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Serbia

publish data on environmental protection funds (RS0030)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Serbia Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Environmental Protection

Support Institution(s): Administration Ministry of Finance Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self- 20 Government Civil sector organisations, private sector, working groups Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Environment and Climate, Fiscal Transparency, Open Data, Public Service Delivery

IRM Review

IRM Report: Serbia Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Ensuring availability of data on planned and spent amounts within local
funds for environmental protection
Q4 2018 - Q2 2020
(December 2018 - June 2020)
Lead implementing agency Ministry of Environmental Protection
Description of Commitment
Problem addressed by the
commitment
With the aim of ensuring funds for improvement of environmental
protection and achieving EU standards in that field, the Law sets
out the duty for local self-government (LSGUs) to found budget
funds for environment protection. It also provides that budget
funding is to be used for financing protection and improvement of
the environment on the basis of spending programmes, subject to
prior approval by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. Local
budget funding is provided from environment protection fees. In
addition, there is also a duty to submit reports on the use of
budget funding (Law on Environment Protection, Official Gazette
of RS Nos. 135/04, 36/09 and 14/16, Article 100, paragraphs 1, 3
and 4). Analyses carried out so far have shown there is no balance
between revenue from fees and funds spent for activities and
projects in the field of environment protection. On the other hand,
planning and spending of funds for these purposes is not
transparent and publicly available in most of the LSGUs.
Spending programmes and reports on spending of local funds of
LSGUs are submitted to the Ministry only in hard copy and are
not published. Given that Serbia faces a tremendous challenge in
its efforts to ensure compliance with high EU standards and that
this requires stable and sustainable funding at all government
levels, planning and spending of such funds must be transparent
and must involve consultation with all interested parties on the
basis of publicly available data.
Main objective The commitment includes opening of data on planned and spent
amounts within local funds for environment protection.
The aim of the commitment is to improve the financing system
18
for environment protection through establishing responsible
spending of public funds.
The expected result of this commitment is achieving of
transparent management of funds allocated for environment
protection.
How will this commitment
contribute to problem solving?
Opening of data on planned and spent amounts from local budget
funds for environment protection and their availability in a
machine-readable format will ensure access to, control and
analysis of data for all interested parties. Such availability of data
will ensure improved participation for civil society organisations,
the private sector and citizens and thus contribute to more
responsible decision-making by LSGUs on spending of public
funds.
The way in which this
commitment is relevant to further
advancing OGP values
Introduction of this commitment contributes to the following
proclaimed Open Government Partnership principles:
transparency, accountability and use of new technologies and
innovation.
Additional information Improvement of fiscal accountability is one of the key priorities of
the Government’s Programme. Establishing of a sustainable
financial framework in the field of environment protection, which
implies efficient use of public and private funds, is set out in the
Action Plan on Implementation of the Government’s Programme
and constitutes the basis for implementation of a multi-annual
investment plan related to implementation of the Serbia’s
National EU Accession Strategy. In addition, compliance with
this commitment will contribute to improvement of accountability
and transparency of the work of public authorities in accordance
with objectives of the Public Administration Reform Strategy, the
e-Government Development Strategy and the National AntiCorruption Strategy.
Activity with a verifiable
deliverable and completion date
Start Date: End Date:
1. Passing of a bylaw which
specify in detail the manner of
submission of data in electronic
format
Q4 2018 (December 2018) Q2 2019
(April 2019)
2. Preparation of technical
specifications and conducting a
Q1 2019
(February 2019)
Q2 2019
(April 2019)
19
public procurement procedure for
services of development of an
application for the submission of
programmes and reports on the
use of local funds for environment
protection
3. Development and testing of an
application for submission of
programmes and reports on the
use of local funds for environment
protection
Q2 2019
(April 2019) Q4 2019
(October 2019)
4. Implementation of training in
the use of the application for
employees in LSGUs
Q3 2019
(September 2019)
Q4 2019
(October 2019)
5. Deploying the application into
production
Q4 2019
(October 2019)
Q4 2019
(November 2019)
6. Provision of support to users
for entering data in the new
system
Q4 2019
(November 2019)
Q2 2020
(June 2020)
7. Publishing of the first data in a
machine-readable form on the
National Open Data Portal
Q2 2020
(June 2020)
Q2 2020
(June 2020)
Contact information
Name of a responsible person in the
implementing agency
Darinka Radojević
Title, Department Head of the Strategic Planning Unit, Sector for
Strategic Planning and Projects
Email and phone number darinka.radojevic@ekologija.gov.rs; 064 67 22 312
Other actors
involved
Administration
Ministry of Finance
Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-
20
Government
Civil sector organisations,
private sector, working
groups
Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities

IRM Midterm Status Summary

3. Publish Data on Environmental Protection Funds

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

Title: Ensuring availability of data on planned and spent amounts within local funds for environmental protection

Context and Objectives

According to the Law on Environmental Protection, each local self-government unit in Serbia has a duty to establish and ensure funds for improvement of environmental protection through local programs for environmental protection. [33] The main source these programs is income from environmental protection fees. [34] These funds are often unclearly and non-transparently allocated:

  • In the data from 2017, only 70 of the 145 local self-government units had adopted these programs through the executive body, [35] and only 60 had done so via the city/municipal parliament so that citizens could have some oversight. [36]
  • Based on the statements given by the ministry representatives, these programs have rather vague rules and criteria, meaning that they can get approved as long as they contain any measure linked to environmental protection in a specific local self-government unit (such as road construction, for example). [37] In addition, these programs are not created through wider debate or in consideration of environmental needs and factors. [38]
  • At the end of the programs’ implementation, each local self-government unit must submit a supporting report to the ministry. [39] These reports are not publicly available, [40] unless one sends an access to information request via a lengthy process. [41] They are also not uniform, with some including only a summary one-pager on the planned and spent funds. [42]
  • The only existing source of the published reports is the web database named “Local Green Funds” (“Lokalni zeleni fondovi”) developed by the CSO Institute for Industrial Relations. [43]

This commitment would make a substantial contribution toward fixing this problem by opening the data on planned and spent funds in machine-readable format, through a bylaw to establish an electronic application and standards for employees of local self-government units to enter program and fund-use data. Following the verification of the data entered by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, all programs and reports will then be published on the National Open Data Portal.

However, it is unclear whether the application will serve only as a platform for entering data or also as a tool for publishing data in a machine-readable format that will remain open for public oversight. Also, there is a question about the relation and communication between the application and the National Open Data Portal. Finally, although the plan also provisioned to organize trainings on using the application for employees in the local self-government units, [44] the specific plan and expected impact of the trainings are unclear.

The IRM researchers expect this commitment to be difficult to implement in the future. The person who oversaw developing and undertaking this commitment is no longer engaged in the Ministry of Environmental Protection, and none of the tasks related to this commitment have been delegated to remaining employees. The employees currently engaged in the ministry are not aware of this commitment and its activities [45]

Still, in terms of OGP values, this commitment if implemented would improve access to information on planned and spent amounts and would introduce new technologies and innovation in the everyday work of the local self-government units’ administration. The action plan also provisioned that this commitment would improve participation for CSOs, the private sector, and citizens, but the IRM researchers do not see a clear connection to that OGP value.

Next steps

The greatest challenge to this commitment is the fact that there is no designated point of contact in charge of its implementation. In addition, the trainings and the application planned within this commitment lack specific descriptions of several features. The IRM researchers suggest the following steps during implementation:

  • To the Ministry of Environmental Protection and to the MPALSG:
    • Cooperate to assign someone to coordinate the implementation of the activities within the commitment;
    • Focus trainings at the local self-government units lacking human resources and adequate capacities in using informational technologies;
    • Distinguish between the purpose and function of the application and that of the National Open Data Portal. The application should serve only as a tool for entering data by the local self-government units’ employees whereas the National Open Data Portal should serve as space for publishing entered and verified data. The application and the National Open Data Portal should be connected in a way that facilitates data updating;
  • To the Ministry of Environmental Protection:
    • Make the application user-friendly and include all relevant categories for making funds transparent and publicly available;
    • Develop an understandable video and written tutorial for the application; [46]
    • Specify criteria for approving programs to be funded so as to have an unambiguous link between the programs’ measures and the contribution to environmental protection;
  • To the CSOs:
    • Provide constant feedback on design, specifically the categories introduced, and on content, specifically the verification of the data presented, of the application and the National Open Data Portal.
[33] Law on Environmental Protection, Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia No. 135/2004, 36/2009, 72/2009, 43/2011, 14/2016, 76/2018, 95/2018, Belgrade, 2004, 2009, 2011, 2016, 2018, https://www.paragraf.rs/propisi/zakon_o_zastiti_zivotne_sredine.html (accessed on 15th of March 2019);
[34] Law on Environmental Protection, Ibid;
[35] Šipka, Stefan, Maksimović, Dejan, Local Finances and Environment: What are the Key Issues and Possible Solutions? European Policy Centre, Ecological Centre ”Habitat,” Belgrade, 2017, https://cep.org.rs/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Lokalne-finansije-i-%C5%BEivotna-sredina.pdf (accessed on 15 March 2019);
[36] Šipka, Stefan, Maksimović, Dejan, Ibid;
[37] Representatives of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, interviewed by the IRM researcher, 22 February 2019;
[38] Šipka, Stefan, Maksimović, Dejan, Ibid;
[39] Šipka, Stefan, Maksimović, Dejan, Ibid;
[40] Šipka, Stefan, Maksimović, Dejan, Ibid;
[41] Representatives of the CSOs dealing with the transparency of the local funds for environmental protection, interviewed by the IRM researcher, 14 February 2019 and 25 February 2019;
[42] Representatives of the CSOs dealing with the transparency of the local funds for environmental protection, Ibid;
[43] Local Green Funds, Institute for Industrial Relations, Belgrade, https://lokalnizelenifondovi.rs/ (accessed on 15 March 2019);
[44] Serbia Third National OGP Action Plan 2018-2020, Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia No. 105/2018, Belgrade, 2018, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Serbia_Action-Plan_2018-2020_EN.pdf (accessed on 15 March 2019);
[45] Representatives of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, interviewed by the IRM researchers, Ibid;
[46] Originally recommended by the interviewed representative of the CSOs handling the transparency of the local funds for environmental protection.

Commitments

  1. Increasing transparency and participation in parliament

    RS0042, 2018, Civic Space

  2. Publishing Budget Law

    RS0028, 2018, E-Government

  3. e-calendar for financing civil society

    RS0029, 2018, E-Government

  4. publish data on environmental protection funds

    RS0030, 2018, Capacity Building

  5. opening data for public calls for media development

    RS0031, 2018, E-Government

  6. open data reports on CSOs

    RS0032, 2018, E-Government

  7. amending media registration bylaws

    RS0033, 2018, E-Government

  8. Assistance with and monitoring of adoption of LAP

    RS0034, 2018, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  9. Updating of electoral roll

    RS0035, 2018, E-Government

  10. ePAPER

    RS0036, 2018, E-Government

  11. e-notice board

    RS0037, 2018, E-Government

  12. Improving proactive transparency – Information Booklet

    RS0038, 2018, E-Government

  13. Access to Information Law

    RS0039, 2018, Capacity Building

  14. cooperation with CSOs on regulations

    RS0040, 2018, Capacity Building

  15. e-civic engagement

    RS0041, 2018, E-Government

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. Improve the System for Collecting Initiatives from Citizens and Businesses

    RS0017, 2016, Capacity Building

  20. Introducing Standards for Civic Participation in the Public Policy Management System

    RS0018, 2016, Capacity Building

  21. Improving Proactive Transparency – Information Booklet

    RS0019, 2016, Capacity Building

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

    RS0020, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  23. Development of an Open Data Portal

    RS0021, 2016, Capacity Building

  24. Draft a Bylaw Based on the Guidelines for Evaluation of Websites

    RS0022, 2016, Capacity Building

  25. Improve the Institute of Public Hearing in the Drafting of Laws

    RS0023, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  26. 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

  27. 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

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

    RS0026, 2016, Capacity Building

  29. Establish a Single Public Register of Administrative Procedures and Other Conditions for Pursuing a Business Activity

    RS0027, 2016, Capacity Building

  30. Transparency in Monitoring Budget Expenditures

    RS0001, 2014, Capacity Building

  31. Law on Financing Political Activities

    RS0002, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  32. Transparent Public Procurement Procedures

    RS0003, 2014, Open Contracting and Procurement

  33. Transparent Financing of Civil Society Organizations

    RS0004, 2014, Civic Space

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

    RS0005, 2014, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  35. Whistleblower Protection Trainings and Campaigns

    RS0006, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  36. Draft Law Regulating Inspections in Public Administration

    RS0007, 2014, Audits and Controls

  37. e-Governmental Portal Awareness and Mobile Application

    RS0008, 2014, E-Government

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

    RS0009, 2014, E-Government

  39. New Technologies to Improve Citizen Services

    RS0010, 2014, E-Government

  40. Cooperation with Civil Society Organizations in Public Policymaking

    RS0011, 2014, Civic Space

  41. Citizen Participation in Local Government Affairs

    RS0012, 2014, Public Participation

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

    RS0013, 2014, Audits and Controls