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Research: The merit system and digitalization of services – the formula for optimal and quality administration

One of the biggest challenges in every democratic society, and for us one of the conditions for the Euro-integration processes – citizen-oriented public administration of quality and an optimal number of employees – is tackled differently in different environments. However, there are international standards and paths that governments who want to do reforms in this area need to adhere to and take.

Although it has been trying to implement reforms in this area for at least a decade and a half, the state hasn’t made much progress hitherto. Still, the Republic of North Macedonia can today, at least, confirm that it has a strongly determined direction, road, and several routes on that road that has started taking.

In other words, the strategies, action plans, several key laws – all of that has been already adopted or almost finished, and now the ideas need to be implemented.

For what’s ahead of us, and based on the research on the topic and conversations with experts, we can, with a great deal of certainty, list the following recommendations:

  • Consistent implementation of a functional review in all public sector institutions. It is necessary for the implementation to be intensified and done as soon as possible so the public administration policy creators and implementers could objectively plan a reorganization of the public sector institutions, and so an objective personnel policy for planning the employments can be led;
  • Introduction of the employment and promotion principle in the public administration that will follow the system of qualifications, knowledge, and merit, so the public administration would be departicized as higher degree as possible;
  • The system of fair representation to be more and more relied on or combined with the merit system, i.e., a system of employment and promotion based on merit;
  • To finish the adoption of the legal framework for implementation of a high managerial service transparently and inclusively. To hasten the substitution of regulation that would allow fairer and more efficient high managerial service;
  • To raise public awareness about the need for using digital services of the public administration wherever applicable, even prior to mass digitalization of services;
  • To improve the RIA system so it could effectively become a compulsory process (not just de jure), which will apply to all processes regardless of the adoption pace;
  • To continue and deepen the system of openness and transparency of institutions;
  • To control and reduce the irrational costs in the administration, starting from paying members of steering and oversight boards and all other irrational costs that have to be limited according to the parameters of the economic power of the country, average salaries, etc.;
  • Responsibility within institutions as well as externally between institutions and bodies to be clarified and improved;
  • To allow greater fiscal decentralization regarding the local self-government, and concurrently to increase the scope of public services that can be provided by the local self-government…

These are just some of the recommendations arising from the research that was conducted in February this year. However, no matter whether there are more or whether these recommendations are already familiar to the authorities, it is high time these recommendations to be implemented in the reform that all citizens have been waiting for so long and every political figure in power wants it.

This research was conducted within the Western Balkans and the EU Accession process: Application of Political Criteria regional project, implemented by the Center for Democratic Transition from Podgorica, Montenegro. The project is supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway in Belgrade and the Balkan Trust for Democracy, a project of the German Marshal Fund of the USA.

The entire research is available here.