Comprehensive Support to Public Administration in BiH

Last week two examples of the comprehensive support to public administration reform efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina provided on behalf of the UK and German governments have prompted the British Ambassador in Bosnia and Herzegovina to tweet about this successful cooperation. This tweet was quickly retweeted by GIZ head office account on Twitter. The two examples relate to the online conferences organised within the intervention area Improvement of Transparency and Accountability and the intervention areas Improvement of Quality of Public Service Delivery. 

Virtual Conference on Open Data in Public Administration in BiH Held 

On Wednesday, 2 December 2020 more than 70 participants of the virtual conference organised within the Programme for Strengthening of Public Institutions in BiH as part of the support of the governments of the United Kingdom and Germany to public administration reform in BiH have had the opportunity to talk about the path from the hard-copy folders and file drawers to open data in public administration in BiH. During two panel discussion the representatives of institutions and civil society organisations discussed the challenges they meet as well as the institutional plans for piloting of open data. It was accentuated that a strong political vision is required for the opening of data and that is necessary to strengthen cooperation between those who publish the data and those who use them.

During the conference the report on the conducted Open Data Readiness Assessment in BiH was presented. This assessment was prepared by the consortium made of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Transparency International BiH and ProPuh Zagreb and in cooperation with the Public Administration Reform Coordinator’s Office, Ministry of Justice of BiH and the Agency for Statistics of BiH. The conference was attended by the representatives of institutions, international and non-governmental organisations, media and academic community. In addition to the challenges in opening data the research has shown that there are great potentials for implementation of open data initiatives, including significant funding in this area through support of international partners as well as the active participation in the initiative Open Government Partnership. 

Management of activities in the area of open data has been significantly supported through the process of public administration reform in BiH. Strategic Framework for Public Administration Reform in BiH 2018-2022 as well as the Action Plan for its implementation have placed focus on the open data issues in the area of Accountability. One of the measures in this reform area envisages ensuring maximum availability of information about public administration and a special highlight is the readiness of institutions BiH to publish data in open formats which also represents one of the first and basic steps that the authorities have to make in order to demonstrate commitment to openness and transparency.

The full Open Data Readiness Assessment in BiH report can be found herein English, here in Bosnian, here in Serbian and here in Croatian.

Better Understanding of Citizens’ Needs Through Measuring Customer and Employee Satisfaction 

Among the 14 priorities that Bosnia and Herzegovina must meet on its path to EU membership is public administration reform. Apart from the fact that this reform must ensure professional and efficient public administration, it is necessary to do everything to make public administration institutions in the country move away from the classical, monolithic and autocratic way of functioning and switch to a model focused on the citizens and users.

This was the topic of the conference "Quality Management - Citizen / User in Focus" organised on 3 December 2020 by the Public Administration Reform Coordinator's Office in BiH in cooperation with the Institute for Standardisation of BiH, the Civil Service Agency of BiH, the Civil Service Agency of RS and the Civil Service Agency of FBiH and with the support of the Programme for Strengthening of Public Institutions implemented in BiH by GIZ on behalf of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Government of the United Kingdom.

The aim of the conference was to get acquainted with the tools, models and systems of quality management, measuring customer satisfaction, and spreading awareness of the need for transformation of public administration that is oriented towards users and citizens.

It was emphasised at the conference that key institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina have done a lot of work to achieve ISO management standards, as well as the implementation of the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) as a quality management tool for public administration institutions that introduces new practices. and improves their results. A special focus in these processes must be on the satisfaction of users of public administration services, which is why it is important to conduct adequate research and measurements.

 Representatives of key institutions for the improvement of services in the public sector said that through the new strategic framework and the measures it envisages, the preconditions have been created to increase the satisfaction of users and employees in the public sector. It was also emphasised that the current pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus has accelerated the process of digital transformation and the transition to digital tools that will ensure increased productivity after the pandemic.

In addition to representatives of domestic institutions, international experts also participated, whose expertise has been of great importance in the process of implementing the CAF system so far. Nick Thijs, an expert on public administration reform and service delivery at EU/OECD SIGMA, explained that it all starts with understanding the wishes, needs and expectations of users. Evolution in the public sector requires that users be treated not only as those to whom services are provided, but also as policy co-creators and participants in the decision-making process.

"It is not enough just to create a legal framework; it is necessary to make sure that it works in practice. Society is not changed by laws, but by institutions and the people in them,” said Thijs.

The results of measuring customer satisfaction as part of the cooperation within the Programme for Strengthening of Public Institutions, which was implemented in three institutions in BiH, were also presented. Although carried out in difficult conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this measurement was very successful and resulted in concrete suggestions on how the institutions participating in this pilot project can improve communication with users and increase the satisfaction of users of their services and their employees.

Improving public administration in terms of improving customer satisfaction with the services provided to them is especially important because the initial positions of Bosnia and Herzegovina in this regard are very poor and relevant research puts our country at the very back of Europe when it comes to citizens' satisfaction with services. provide. However, it is commendable that there is great interest among BiH institutions to participate in standardisation and service improvement projects, and the results achieved so far confirm their willingness to fully apply ISO standards and CAF tools to meet the needs of their users.

The conclusion that emerges after the conference is that it is necessary to continue to promote and raise awareness of the need for better quality management and continuous measurement of customer satisfaction, but also employees of public administration institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is the first step towards better understanding their needs and improving service delivery.