Integrity of Recruitment in State Authorities: Assessment of Abilities or Partisanship?

This analysis covers the assessment procedure of the candidates for jobs with state authorities, as the segment that will define the course of further development of Montenegrin state administration, setting it either toward further politicisation or toward professionalisation, as a proclaimed objective of the current Public Administration Reform Strategy.

Research has pointed to the presence of regulatory and practical problems that jeopardise the integrity of the assessment panels and the overall testing procedure, which affects implementation of the principles of merit-based recruitment in state authorities.

The key improvement consists in enabling candidates to perform testing by electronic means, since this type of “automatization” of procedures diminishes potential undue favoritism of certain candidates in this phase of the recruitment. However, there are no guarantees of political impartiality of the assessment panels’ members selected from the ranks of professionals. The state authority that is recruiting is solely responsible for designing the practical tests, which leaves room for some candidates to be favoured and essentially implies that the roles of individual panel members are not identical.

On the other hand, external scrutiny of the quality of implementation of the assessment by the civil society is hampered by the HRMA denying access to copies of tests and minutes from interviews. Only access to general assessment reports is provided, which do not enable insight into specific tasks, questions and answers provided. Lack of transparency, together with some legal shortcomings, does not signal substantial progress towards establishment of a merit-based system in the Montenegrin administration. This is in particular so given that the new Law does not envisage mandatory hiring of the candidates who ended up as top-ranked after the assessment. Subsequent under-regulated conversations with the shortlisted candidates do not constitute a formal part of the assessment, although they may prove decisive in the selection process.

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