“Ad hoc“ and unregulated competitions for acting positions in ministries unnecessarily postpone lawful recruitments and reduce managerial accountability in ministries. „Acting managers“ are more susceptible to influences due to insecurity of their position and employment.
These competitions are currently announced for 20 acting general directors in the Ministry of Finance and Social Welfare. Earlier, they were also announced by the Ministry of Public Administration, Digital Society and Media and the Ministry of Capital Investment.
The first question that arises is why these ministries did not fulfil their legal obligation by creating conditions for the implementation of the legally prescribed procedure for conducting a public competition. The law does not recognise the institute of “competition“ for acting positions, but only the procedure of public competition for heads of administration bodies and senior civil service, which includes general directors and secretaries in the ministries. The acting positions are filled for the maximum period of six months, and thus represent transitional solutions until the full appointment.
By having unnecessary acting positions, senior civil service is further destabilised and vulnerable to politicisation, despite the Government’s warnings from February 2021 that “a significant outflow of experts from the negotiating structure can negatively affect on dynamics of fulfilling obligations from the EU negotiation process“.
Government has only adopted partial workforce plan at the end of July this year. Despite all the delays in the adoption of the budget and reorganisation of public administration, this document did not include 21 administration bodies and four ministries for internal affairs, defence, finance and social welfare and education, science, culture and sport. On the other hand, the law prescribes that only those positions envisaged by the workforce plans can be filled in regular recruitment procedures. As a result, senior civil servants in institutions, not covered by the workforce plan, cannot be recruited according to the procedures of the Law on Civil Servants and State Employees, which encompass public competition and assessment of skills and competencies.
Instead of working on workforce planning and more stable senior civil service positions, some ministries have announced competitions for acting positions. These competitions are announced even 10 months after the formation of the Government, serving more as an indicator of poor management than alleged transparency and openness. These personnel solutions are temporary, so resources should be used for finding more permanent solutions, in full mandate and in accordance with the law.
Transparency is also questionable, because the protection of personal data of candidates who participate in a legally unregulated procedure is a very sensitive topic. Confirmation of this is the fact that besides aggregate information on the number of candidates, applied for the acting positions in the Ministry of Public Administration, Digital Society and Media, no more information about these competitions had been disclosed.
We also point out that the recently adopted partial workforce plan is not of better quality from the previous plans. No justification for planned recruitment of 139 employees was provided. This way the Government confirmed that for now it is not ready to use the institute of workforce planning as a mechanism of much-needed optimisation of public administration.