Jul 9, 2018

Analysis of the Professionalisation of the Senior Civil Service and the Way Forward for the Western Balkans

Recently, the second edition of Analysis of the Professionalisation of the Senior Civil Service and the Way Forward for the Western Balkans was published by SIGMA (Support for Improvement in Governance and Management), a joint initiative of the OECD and the European Union. It is intended to help senior-ranking decision makers, both at the political and senior level, design institutions with the potential to support greater professionalism, and suggests ways forward based on available good practices from the EU and OECD member countries as well as the Western Balkans.

Senior civil service (SCS) connects the civil service and the democratically elected cabinet of ministers. It has a very special role: it executes government policies and advise ministers on how to convert the government’s political programme into concrete actions, but it also safeguards the core mission of the state, which is independent of the government in office. Thus, the professionalism of senior civil servants in managing government affairs is crucial to a government’s success or failure.

This paper focuses on two core features in the process of examining a professional SCS: professional competency and political responsiveness. The study is grounded in an analytical framework that models conditions needed to establish a professional SCS. In the first chapter, a framework is presented. It is based on the SIGMA Principles of Public Administration, focusing on prevention of any direct or indirect political influence on senior managerial positions in the public service.

The second chapter analyses institutional frameworks and practices in the Western Balkans, covering the composition of the SCS and its employment conditions, recruitment and selection, professional development, termination of employment, and policy co-ordination and management. The analysis is based on information gathered in the SIGMA 2017 Monitoring Reports in the region, and on data collected specifically for this study with the help of local experts and bodies responsible for the civil service.

In the last chapter of the publication, directions for progress and ideas for improvements are provided. The paper concludes with the message that the Western Balkan region should place professionalisation of the senior civil service (i.e. creating a system that produces professional competence at the SCS level) at the top of the political agenda.

You can access the report on this link.