Human resources plans of ten municipalities show that they need to hire 457 people in this and next year. However, the estimated needs for hiring are not sufficiently explained nor their effect on the implementation of the Public Administration Optimisation Plan.
Only four local self-governments have made human resources plans within the legal deadline, by the end of January (Tivat, Plužine, Danilovgrad, Golubovci) and by the end of March it was done by six more municipalities: Podgorica, Nikšić, Andrijevica, Mojkovac, Budva and Herceg Novi.
The Law on Local Self-Government, which came into force in 2018, obliged the municipalities to annually adopt the human resources plans for local government bodies and their professional and special services. Human resources plan for 2019, as well as the projections for 2020, should have been adopted within 30 days from the day of adoption of the municipal budget, ie for most of municipalities by the end of January.
Three municipalities (Kolašin, Cetinje and Plav) responded that they had not adopted Budget Decisions for this year by the end of 2018, which was the key reason for failing to adopt the human resources plan. Other municipalities responded in March that the preparation of a Human Resources Plan is in progress (Rožaje, Berane, Bar), or simply that the human resources plan is still not adopted, mainly because the reorganization of jobs is in progress in these municipalities.
By citing the reasons for the non-existence of these documents due to the ongoing reorganisation municipalities showed the lack of understanding of the essence of human resource planning and violated Law. It should primarily be a process aimed at ensuring the proper organization of work and ensuring that the appropriate number of people with the right skills respond to the short-term and long-term goals of the functioning of services at the local level.
Furthermore, municipalities, that have adopted Human Resources Plans, applied a formalistic approach in implementing Law, without elaborating the needs for hiring. Additionally, there is no provided detailed information on the current situation, and there is the uncertainty of the data presented in plan.
For example, the municipality of Tivat says that there will be hiring of 60 employees in 2019 and 2002 (39 contracts for an indefinite period of time and 21 for a fixed term), if there is a need for them, which implies that the human resources plan is not based on needs assessment.
Regarding the needs for hiring there are some municipalities that especially stand out: the municipality of Podgorica needs 100 new employees, Herceg Novi 92, Tivat 79 and Budva 77.
Capitals’ Human Resources Plan shows the need for hiring 100 employees in the current and next year, while on the other hand plan is to reduce the number of 14 employees in the Secretariat for Local Self-Government after concluding an agreement with Golubovci and Tuzi municipalities. Other municipalities did not mentioned in their HR Plans whether the number of employees will be reduced in the next two years, except for information regarding the number of civil servants and employees who will fulfill the conditions for retirement, in total 17 of them in 10 municipalities. Also, a number of necessary officers relate to the appointment of managers who are currently in the positions of acting officers.
Human Resource Planning and Optimisation Plan
The Government has recently published a Report on the Implementation of Public Administration Optimisation Plan. The plan was adopted in July last year with the aim of reducing the number of employees at the local level for 609 by 2020. In the preparation phase of the Plan, we have pointed out that the top-down optimisation process based on indicators that do not meet individual needs and plans, has little chance of success. The government, however, has retained the approach that the plan applies equally to everything, allowing for certain ad hoc exceptions.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the Report on the implementation of Public Administration Optimisation Plan does not include a review of the dynamics of human resources planning at the local level nor of the data collected within the development of personnel plans for this year. According to the Report, the number of employees at the local level in the period from September 1 to December 31, 2018 decreased by 291, but these data are mainly based on municipal responses to questionnaires, thus are largely disputable.
From the presentation of the information contained in the local Human Resources Plans, there is a possibility that the effects of the reduction, even if it occurred, will be shaken by new hiring. Therefore, with the aim of long-term optimisation of public administration, more attention should be paid to harmonising the implementation of the Optimisation Plan and the new legal obligations regarding human resources planning.
Monitoring of this process by the IA so far shows that the only sustainable way to optimise is a more serious analysis of the Rulebook on Internal Organisation and Systematisation of all administrative bodies in order to eliminate those jobs for which there is no real need. Otherwise, even if a certain number of employees stop working in the public administration, judging by the experience so far, they will be replaced by others, as their work places remain vacant.
Institute Alternative will continue to monitor human resources planning and human resources management both at central and local level within the project ‘’FAR – Evidence for Better Administrative Reform’’, with the support of the European Union through Sector Budget Support Instrument. The aim of the project is to contribute to the establishment of a more transparent, efficient and service-oriented public administration in Montenegro, with the specific objective of strengthening the monitoring role of civil society in the implementation of the Public Administration Reform Strategy 2016 – 2020 in key areas.