Organized by Transparency International, the conference “Priorities in the fight against corruption in BiH” was held in the “Evropa” hotel in Sarajevo, in which the US ambassador Michael J. Murphy, the Swedish ambassador Johanna Stromquist and the head of the EU delegation Johann Sattler participated.

The state coordinator for public administration reform, Assoc. Dr. Dragan Ćuzulan spoke in a panel discussion on the topic “Anti-corruption priorities for the candidate status of Bosnia and Herzegovina” about good governance as one of the key conditions.

“At the beginning of the panel, we would refer to the recommendations from the Good Governance Agenda regarding the functional audit of the public sector and public administration (document attached), and what PARCO has done so far in relation to fulfilling previous recommendations related to the reorganization of public administration and ‘cutting administration’.

As a first step, Agenda 2025 proposes an in-depth review of public administration, and we agree that a functional review would be a good start. If we look back, we will see that the functional reviews were the basis for the preparation of the first public administration reform strategy and the beginning of the reform. Since then, a lot of time has passed and numerous changes have taken place, and it would be good to see what the key shortcomings are today. In addition to the known issues – fragmentation of the system that affects efficiency and costs, through the functional reviews conducted by the World Bank in two areas, through a project financed by the European Union, it is observed, for example, the absence of mechanisms for measuring results, the absence of performance measurement, and using such results to create better policies. There are also shortcomings in the quality of services provided, which, for example, in the case of education, lead to consequences for the development of human capital in society. Therefore, the focus proposed by Agenda 2025 is relevant”, said Dragan Ćuzulan.

He notes that one of the key requirements of the SIGMA Principles of Public Administration is that the overall government organization should be rational, follow adequate policies and regulations, enable adequate control and accountability, and this principle is embedded in strategic documents for public administration reform.

“If we look at the last SIGMA report, we will see that the key short-term recommendations are: further development of legislation on the organization of public administration, establishing a clear connection between the types of public bodies and the functions they perform, performance and degree of autonomy, as well as promoting managerial responsibility through the introduction of the principle of delegation of authority for decision-making within the ministries. These are short-term recommendations from the SIGMA report. We expect that a project funded by the European Union will begin in the middle of next year, and it will contribute to the implementation of these recommendations. Some of the results should be – an improved legislative framework on the organization of management at all levels in the segments that were not sufficiently developed, as SIGMA observed, we also expect further strengthening of awareness of managerial responsibility, and also the preparation of a plan to ensure further changes in (re)organization of public administration. It would be useful for civil society to get involved in the implementation of these activities and formulate its proposals during the process of drafting documents,” said Ćuzulan.

Another topic we would like to touch on is the European Commission Report, which emphasized that the Strategic Framework for Public Administration Reform and the accompanying Action Plan are poorly implemented, that there has been no political support so far, and that the financial sustainability of the reform, which is mainly financed by donors, has not been ensured. In this regard, how to ensure these deficiencies and provide their support?

“With taking over responsibilities and obligations related to the candidate status of Bosnia and Herzegovina by the newly formed authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina at all levels, it is expected that the lack of political will will significantly and fundamentally improve. The preparation of the most important information about the needs in the field of public administration reforms so that the new authorities could have them at the very beginning, has already been done and that is the obligation of our Office. Furthermore, the recent extension of the Strategic Framework and the accompanying Action Plan have created planning preconditions for the continuation of the reform. The documents that define the coordination structure which is necessary for the effective guide and management of the reform process, as well as the documents for financial support related to the Public Administration Reform Fund, including the increased allocation of our authorities, have been finalized – their adoption by the new governments needs to be completed,” explains the state coordinator for public administration reform.

What would be PARCO’s recommendations and what does PARCO consider necessary to do in order to ensure the future efficient implementation of recommendations and reorganization of the administration?

“Regarding our recommendations, it is enough to look at the latest European Commission Report, which suggests that excessive discretionary space for administrative restructuring should be narrowed without considering the justification and cost-effectiveness of such changes. Also, ambiguities regarding supervision or hierarchical structure between ministries and subordinate institutions need to be clarified. SIGMA suggests determining the obligation of ministries to define goals and deadlines for subordinate bodies, but also to ensure resources for their realization and regularly monitor performance. Of course, these changes must be accompanied by the improvement of the performance-oriented planning system, but also by adequate measures to improve the management of human resources. We agree with the systemic approach suggested by Agenda 2025. An in-depth review of the administration, with an analysis of the time frame, can give us a clear picture of the situation, indicate a multitude of shortcomings, provide room for further improvements and, most importantly, facilitate decision-making on further (re)organization of the administration, and thereby reduce the space for political influence”, explained Ćuzulan.

At the conference, it was pointed out that the paralysis of institutions caused by systemic political corruption managed by the highest holders of public functions, brought Bosnia and Herzegovina to a situation of complete captivity of political, social and economic processes.