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Serbia

Improve the system for collecting initiatives from citizens and businesses (RS0017)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Serbia Second National Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Republic Secretariat for Public Policies

Support Institution(s): Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government – eGovernment Directorate, Ministry of Economy; Civil society organisations and companies

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Legislation & Regulation, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: Serbia End-of-Term Report 2016–2018, Serbia Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

THEME: Increase the role of citizens in the public policy management system; COMMITMENT 4: Improve the system for collecting initiatives from citizens and businesses; Status quo or problem addressed by the commitment: Ongoing consultations with stakeholders are crucial in the process of drafting and passing of regulations and public policy documents because they provide the required specific data and give information on the applicability of specific policy options that are being considered, as well as information on the willingness of stakeholders to take on the burden of additional obligations. Decision-makers often tend to propose, draft and pass regulations without consulting the stakeholders whose behaviour they seek to codify. In doing so, they miss the opportunity to collect meaningful information on the subject matter they seek to codify, fail to address or do not fully address the practical issues they encounter and sometimes pass inadequate provisions which are not based on a sound analysis of potential effects and available options for addressing those issues. In order to improve the role of citizens and businesses in decision-making, different models should be provided for the participation of citizens and businesses in the decision-making process. Main objective: To improve the role of citizens and businesses in the public policy management system and in the passing of regulations; Brief description of commitment (140-character limit): Different models should be available for enabling the participation of citizens and businesses in the decision-making process. An improved system for soliciting initiatives from citizens and businesses would be a key mechanism for the decision-making process. This commitment will require the installation of appropriate online software and provision of functionalities on the website of the Republic Secretariat for Public Policies (RSPP) through better, faster and easier access of citizens and businesses to the content of RSPP’s website. There are also plans to establish a Forum for Initiatives for Amendment of Inefficient Regulations in the Legislative Process. This system would enable citizens and businesses to submit initiatives to amend any existing regulations or initiatives to pass new regulations. For this system to be able to function properly, it will be necessary to build the capacities of the RSPP staff in charge of these duties. OGP challenge addressed by the commitment: Strengthening public integrity; Relevance: This commitment allows for broader civic participation in decision-making and contributed to improved cooperation and more active involvement of citizens in the process of drafting and passing of regulations. Citizens will be able to submit initiatives to amend or repeal any unnecessary regulations in accordance with the relevant procedures specified for the relevant initiative. Ambition: Once implemented, this commitment will: - Enable submission of initiatives on the RSPP for the amendment of poor regulations and for the repeal of unnecessary ones, as well as follow-up on those initiatives and access to information on the submitted initiatives and case progress; - Lead to the formation of a Forum comprised of representatives of CSOs, industry and commerce (business associations) and public administration bodies which will discuss issues agreed in advance based on received initiatives to amend and pass regulations; - Result in the adoption of internal procedures for soliciting and processing initiatives from citizens and businesses.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

For Commitment details, please see Serbia Mid-Term Report 2016-2018 (Year 1).

IRM End of Term Status Summary

4. Improve the collection of citizen and business initiatives

 

Commitment Aim:

This commitment aimed to develop and improve instruments for citizens and businesses to use to influence government decision making. The Government committed to developing an online portal for collecting initiatives that would amend/propose legislation or abolish red tape. The intention was to encourage interaction among the users and direct contact with PPS, the main responsible institution for administering the portal and forwarding the initiatives to the responsible policy-making institutions. Users would be able to monitor the status of proposed initiatives and their outcomes. An additional planned activity was the establishment of a forum for stakeholders to discuss the initiatives that had been collected, while a final activity involved developing internal procedures for PPS to process the initiatives.

Status

Midterm: Substantial

This commitment was substantially implemented by midterm. The Government established the online portal, 'Adminhack,' at the end of 2016 and piloted it within the information and communications technology (ICT) community. All submitted initiatives, their status, and the institutional response were publicly accessible and available for monitoring. RSPP organized roundtable meetings with ICT sector representatives to present and promote the portal.

The portal had received 17 submitted initiatives at the midterm, of which three had been solved/implemented. Interaction among users was limited because only four employees of PPS were responsible for administering the portal, and all had other responsibilities.

An analogous physical forum had yet to be constituted and there was no consistent message regarding its composition, working methods, or expected results. The last remaining activity was to develop internal procedures for processing initiatives and integrating/aligning them with the general procedures the RSPP used for submissions received through email and postal mail.

End-of-Term: Complete

A physical forum for discussing proposed initiatives among the state and non-state actors was established, an activity within a project that the PPS has been implementing with NALED, a non-state actor. XX[Note14: National Alliance for Local Economic Development. See more at: http://naled.rs/ ]XX The aim has been to enhance a dialogue between relevant government institutions and six selected business associations or CSOs. XX[Note15: Project webpage: http://jpd.rs/o-projektu.php]XX At the beginning of 2018, three associations XX[Note16: Entrepreneurship Development Association, Association of Beekeeping Organizations of Serbia and Agroclaster of Serbia.]XX were selected to participate in the dialogue on one of the following topics: flat-rate taxation, improving organic production, and beekeeping. PPS representatives said that the project team was developing plans to improve policies related to each of these three areas. XX[Note17: Ninoslav Kekic, Public Policy Secretariat, interview with IRM Researcher, 6 September 2018.]XX

The project team had started organizing round tables which, within this commitment, serve as the 'forums.' So far, four meetings have been organized to discuss the flat-rate taxation, two in Belgrade, one in Niš, and one in Novi Sad. XX[Note18: Individual news articles about the events are available here: http://jpd.rs/odrzan-prvi-okrugli-sto-u-okviru-kampanje-mesec-pausalaca.php, http://jpd.rs/u-nisu-odrzan-drugi-okrugli-sto-na-temu-pausalnog-oporezivanja.php]XX Attendees included representatives of the Tax Administration, PPS, NALED, Entrepreneurship Development Association, Policy Research Centre, Pausal.rs portal, along with other business associations and entrepreneurs interested in this topic.

The public-private dialogue project and the 'Adminhack' online portal do not have any links. The web page for the dialogue introduces a different web portal where stakeholders can indicate shortcomings in legislation and in practice regarding flat-rate taxation, organic production, and beekeeping. XX[Note19: The portal is available at http://jpd.rs/ukljuci-se-u-dijalog.php ]XX At the same time, the Adminhack portal remains accessible and contains 17 submitted initiatives, six of which have been solved or implemented. According to a PPS representative, this portal is not being used. The PPS is not promoting it XX[Note20: Ninoslav Kekic, Public Policy Secretariat, interview with IRM Researcher, 6 September 2018.]XX because it has proved complicated to administer for technical reasons related to the communication with foreign web developers. The PPS intends to build a similar portal that will become an integrated part of this institution's webpage, while Adminhack might serve other purposes in the future, such as providing an online forum for discussing initiatives. Finally, according to the representative, there are other options to submit initiatives online—the portal of the public-private dialogue project, the 'ePaper' portal, (see Commitment 14) along with the option of providing submissions via email.

The internal procedures for processing online initiatives has been completed. The last edit of the procedures was done in the second quarter of 2018. XX[Note21: Ibid.]XX

Did It Open Government?

Civic Participation: Marginal

This commitment has created some new opportunities for entrepreneurs to influence decision making and voice their needs. This was initially done by means of the 'Adminhack' online portal, which created a channel for the ICT sector to engage relevant institutions. Although initiatives could previously be submitted the PPS via email, the portal was a step towards increased interaction with a focus on the ICT sector. Moreover, the project saw PPS partner with NALED, which maintains a large network of contacts and associates from the private sector, which allowed wide outreach to the potential stakeholders to encourage participation. The willingness of government actors to engage in a process of gathering key institutions to discuss improving their respective areas in a systematic and planned manner represents a positive practice. However, as NALED, rather than the Government, has been responsible for implementing the project, it remains a one-off initiative rather than an institutionalized government practice.

All activities within this commitment have targeted the entrepreneur community or involved topics related to entrepreneurship, from the promotion the portal's purpose, XX[Note22: See: https://startit.rs/pokrenut-adminhack-rs-traze-se-predlozi-it-industrije-za-smanjenjeadministrativnih-prepreka/; http://socijalnoukljucivanje.gov.rs/rs/ukljuci-se-i-kreiraj-svoje-poslovnookruzenje/; https://www.vesti.rs/Dobre-vesti/Ponudite-predlog-za-smanjenje-administrativnihprepreka.html; https://www.rnids.rs/publikacije/RNIDSinfo34.pdf ]XX to the forum's topics and the results of the meetings. Although some CSOs were included, the opportunity to produce a meaningful output for ordinary citizens and the wider CSO community was missed. Similarly, since the Adminhack online portal was abandoned and proactive interaction was instead handled through face-to-face meetings, engagement opportunities for the entrepreneur community were limited to the number of associations and individuals that were able to get directly involved. Furthermore, NALED administered the website for the ongoing project rather than the government; while interviewees mentioned it as a potential substitute for Adminhack, it cannot be considered as a government's tool for proactive interaction with the stakeholders. Therefore, the IRM researcher assessed the change in government practice for civic participation as marginal, as there are no mechanisms to ensure institutional responsiveness to initiatives submitted by stakeholders and the focus has largely been on entrepreneurship issues. Thus, there are limited opportunities for the public to influence decision making.

Shifting the focus from 'Adminhack' to new portals could send a message that continuity and commitment is lacking, which may result in lower trust among end users. Therefore, there is a risk that people will be less motivated to engage because of uncertainty that is will result in any change. The possibility of several different portals with similar goals and target groups running concurrently may also confuse end users and create the impression of inconsistency, despite notionally increasing the government's reach. As these portals are outside of the scope of the OGP commitments, the PPS could consider consolidating them in a single, central portal for collecting initiatives from a range of stakeholders, including citizens.

Finally, the PPS lacks mechanisms to oblige institutions to consider the initiatives, so success largely relies on a case-by-case basis. Government bodies have sometimes been unresponsive or provided rather vague answers. XX[Note23: Ninoslav Kekic, Public Policy Secretariat, interview with IRM Researcher, 6 September 2018.]XXThis attitude can create additional discouragement for initiators and limit the openness of the government.

Carried Forward?

At the time of writing this report, the next Action Plan had not been published. Any future commitments that build on this one could be better streamlined and more focused on PPS initiatives that engage the public and the private sector in ways that ensure continuity and build trust. For example, a future commitment could establish accountability mechanisms for public authorities to respond and act on public proposals, which would add relevance to public accountability (which Serbia's current Action Plan lacks).


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