How Far Is 2020?”, prepared with the support of the European Union within the project “Civil Society for Good Governance: To Act and Account!”, Institute Alternative warned of the poor implementation of strategic activities.

During the first 11 months of implementation of the Strategy, 60% of the activities were not carried out within the deadline.

Milena Milošević
Public Policy Researcher

Public statement on the session of the Public Administration Reform Council

The second session of the Public Administration Reform Council was held yesterday in Podgorica, in which I participated as a member, on behalf of the Institute Alternative

I abstained from voting on the conclusions of the Council for the adoption of the Report on the Implementation of the PAR Strategy and Action Plan for the period 2016 – 2017.

I did not support the adoption of Report for both procedural and substantive reasons, which I have pointed out in addressing the members of the Council. I also requested the public and recipients of our conclusions to be informed about it.

However, in an official statement from the Council’s session, there is no information that I did not support the adoption of the report, despite the Vice President Pažin’s assurance that the public would be informed about my stand on the issue.

This Deputy Prime Minister’s failure to keep up to his promise, will not contribute to the further work of this Council and the participation of NGOs.

In addition, this report, as announced at the session of the Council, is not prepared for the Montenegrin Government nor will the Government adopt it. It was prepared on the European Commission’s request.

For these reasons, and in order to contribute to the transparency of the reform process, the Institute Alternative will publish this Report on its web page so that the public and citizens can get more information on the course of the reform.

Bearing in mind that only 5 out of 15 overdue measures foreseen by the Action Plan have been implemented, I have pointed out the need to individualize the responsibility for non-fulfillment of the measures.

The report only speaks in several places about the reasons and causes of poor realization. The least clear was the information on how far has come realization of the obligations in the field of development and coordination of public policies, which were supposed to be implemented by the Ministry of European Affairs.

The report unreservedly accepts the explanation of the Agency for Personal Data Protection and Free Access to Information that it could not verify whether ministries are proactively publishing information. This is, however, a simple website search activity that does not require special capacities.

The report contains inaccurate allegations such as that the Government could not adopt two annual reports on the implementation of the Decree on Cooperation between State Administration and NGOs and on Public Hearings, arguing that the Council for NGO development had not functioned, so the Government could not adopt these reports without Council’s advice. This is a pure counterfeit of the actual situation and sequence of events.

The report does not even contain the latest information in the field of public finance management, nor does it explain why we still do not have a state property register. Also, many data from the area of provision of services to citizens are provided in a form and manner that does not explain the actual situation and lead to the wrong optimistic conclusions about the results in this area.

I have pointed out that the measure “adoption of the Amendment to the Law on Free Access to Information” cannot be taken as a realized activity, nor one could claim that it has improved access to information when this law in effect restricts access by extending the scope of exemptions.

It is of high concern that it is uncritically stated in the Report that Montenegro is highly rated in the United Nations Research on e-Participation, claiming that Montenegro is in the top 25 countries in the world because of the use of online public consultations.

First of all, we know that e-consultations in Montenegro do not exist, but also the activity – “development of technical specifications for e-consultations “, the central government’s internet platform for public consultations and discussions, that was supposed to be implemented in the frame of a project supported by the European Union is not realized due to the lack of Government support. For these reasons, I have asked for more information on this UN research, methodology, specific data on Montenegro and sources of information.

Stevo Muk

President of the Managing Board

Download the Report on the Implementation of the Action Plan for the PAR Strategy 2016-2020, for the July 2016-July 2017 period (only in Montenegrin)

New “mass“ hirings in the run up to the elections

Today, The Ministry of Interior (MOI) published a public call for “Police Training” for 60 trainees that graduated from high school and are preparing for immediate employment in the Police – despite all the strategic documents adopted by the Government.

Namely, Government documents (Strategy for Development of the Police Directorate, Action Plan for its implementation and Analysis of the Current State of Play, Recruitment, Promotion, Education and Training of Police Officers) indicate surplus of the Police employees as well as the need to not hire police officers with a level of education lower than Police Academy. They state precisely that laws need to be amended so that the lowest level of education qualification prescribed is the Academy and not a high school.

The MOI call is particularly surprising given that the competition for Police Academy participants was completed in July. If there was a real need for 60 new officials in the Police, they had to attend the regular Police Academy instead of this “urgent training”. With this, Academy that lasts for two years and offers 21 courses and 1475 classes is devaluated, and its students put in the same rank as those attending this “training” that will last 320 classes.

The public call published by the MOI lasts only 8 days, suggesting that it has already been decided who will be attending it, especially considering that the last competition for the Academy lasted 35 days and was followed by the marketing activities in order to attract the best candidates which now, obviously, is not a goal.

In addition, candidates who are not admitted to training have the right to appeal within 24 hours, on which the Minister of Interior will also decide within 24 hours – which demonstrates again the urgency of the MOI to employ 60 high school graduates, without any experience, without knowledge of human rights, and which will exercise police powers, including force, over citizens.

In the period 2006-2016, the Police Academy schooled 235 students and always addressed the MOI/ Police Directorate with the request to determine the number of candidates for the Academy enrollment for each school year. The academy has trained, 50 candidates in 2015 and 2016 respectively, while this year they will train 40. Total education of the Academy attendant costs the state 15,000 euros. Hence, the need for 60 new police officers, besides the 40 that will be regularly educated ought to be held in the utmost suspicion. To state the obvious, the 43 attendants of the last generation of the Police Academy that graduated in July this year can be hired if really needed.

It will be interesting to see if after this training, when a public call for employment of 60 police officers is published, Police Academy graduates with two years of education will be hired, or training participants who had studied the same subject matter for only three months.

Finally, the Director of the Police, in all his public statements, stressed that the Police lacks experienced staff capable of working on complex investigations of organized crime, rather than junior police officers (without proper police education) – which are important, but at this moment cannot answer the security challenges present in our country.

According to official statistics, Montenegro has a low crime rate and a very high number of police officers. In Croatia, where crime rate is 12 times higher than in MNE and Slovenia where crime rate is 8 times higher than in MNE, according to UN data, the number of police officers per 100,000 population is 380 and 477 respectively, while in MNE it is 677. Still, it seems that even this number is not enough, and despite all the Government’s intentions to rationalize public administration and reach the optimum number of employees, another 60 citizens will live from the state budget.

Dina Bajramspahic
Public policy researcher

Citizens Unprepared to Report Police Corruption

Citizens trust the police, but consider it to be significantly corrupted. Their readiness to report police corruption cases is declining according to the research conducted for the third year in a row within the regional network POINTPULSE

The results of the public opinion research on police in Montenegro was presented today in Podgorica by Institute alternative.

Milena Milošević said that the trust in police is stable and that a growth was noted from 58% to 66%, since 2015 when the first research was conducted.

The number of citizens who believe that the police least serves their interest also declined from 62% in 2015 to 40% in 2017.

However, Milošević emphasized that the citizens simultaneously consider the corruption to be significantly present within the police, which contradicts the relatively high level of trust in this institution.

“More than half of citizens (57%) consider the corruption in police to be present to some or highest extent“, she emphasized.

The citizens also note politicisation and nepotism when it comes to recruitment in the police: they think that recruitment rarely occurs via regular public vacancy announcements (43%) and more often via friend and family connections (51%) or via political connections (44%). “The citizens of Montenegro are still not ready to report police corruption cases“, Milošević added, by which, according to her, Montenegro confirmed its spot among those countries where corruption reporting is least socially acceptable.
Within the three-years timespan a trend of decline is noted – from 48% of citizens who stated they would not report a police corruption case if they had to provide personal information, to 62% of citizens who declared the same in 2017.

Dina Bajramspahić emphasized that the citizens’ perception, their subjective opinion of police, is affected by different factors. She stated that this is why IA will prepare a comprehensive study by the end of the year, which will deal with this issue using qualitative research in order to analyse to what extent the police resist the illegal and unethical conduct of police officers.

The conclusion of the event was that the Police Administration, the Ministry of Interior and the Agency for Prevention of Corruption should conduct a comprehensive campaign to promote reporting of police corruption cases.

Institute Alternative considers that the current recruitment reform in the police, conducted by the Ministry of interior, should deal with the issues of politicisation and nepotism and secure a more widespread discussion on organisation and promotion of public vacancy announcements as the main way to get recruited by the police.

The fieldwork in Montenegro was conducted by IPSOS Strategic Marketing using “face to face“ interview technique in June 2017 on the representative sample of 1000 of adults.

POINTPULSE is a European Union Funded project, conducted by Belgrade Centre for Security Policy, Institute for Democracy and Mediation, Centre for Security Studies, Kosovo Centre for Security Studies, Analytica, Institute Alternative and Balkan Investigative Reporting Network.

The videos from the event are available here:

Institute Alternative Team

All our Failures

Stevo MukWe mark the tenth anniversary of the foundation of Institute alternative this month. We started from zero. It took us five years to become a relatively stable organization and it took us ten years to secure a place among the most active and most prominent organisations with 10 employees.

It is very difficult to talk about accomplishments and failures when it comes to our areas of work, given that much of it does not depend on our personal efforts but on the will of those who hold the power. Therefore, it would not be fair to take pride in semi-accomplishments, nor to misinterpret changes made as our own accomplishments. This anniversary, which our small team is gleeful about, represents an opportunity to question the changes made, what could have been done better or differently, and the ways our stakeholders could have helped more and impede less. The existing problems of this country and its society represent the core reason of our existence and our dedicated work, and as much as we would like to see and praise the good in what the authorities do, it is our professional commitment to deal with systemic flaws, key issues and bad practices and finally discuss these issues in public. This is the reason why we want to point towards the state of affairs in our programme areas. An opposite approach would be contradictory to our endeavours to push forward changes and not allowing the superficial changes and declarations convince us that we have reached far in our mission.

We witnessed as participants and observers of the public administration reform efforts the Government’s failure to achieve it. Today, there is still an excess number of employees in futile positions, and fewer employees in the most essential positions. The budgetary funds allocated for the administration on all levels could somewhat be reduced or better spent. The financial situation within the municipalities has come down to vain transfers from state budget to the empty local budgets. The recruitment procedure is somewhat regulated when it comes to the state administration, but the ministers still have a final say, while recruitment, appraisal and promotion of the public sector is left at the mercy of the discretionary will of politically powerful people.

The drafting of strategies and laws is still done without taking advantage of the wholesome potential and knowledge of the interested parties in the society, while the needs of those who are the end beneficiaries are not even considered. Even the newest analytical techniques that are being introduced do not guarantee that the mistakes worth tens of millions will be avoided in the future within the Government and the Parliament.

While we are persistently and regularly put through the vicious circle of going through agencies to courts and back in our pursuit for free access of information, the amended law introduced even more limitations. We are still at the very beginning of open-data, and citizens still do not have free access to wholesome texts of laws and other legal acts online.

The supervision of the security sector exists only on paper, while the system of accountability is still not functional in practice. The interior control of the police, and especially of the Agency for National Security represent merely a décor, instead of serving as a mechanism for proactive investigation of those civil servants who have misused their positions. The prosecutors and judges are still not held accountable for their illegal actions, which consequently means that public officials are allowed to do the same. Financial investigations’ results are still not in sight, and money laundering investigations can come as true exceptions. The police and the prosecution are still not proactive in the fight against corruption and organised crime, and Special Prosecutor’s Office is trapped in the labyrinth of political-intelligence spectacle upon the alleged coup d’état when it comes the partial success of the Budva case.

10 godina IA

Perfect opportunities are missed when it comes to using the potential of the parliamentary supervision through the cases of three parliamentary investigations and a dozen of control hearings, in the atmosphere of the obstruction of the parliamentary majority and the drifting of opposition MPs.

It is essential for these mechanisms not be used under the “more is better“ clause when the Parliament starts working in its full capacity, but rather to be used efficiently in concrete cases, and the capacity building of the MPs and their professional support should be further invested in.

We have been waiting for eight years to get access to the state property register, given that we have no idea what the state owns. Today, the State Audit Institution, which we have supported with great attention and optimism all these years, is greatly challenged to keep its independence and integrity after all its heights and progress, obtaining reputation and influence, and the multiannual obstruction of appointment of the members of its Senate.

Tens of millions of the current budgetary reserve is annually distributed without supervision and in secrecy – the public must not know to whom and for what use.

The public procurement system, which is established to stimulate competition and reduce the prices, fifty companies gain more than a half of the entire annual value of public procurement. While on average two bidders apply to one tender, which is half the number from five years ago, and while the prices of procurement grow extensively, the medicines represent the best example.

After four years, we have been able to confirm the devastation of the entire concept of the budgetary inspection, while the results of interior audit are weak or invisible, whose work (or rather lack of it) is unjustifiably declared secret. Beside better access to budget information on our portals and, citizens rarely participate in formally organised discussions on budget proposals. Even though the advanced base of “social card“ is introduced, social allocations are still misused both at the state and at the local levels. Everything we did, we did in this country and for this society, with all our flaws and weaknesses. Us, the way we are, with all of our personal and organisational limitations. To say that what we do is the most important thing in the world is the last thing on our minds. Yet again, we believe that the questions and the problems that we chose to deal with reasonably and objectively reflect the reality of Montenegro.

Our accomplishments and failures in the future will depend also from you, the readers, the politicians’ and state officials’ will, political parties’ understanding, focus and priority of the media, cooperation with other civil society actors and citizens’ support.

Stevo Muk
President of the Managing Board