To personalize accountability in the Government

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) has submitted an Initiative to the Prime Minister of Montenegro Duško Marković whereby it sought from the Prime Minister to pass a decision which would oblige the heads of state administration bodies to sign any announcements, press releases and public information of any content by authorised official, head of department, sector or head of the body him/herself.

In the Initiative, CCE explained that creators of such public documents cannot hide behind the “PR – Public Relations service” or any other service, but be listed by their name in order to avoid any misuse. Simultaneously, this would improve the public and professional accountability of employees in state administration, as well as cease personal “wars” between certain heads and their opponents.

One of the motives behind this initiative was the recent experience of CCE with PR service of Ministry of Education, to which announcement CCE made a public statement, but also submitted a Complaint on the work of servant employed in the PR of Ministry of Education to the Ethical Committee. Namely, the said reaction, signed by “PR service”, not by name of the servant in the PR service, presents the inappropriate qualifications beyond the framework of professional behaviour and political neutrality which state servants and employees should have as basic position. The response of “PR service” conveyed elementary discrimination on the grounds of intolerance or prejudice towards civil society organisations. Ethical Committee found that it was not in the position to act according to the complaint, because there was no name of the person to which the complaint related. This conveyed the message that irresponsible individuals in public sector bodies can inappropriately, and with impunity, exert unethical and unsubstantiated statements while being protected under the generically stated name of “PR” and services.

CCE assesses that the adoption of Initiative by the Prime Minister would enhance individual accountability of state servants and employees. Moreover, it would serve as one of the practical expressions of introduction of additional instruments aiming to strengthen the democracy and protection from every form of discrimination of citizens by public sector bodies.

Namely, it is not up to potentially affected parties to carry out the investigations in public bodies, for the sake of complaint to the Ethical Committee, in order to discover the names of persons who sign the official statements which contain offensive, discriminatory or inaccurate claims. And that restricts the space for adequate processing of the case. Those state servants, as well as the members of Government, who intend to continue with this form of misuse of their position and thus undermine the reputation of their institutions, should at least have the “courage” to stand behind their “writings”, and subsequently take responsibility for them.

Snežana Kaluđerović, programme coordinator