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Serbia

cooperation with CSOs on regulations (RS0040)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Serbia Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Office for Cooperation with the Civil Society

Support Institution(s): CSOs, SCTM

Policy Areas

Capacity Building

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: Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

COMMITMENT 13: Support to improved cooperation between public administration bodies
and civil society organisations in the process of drafting, enactment and monitoring of
application of regulations
Q4 2018 - Q2 2020
(December 2018 - June 2020)
Lead implementing agency Office for Cooperation with the Civil Society
Description of Commitment
Problem addressed by the
commitment
In 2017, the Office for Cooperation with the Civil Society carried
out its regular annual survey of cooperation between state and
provincial administration authorities and independent bodies and
civil society organisations (CSOs) in 2016. The survey included 63
authorities: 47 state administration authorities, 12 provincial
administration authorities and 4 independent bodies. The results
reveal that 22 of the surveyed authorities have an organisational
unit or person in charge of cooperation with the civil society, and
as many as 16 of them are state administration authorities. During
the observed year, 26 of the surveyed authorities (41.3%)
submitted at least one act (draft law, development strategy or
action plan) to the Government and 15 of them (57.7%) conducted
a public debate. There were 48 public debates in total, meaning
that the average number of public debates per authority which held
such debates was 3.2. Of the 15 authorities that held public
debates, 14 involved CSOs, i.e. representatives of CSOs took part
in the public debates on 45 acts. Evidently, national-level
administration authorities tend to involve CSOs more in their
public debates and the existence of resources for cooperation with
CSOs correlates positively with increased participation of CSOs in
more organised public debates. The authorities reported that 29 of
them (46 %) had other forms of cooperation with CSOs in the
passing of regulations, including provision of information,
counselling, inclusion or partnership, with provision of information
highlighted as the most commonly used approach. As regards
inclusion of CSOs in the work of working/project groups and other
temporary or ad hoc bodies tasked with drafting regulations, 17
authorities reported they had formed at least one such body which
included civil society representatives; the total number of such
bodies in 2016 was 48. Compared with previous surveys, the
replies received for 2016 vary depending on the segment; however,
they are also indicative of a need and scope for further
55
improvement of cooperation between public administration
authorities and CSOs, especially at levels below the national
administration.
As part of implementation of the commitments set out in the
Action Plan on Implementation of the Open Government
Partnership Initiative in the Republic of Serbia in 2016 and 2017,
the Office for Cooperation with the Civil Society held a total of 6
trainings in 2017 on application of the Guidelines for the Inclusion
of CSOs in the Process of Enacting Regulations, which were
attended by 108 representatives of local self-governments and
CSOs in total. These included 2 trainings for employees at local
self-government units (39 participants from 24 local selfgovernments and 5 city municipalities) and 4 trainings for CSOs
(69 participants from 55 civil society organisations active primarily
at the local level). The reports of these trainings, which are
available at http://civilnodrustvo.gov.rs/почетна.122.html, reveal
that training objectives have been attained, that the level of
satisfaction with the training among the participants is high, that a
moderate increase in knowledge of the issues was achieved after
the completion of training and that there is a need for further
improvement of cooperation between the two sectors. One of the
recommendations made in those reports, as well as in the report of
the Independent Reporting Mechanism on Implementation of the
Action Plan for 2016 and 2017, is to continue strengthening the
capacities for cooperation exactly through joint trainings for
employees of public administration bodies and representatives of
CSOs, as well as through the preparation of a new Manual on
Application of the Guidelines for the Inclusion of CSOs in the
Process of Enacting Regulations, focusing on good practice
examples at the local level. In the three years of application of the
Manual on Application of the Guidelines, which was developed by
the Office in 2015, it has been found that certain models and levels
of cooperation have become common practice in the relations
between public administration and CSOs, although there are
mechanisms for CSO involvement which would have to be
developed further. As a result, numerous examples of good
practice have been developed in the meantime for the involvement
of CSOs, or the public at large, in the preparation, enactment and
monitoring of application of regulations, especially at the local
level, with which the general public is not familiar. It has been
shown in practice that such examples can be particularly
motivating and that they provide additional encouragement for
other administration bodies to recognise the importance of CSOs,
their potential contribution and cooperation with them.
56
Main objective This commitment comprises two parts. The first part is to hold up
to 7 trainings which will be jointly attended by employees of
public administration bodies and representatives of CSOs. The
minimum planned number of participants in the trainings is 140,
with approximately equal representation of both sectors.
Representatives of public administration bodies will primarily be
chosen from among employees in charge of drafting regulations
and cooperating with CSOs, focusing on the managerial level,
while representatives of CSOs will be selected on the basis of a
public call posted on the website of the Office for Cooperation
with the Civil Society and the partners in the implementation of
this activity. The second part of the commitment is to compile,
publish and distribute the new Manual on Implementation of the
Guidelines for the Inclusion of CSOs in the Process of Enacting
Regulations.
It is expected that joint trainings for representatives of public
administration bodies and CSOs wll allow participants to learn
more about one another and put themselves “in the other’s shoes”,
thereby improving mutual understanding between the two sectors
and increasing the level of trust between them, which is one of the
core principles and prerequisites for proper inter-sector
cooperation. On the other hand, the second edition of the Manual,
enriched with practical experiences gathered both by the Office
and the public administration bodies themselves, will further
motivate and encourage other administration bodies, including in
particular local self-government units, to improve their
cooperation with CSOs. Unlike the practice followed in the
preparation of the current Manual, it is planned to include CSOs in
the preparation of the new edition, so they could make suggestions
and provide good practice examples to be incorporated in the
Manual. Furthermore, it is expected that updating of the list of
regulations relevant for cooperation between public administration
bodies and CSOs and highlighting of their key provisions will
raise awareness of the obligations, as well as opportunities for
cooperation, both among public administration bodies and among
CSOs.
The overall objective of this commitment is to build the capacities
of public administration bodies and CSOs to establish sustainable
models and mechanisms of cooperation in the process of drafting,
enactment and monitoring of application of regulations and public
policy documents.
How will this commitment
contribute to problem solving?
As indicated in the description of this commitment, capacity
building through acquisition and exchange of knowledge and
experiences between public administration bodies and CSOs will
57
contribute primarily to their better mutual knowledge and
understanding and contribute to a relationship of trust between
them. Such conditions create potential for more effective
application of already established cooperation mechanisms and
development of new ones and contribute to greater participation of
citizens and CSOs themselves in the drafting and implementation
of regulations and public policies, while also ensuring their quality
and more efficient application.
Designing a proper Training Programme (activity 1) which defines
their key elements (objectives, topics and work programme, target
groups, training calendar, agenda etc.) is a major cornerstone for all
further activities under this commitment. The central activity
(activity 2), i.e. organisation and provision of the trainings, will
directly concern the problem addressed by the commitment.
Specifically, the one-day trainings will provide employees of
public administration bodies and representatives of CSOs with
information relevant for improving cooperation with CSOs and
they will participate in practical exercises, which will provide them
with an opportunity to apply the knowledge they acquire during the
theoretical part of the training. In addition, both groups of
participants will be able to learn first-hand how the other side sees
their current cooperation and to jointly propose mechanisms for its
improvement. When they complete the training, participants will
have a clearer understanding of the importance, potential and
advantages of greater public participation in the process of drafting,
enacting and monitoring the application of regulations. Reports of
trainings (activity 3) will specify the number of participants, the
topics covered and key observations and achievements. These
reports will also contain recommendations for future activities
aimed at improving inter-sectoral cooperation, and the first effects
of it will be visible through the evaluation forms and “knowledge
quizzes” at the beginning and end of the trainings. Finally, the
preparation, publishing and distribution of the Manual on
Implementation of the Guidelines (activities 4 and 5) will be an
additional form of support, both to public administration bodies and
to CSOs, to improve their mutual cooperation.
The way in which this
commitment is relevant to
further advancing OGP values
This commitment is relevant for citizens’ participation in the
drafting, enactment and monitoring of implementation of
regulations, as a value promoted and fostered by the Open
Government Partnership. Building the capacities of public
administration bodies to understand the role and potential of CSOs
and possible ways of cooperation with them increases their
willingness for and openness to cooperation with the civil sector
and with citizens in general. On the other hand, better
understanding of legal and other possibilities of cooperation with
58
public administration bodies will contribute to greater interest and
involvement of CSOs, and through them also citizens, in the work
of the administration and drafting of better regulations.
Additional information In its report covering the first year of execution of the Action Plan
on Implementation of the Open Government Partnership Initiative
in 2016 and 2017, the Independent Reporting Mechanism
recommended a commitment which would involve joint trainings
for public administration bodies and CSOs on ways to improve
their cooperation and compiling of a Manual with good practice
examples of cooperation between public administration and the
civil sector, especially at the local level.
Activity with a verifiable
deliverable and completion date
Start Date: End Date:
1. Preparation of Training
Programme
Q4 2018
(December 2018)
Q1 2019
(March 2019)
2. Execution of trainings Q2 2019
(April 2019)
Q4 2019
(November 2019)
3. Compiling and publishing of
reports with recommendatins
Q4 2019
(November 2019)
Q4 2019
(December 2019)
4. Compiling of the second
edition of the Manual
Q1 2020
(January 2020)
Q2 2020
(April 2020)
5. Publishing and distribution of
the second edition of the Manual
Q2 2020
(April 2020)
Q2 2020
(June 2020)
Contact information
Name of a responsible person in
the implementing agency
Danilo Rodić
Title, Department Junior Advisor at the Division for Planning and Creating a
Conductive Environment for the Development of Civil Society
59
Email and phone number danilo.rodic@civilnodrustvo.gov.rs ; 011/311-38-59
Other
actors
involved Administration
Civil sector
organisations, private
sector, working
groups
CSOs, SCTM

IRM Midterm Status Summary

13. Cooperation with CSOs on Regulations

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

Title: Support to improved cooperation between public administration bodies and civil society organizations in the process of drafting, enactment and monitoring of application of regulations

This commitment comprises two parts. The first part is to hold up to 7 trainings which will be jointly attended by employees of public administration bodies and representatives of CSOs. The minimum planned number of participants in the trainings is 140, with approximately equal representation of both sectors. Representatives of public administration bodies will primarily be chosen from among employees in charge of drafting regulations and cooperating with CSOs, focusing on the managerial level, while representatives of CSOs will be selected on the basis of a public call posted on the website of the Office for Cooperation with the Civil Society and the partners in the implementation of this activity. The second part of the commitment is to compile, publish and distribute the new Manual on Implementation of the Guidelines for the Inclusion of CSOs in the Process of Enacting Regulations.

It is expected that joint trainings for representatives of public administration bodies and CSOs will allow participants to learn more about one another and put themselves “in the other’s shoes”, thereby improving mutual understanding between the two sectors and increasing the level of trust between them, which is one of the core principles and prerequisites for proper inter-sector cooperation. On the other hand, the second edition of the Manual, enriched with practical experiences gathered both by the Office and the public administration bodies themselves, will further motivate and encourage other administration bodies, including in particular local self-government units, to improve their cooperation with CSOs. Unlike the practice followed in the preparation of the current Manual, it is planned to include CSOs in the preparation of the new edition, so they could make suggestions and provide good practice examples to be incorporated in the Manual. Furthermore, it is expected that updating of the list of regulations relevant for cooperation between public administration bodies and CSOs and highlighting of their key provisions will raise awareness of the obligations, as well as opportunities for cooperation, both among public administration bodies and among CSOs.

The overall objective of this commitment is to build the capacities of public administration bodies and CSOs to establish sustainable models and mechanisms of cooperation in the process of drafting, enactment and monitoring of application of regulations and public policy documents.

Start Date: Q4 2018

End Date: Q2 2020

For full commitment text, please refer to the National Action Plan at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Serbia_Action-Plan_2018-2020_EN.pdf

Context and Objectives

Public consultations on proposals are often conducted formalistically and too late in the process, not enabling all interested parties to provide timely and qualitative input. [156] Most consultations represent “box ticking” rather than content-related cooperation. [157] Moreover, government organized non-governmental organizations have recently been present, taking over the space of cooperation with the public administration bodies and creating the illusion of CSO participation in the policy-making process. [158] In 2014, Guidelines for the Inclusion of Civil Society Organizations in the Regulation Adoption Process were adopted to enhance the cooperation between public administration bodies and CSOs, [159] but the data on the process of consultations [160] show that these guidelines did not fully succeed. [161] Although guidelines offer useful solutions, one of the weaknesses is the type of document that “Guidelines” represent: they do not oblige any bodies to cooperate with CSOs but rather only recommend doing so.

This commitment was an initiative of the OCCS, [162] with the aim of allowing exchange and learning among participants. The manual would include best practice examples on the content already present within the guidelines, [163] and the planned trainings will focus on better mutual knowledge and understanding between the CSOs and public administration bodies. [164] The commitment thus aims to further encourage civic participation but does not add an obligation, which raises questions about whether such an approach will have a significant impact. Although the Public Policy Secretariat initiated a recently adopted legal and policy framework in this area (such as Law on the Planning System), the secretariat was not included in this commitment. [165]

CSO representatives reported that the trainings would not achieve much, raised concerns about the purpose and clarity of the new manual, and asked how it would be different from the existing guidelines. In the previous trainings organized by the OCCS, the participants were independent CSOs, [166], [167] but the trainings still achieved limited impact [168]. Still, the CSOs thought the manual should be developed but with a focus on citizen use rather than the public administration. In their words, the manual should provide useful information to the citizens on how they can have a policy impact in their respective communities. In such a way, the demand for inclusion should be initiated from the bottom up, as the previous efforts for top-down actions proved less effective. [169]

Next steps

The following measures can be considered during implementation:

  • To the OCCS:
    • Make a detailed plan for trainings and follow up with mentoring and counselling; [170]
    • The recommendations aimed at improving inter-sectoral cooperation should become a part of the manual. They should also include forms of engagement and consultations at different levels and phases, such as green paper/scenarios-scoping, before there is any draft decision or law enacted;
    • Include the Public Policy Secretariat in implementation of this commitment, as a public administration body responsible for coordinating and monitoring the planning system in Serbia and policymaking. This will also strengthen the inter-sectoral cooperation.
  • To CSOs:
    • Support less developed grassroots CSOs by actively consulting them in decision-making at pre-drafting stages and by engaging them in shaping and influencing policy in their respective local self-government units to influence policy;
    • Encourage the networking of civil society organizations in order to make them even more effective in public debates. Open a dialogue with other CSOs about cooperating together in increasing the breadth and depth of CSO engagement with the public administration bodies, particularly on the level of local self-government units.
[156] European Commission Report on Serbia in 2018, European Commission, European Union, Brussels, 2018, page 9, https://ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/sites/near/files/20180417-serbia-report.pdf (accessed on 15th of March 2019); 
[157] Representatives of the CSOs involved in the Working Group and dealing with the public participation, interviewed by the IRM researcher, 11 February 2019, 6 March 2019, and 7 March 2019;
[158] 2017 Civil Society Organizations Sustainability Index, National Coalition for Decentralization, Niš 2018, pages 5 to 7, http://nkd.rs/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/IO-OCD-2017-Srbija.pdf (accessed on 15 March 2019);
[159] Guidelines for Inclusion of Civil Society Organizations in the Regulation Adoption Process, Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia No. 90/2014, Belgrade, 2014, http://civilnodrustvo.gov.rs/upload/documents/Razno/EN-smernice.pdf (accessed on 15th of March 2019);
[160] 2017 Civil Society Organizations Sustainability Index, National Coalition for Decentralization, Niš 2018, pages 5 to 7, http://nkd.rs/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/IO-OCD-2017-Srbija.pdf (accessed on 15 March 2019);
[161] 2017 Civil Society Organizations Sustainability Index, Ibid, pages 5 to 7; 
[162] Representatives of the CSOs involved in the Working Group and dealing with the public participation, Ibid;
[163] Representative of the Office for Cooperation with the Civil Society, interviewed by the IRM researcher, 13 February 2019;
[164] Representative of the Office for Cooperation with the Civil Society, interviewed by the IRM researcher, Ibid;
[165] Representatives of the Public Policy Secretariat, interviewed by the IRM Researcher, 7 February 2019;
[166] Report on the Trainings for Civil Society Organizations “Cooperation of the Public Administration with Civil Society Organizations in Decision Making Process,” Office for Cooperation with the Civil Society, Government of the Republic of Serbia, Belgrade, 2017, http://civilnodrustvo.gov.rs/%D0%BF%D0%BE%D1%87%D0%B5%D1%82%D0%BD%D0%B0.122.html (accessed on 15 March 2019);
[167] In the past four years (since 2015) the OCCS has been organising trainings for local government and the CSOs to help them better understand the significance of mutual cooperation;
[168] Representatives of the CSOs involved in the Working Group and dealing with the public participation, Ibid;
[169] Representatives of the CSOs involved in the Working Group and dealing with the public participation, interviewed by the IRM Researcher, Ibid;
[170] Originally recommended by the interviewed representative of the CSO involved in the Working Group and dealing with the public participation.

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