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Serbia

Transparent Financing of Civil Society Organizations (RS0004)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Serbia First Action Plan 2014-2015

Action Plan Cycle: 2014

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Office for Cooperation with Civil Society, Ministry of public administration

Support Institution(s): Civil Society Organizations

Policy Areas

Civic Space, Fiscal Transparency, Freedom of Association, Subnational

IRM Review

IRM Report: Serbia End-of-Term Report 2014-2016

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Public Accountability

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

In relation to current state, it is neccesary to provide regular reporting on funds allocated by state administration authorities, autonomus province authorities, and local-self government units, to civil society organizations, and to strengthen the system of fiscal accountability and public information on appropriateness of budget funds allocations for financing programs of public interest. In that regard the Guide for transparent funding of associations and other civil society organizations from the local self-government budget was developed, which aims to inform local self-government on procedures, documentation required for implementation of open competition, and good practice of some local self-government units regarding transparent financing of civil society organizations. Establishing a reporting system for the allocation and use of budget funds for support programs of public interest improves the accountability of the state administration, autonomous province, and local-self government authorities, as well as accountability of civil society organizations, as beneficiaries of budget funds.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 4. Transparent financing of civil society organizations

Commitment Text:

1. Preparation of annual summary reports on the expenditure of funds to support programs and projects activities, provided and granted to associations and other civil society organizations from the public funds of the Republic of Serbia in 2013, and 2014.

            a.  Annual summary reports on expenditure of funds for 2013 and 2014 prepared, submitted to Government, adopted, published, and presented to public;

2. Introducing obligation to publishing public tenders, evaluation and ranking lists of programs, decisions on selection of programs, etc, on the e-Government Portal, as well as extension of the deadline for publication of ranking and evaluation lists to at least 5 days, in the process of allocation of budgetary resources for financing programs of public interest realized by associations.
a. Preparation and adoption of the Draft Regulation on Amendments to the Regulation;

3. Strengthening the capacities of state administration authorities in the areas of cooperation and transparent funding of civil society from budget funds

            a. Organizing training for civil servants on the implementation of the Guidelines for
the inclusion of civil society organizations

            b. Development of the Second Revised Edition of the Guide through a transparent
funding of CSOs from the budgets of local self-governments.

Responsible Institution(s): Office for Cooperation with Civil Society; Ministry of Public Administration

Supporting Institution(s): CSOs

Start Date: Quarter I 2015                                           End Date: Quarter IV 2015

 

Commitment aim:

This commitment aimed at increasing the transparency of public funding for CSOs through the publication of expenditure reports, open calls, public tenders, evaluation and ranking lists, as well as other relevant documents on the e-government portal. In addition, the commitment provides training to civil servants on how to cooperate with CSOs and on how to ensure that funding is transparent.

Status

Midterm: Limited

During the first year of implementation of the action plan, this commitment had limited completion. The preparation of annual summary reports on the expenditure of funds to support programs and projects activities lagged behind the set timeline. Moreover, there was no evidence of the summary reports on expenditure being available online at the time of writing the IRM progress report. Obligatory publishing on e-government portal was unclear, and there were no indications that implementation had begun in the first year of the action plan cycle. Lastly, while the capacity-building trainings were conducted as a part of the third commitment, the Guide for Transparent Financing was prepared only for internal use and was not formally adopted or published.

End of term: Substantial

Since the midterm report, the IRM researchers found that some progress was made on the three activities described in the commitment. Regarding the reports on annual expenditures, only the report for 2013 was published in October 2015.[Note 14: Republic of Serbia, “Consolidated Annual Report on Expenditures,” 2013, [Serbian] http://bit.ly/2cshGEJ] The report for 2014 was not available online, but government sources indicated that progress on the report has been made and that it should be published late in 2016. No evidence was found to show progress of the obligatory publishing of calls and tenders on the e-government portal. The e-government portal does not feature most of the documents envisioned in the commitment yet. Moreover, the Guide for Transparent Financing still exists only as an internal document and has not been published. The Office for Cooperation with Civil Society has the 2013 version of the guide available on its website.[Note 15: Republic of Serbia, “The Guide for Transparent Financing,” 2013, [Serbian] http://bit.ly/2gaPQux]

According to the government, 211 civil servants were trained from 70% of municipalities. Although the IRM researcher verified that the trainings happened, there is no detailed information available aside from three short paragraphs in the annual report of the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society for 2015 that indicate only the number of participants, percentage of local self-government units included, timespan, and goals of the training. The detailed report on the trainings is not available online and there is no evidence of evaluation of these trainings, nor analysis of their impact[Note 16: The website of the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society indicates that ten trainings were held between January and April 2015. However, the link for a report about these trainings does not work: theshttp://civilnodrustvo.gov.rs/%D0%BF%D0%BE%D1%87%D0%B5%D1%82%D0%BD%D0%B0.122.html (access attempted in July and September 2016, and again in January 2017). The only other available information on the trainings is in the annual report on the work of the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society for 2015, which indicates that these ten trainings encompassed 211 civil servants covering 73% of local self-government units.].

Did it open government?

Access to information: Marginal

Public accountability: Did not change

Multiple media and civil society investigations in Serbia revealed that public resources destined to fund programs in CSOs were allocated without open calls to organizations affiliated to political parties and overall lack of transparency.[Note 17: Branka Pavlovic, “Serbia: Transparency in Spending Local Public Funds for CSOs Activities,” Reports, Technical Assistance for Civil Society Organizations (TASCO), 6 September 2011, http://tacso.org/documents/reports/?id=5316 ] Given that the progress of implementation of this commitment has been largely internal, for example the 2014 report and revised Guide were not published, nor were there any reports on the success of the civil servants trainings, this commitment had only a marginal effect on access to information in terms of the greater number of publicly available documents such as the 2013 expenditure report and trainings provided to civil servants.

Regarding public accountability, this commitment had no impact given that there were no mechanisms put in place for civil society and the wider public to engage with civil servants regarding the new information provided through the commitment activities.

Carried forward?

Although this commitment was not directly carried over to the 2016-2018 action plan, a commitment related to transparent financing of CSOs was included, namely, Commitment 11: Development of a uniform methodology for planning, monitoring and performance evaluation of programmes and projects implemented by civil society organisations and monitoring the spending of allocated funds.


Serbia's Commitments

  1. Develop a model of job description or part of job description of an officer responsible for cooperation with civil society in local administration

    RS0014, 2016, Capacity Building

  2. Organise trainings for public administration officers in connection with the application of the Guidelines on Inclusion of Civil Society Organisations in the Process of Passing Regulations

    RS0015, 2016, Capacity Building

  3. Organise trainings for CSO in connection with application of the Guidelines on Inclusion of Civil Society Organisations in the Process of Passing Regulations

    RS0016, 2016, Capacity Building

  4. Improve the system for collecting initiatives from citizens and businesses

    RS0017, 2016, Capacity Building

  5. Introducing standards for civic participation in the public policy management system

    RS0018, 2016, Capacity Building

  6. Improving proactive transparency – Information Booklet

    RS0019, 2016, Capacity Building

  7. Amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance

    RS0020, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  8. Development of an Open Data Portal

    RS0021, 2016, Capacity Building

  9. Draft a bylaw based on the Guidelines for Evaluation of Websites

    RS0022, 2016, Capacity Building

  10. Improve the institute of public hearing in the drafting of laws

    RS0023, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  11. Development of a uniform methodology for planning, monitoring and performance evaluation of programmes and projects implemented by civil society organisations and monitoring the spending of allocated funds

    RS0024, 2016, Capacity Building

  12. Amend the Regulation on Funds to Support Programmes or Missing Amount of Funds for Programmes of Public Interest implemented by Associations

    RS0025, 2016, Capacity Building

  13. Enactment of a Law on Electronic Documents, Electronic Identification and Trusted Services in Electronic Business

    RS0026, 2016, Capacity Building

  14. Establish a single public register of administrative procedures and other conditions for pursuing a business activity

    RS0027, 2016, Capacity Building

  15. Transparency in Monitoring Budget Expenditures

    RS0001, 2014, Capacity Building

  16. Law on Financing Political Activities

    RS0002, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  17. Transparent Public Procurement Procedures

    RS0003, 2014, Open Contracting and Procurement

  18. Transparent Financing of Civil Society Organizations

    RS0004, 2014, Civic Space

  19. Extending and Clarifying Responsibilities of the Anti-Corruption Agency

    RS0005, 2014, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  20. Whistleblower Protection Trainings and Campaigns

    RS0006, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  21. Draft Law Regulating Inspections in Public Administration

    RS0007, 2014, Audits and Controls

  22. e-Governmental Portal Awareness and Mobile Application

    RS0008, 2014, E-Government

  23. Starred commitment Public Administration Website Harmonization and Amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance

    RS0009, 2014, E-Government

  24. New Technologies to Improve Citizen Services

    RS0010, 2014, E-Government

  25. Cooperation with Civil Society Organizations in Public Policymaking

    RS0011, 2014, Civic Space

  26. Citizen Participation in Local Government Affairs

    RS0012, 2014, Public Participation

  27. Civil Society Participation in Monitoring the Public Administration (PAR) Strategy

    RS0013, 2014, Audits and Controls