In 2013, at least 476 persons were recruited for job positions in state administration bodies, in line with the new Law on Civil Servants and State Employees and procedures which entail obligation of oral and written testing. More than half of these vacancies were filled by internal announcements. In most of the cases, ranking lists for selection of the job candidates were composed only from one candidate.
Human Resources Management Authority, the most relevant authority for the implementation of vacancy announcements, regularly published the qualification assessment results and thus facilitated monitoring of application of the new rules. However, authorities lacked readiness for the implementation of the new Law. Until January 1, 2014, data for only one third of civil servants and state employees, falling under the scope of this Law, were submitted to the Central Human Resources Register.
Legal status of fixed term employees in state administration was not adequately resolved before the Law started implementing. Job security of these employees is thus severely endangered. In 2013, Ministry of Interior had 500 fixed-term employees although the Law allows this kind of employment only in exceptional circumstances. More than third of these employees will lose their jobs, because they fail to meet eligibility criteria for positions they currently occupy.
At least two state administration authorities, Education Bureau and Agency for Environmental Protection, concluded employee transfer agreements with the agency for employment mediation. They have thus circumvented obligatory testing procedures and breached the Law.
Five people appealed against recruitment procedures in state administration authorities over the previous year. The three appeals against the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Finance and Agency for Environmental Protection were upheld. Decisions on upholding these appeals suggest the inconsistencies in ensuring funds for filling of vacancies and disrespect of eligibility criteria for a job position. The rejected appeals namely tackled the qualification assessment of the candidates but they also pinpointed the confusion caused by the re-organisation of Montenegrin state administration.
Based on the analysis of the majority of recruitment, it is impossible to determine whether the candidate with the highest ranking has been selected. Performance appraisal in state administration authorities is also inadequate as demonstrated by Administration for prevention of money laundering and financing of terrorism, whose all employees, without exemption, were given an excellent grade.
With an aim of ensuring the consistent implementation of the Law, it is thus necessary to implement measures against abuse and circumvention of the new rules. Institutional capacities should be improved, as well as the procedures for selecting the candidates.
Instead of conclusion: The main challenges of implementation of new recruitment and promotion procedures
New recruitment and promotion rules brought some progress in terms of obligatory and more closely regulated qualification assessment for entering the civil service and in terms of the availability of the assessment results. On the other hand, the first year of the LCSSE implementation demonstrated many deficiencies, such as unresolved legal status of fixed-term employees and circumvention of the stricter procedures for filling the vacancies.
Key challenges in implementation of the new recruitment and promotion procedures entail:
- Employment mediation, which represents direct infringement of the Law; during 2013 at least two state authorities concluded agreements with employment mediation agency;
- Inadequate composition of the Commissions which are tasked with the assessment of qualifications of candidates for job positions in state authorities; these bodies are usually comprised from the independent experts whose competences are not relevant for the particular vacant job position;
- Role of the state authorities in distribution of the practical part of the test, whose score is most crucial for selection of the candidates;
- Incomplete Central Human Resources Register, which contains only third of the civil servants and state employees who fall under the scope of the Law; in other words, there is no enough information to ensure adequate human resources planning and to ensure insight into the expert and working skills of civil servants and state employees;
- Poor competitiveness of filling the vacancies, illustrated by the majority of ranking lists being comprised only from one candidate;
- Vague explanation of the recruitment decisions, failing to provide ranking and other criteria upon which the certain candidate was selected;
- Lack of transparency in application of the new rules;
- Arbitrary performance appraisal which results in largely uniform grades for all the employees in a state administration authority;
- Delays in adoption of the by-laws necessary for the implementation of the Law on Civil Servants and State Employees;
- Insufficient administrative capacities of Human Resources Management Authority and Administrative Inspection, key institutions for implementation and monitoring of the Law on Civil Servants and State Employees.
Recommendations for prevention of abuses:
- Administrative Inspection, State Audit Institution and judiciary should undertake necessary actions in order to determine the actual scope of LCSSE violation, with special focus on curtailing employment mediation practices.
- All state authorities should comply with the provisions of the Law on free access to information, publish and regularly update lists of their employees with the job titles and internal announcements within the state authority.
- With an aim of preventing abuse of legal possibility to temporarily move a civil servant or state employee to a different job position or to a different state authority, the ammendment to the LCSSE should clearly specify rights and duties of civil servants and state employees and state authorities upon the expiration of this temporary period.
- State authorities should issue employees’ grades within the legally prescribed deadline, along with the detailed explanation which follows the criteria and benchmarks of performance appraisal as they are defined by the LCSSE and the Decree on the criteria and method of performance appraisal of civil servants and state employees.
- All state authorities should undertake filling of vacancies only if they had previously secured the necessary financial means.
- Reports on inspection oversight of recruitment and promotion in state authorities should be publically available on web page of Ministry of Interior.
- HRMA and state authorities should ensure equal treatment of job candidates applying; candidates who fail to meet the criteria of the announcement should not be allowed to go through the testing and selection procedures.
- HRMA and Ministry of Interior should organise the informative campaigns in order to raise public awareness about rights and duties of civil servants and state employees and job candidates.
Recommendations for selection of the candidates:
- Heads of state authorities should clearly state the reasons for selection of the certain servant or employee and his or hers ranking in the explanation of the recruitment decision. If the candidate with the highest ranking had not been recruited, the reasons of not doing so should be clearly stated.
- With an aim of further delimiting the discretion of heads of state authorities in the recruitment and promotion of civil servants and state employees, Government should bring special guidelines which would define the reasons for not selecting a candidate with the highest ranking (e.g. because he or she gave up or has been selected to a different job position, or because the other candidate has performed exceptionally during the assessment of special qualifications required for a particular job position).
- Recommendations for qualification assessment:
- With an aim of increasing objectivity of the qualifications assessment, state authorities and HRMA should implement the recommendation of the Ministry of Interior which suggested that the number of practical tests should be submitted to the HRMA, which will be in charge of further random distribution of these tests to the job candidates.
- Given the poor response of experts to participate in the commissions for qualification assessment, HRMA should put an additional effort and directly call all the relevant professional organisations, academic community and other representatives of civil, private and public sectors to delegate the experts for taking part in these commissions.
- Objective, professional and planning approach towards the qualification assessment is needed, and it should entail preparation of concrete tasks and questions which would be included in the qualification assessment plans.