The 12th session of the Public Administration Reform Council was held on Friday, June 19. The session was chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister for Political System, Interior and Foreign Policy, Zoran Pažin.
Among others, on the Council’s agenda also were:
- Report on the Work of Public Administration Reform Council for 2019 year,
- 2019 Report on Implementation of the Action Plan for the Public Administration Reform Strategy for the period 2018-2020,
- 2019 Report on the Implementation of the Action Plan for the Public Finance Management Reform Programme for the period 2018-2020.
We expressed our dissatisfaction with the fact that more than a year has passed since the last session of the Council (the 11th session was held in May 2019). Meanwhile, initiatives to hold sessions initiated by the members of civil society were not accepted. Council has not discussed important documents such as the Semiannual Report on the Implementation of the Public Administration Reform Strategy, reports on optimisation and others. Council also has not discussed about events related to the loss of funds from the sector budget support, nor on the issues important to the public administration reform, such as proposed amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information.
We pointed out the need to change the way the Council works, in order to fulfil its role of coordinating reform processes and meaningfully contribute to the implementation of the Public Administration Reform Strategy.
In addition to the detailed findings on the public administration reform, that we published in March this year, we also pointed out methodological problems in reporting and monitoring activities and meeting objectives as well. We especially emphasised the importance of objectively informing public about the success of public administration reform, measured by the percentage of funds withdrawn from the sector budget support. We also stressed as important need to inform the public about the reasons why we received only half of the possible EU support.
In terms of implementing the Public Financial Management Reform Programme, almost five years passed waiting for major EU projects to begin, while areas such as transparency of public finances and transition to performance-based budgeting remained at the same level as when the Programme was adopted. We especially pointed out the problem of the inaction of Property Administration and the delays in the establishment of the unified state property register. According to the report, the register will be in the test phase only next year.
This year, three key documents for public administration reform expires – Public Administration Reform Strategy, Public Financial Management Reform Programme and Public Administration Optimisation Plan.
We need to learn from the failures of these documents in order to prepare the following documents so that they are feasible, meaningful and responsive to the citizens’ needs.