If it wasn’t posted on social media, it didn’t happen. This phrase describes well the way of increasing visibility in the field of public administration modernization and reform.
The reform successes, supported by the EU, are increasingly recognised by citizens who are already used to the ease of performing administrative procedures through e-services and other modern public administration services.
At the final conference of the EU project “Support to visibility and communication actions related to the public administration reform within the Sectoral Budget Support for Public Administration Reform”, impressive results supported by the analysis of public opinion research for 2023 were presented.
The interactive event held in Dorćol Platz was attended by representatives of relevant ministries, the Republic Public Policy Secretariat, the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia and the media.
The EU considers public administration reform to be very important, since public administration is vital for the functioning of the state as well as for the accession negotiations. In some countries, and previously in Serbia, the aspect of communication about public administration was identified as a weak point, Martin Klaucke, Head of Operations II of the EU Delegation in Serbia stated at the opening of the event and added:
“It is important that citizens know more about public administration because it affects everyday life, in the end it is the public administration of citizens, which is responsible precisely to citizens. That is why transparency is very important. Through the project, a large number of trainings were organized, both for officials and for the media, who now have a better understanding of the functioning of public administration. In addition to several media campaigns, over 1,000 success stories were written and published in the media. I think this project was successful and leaves behind a significant legacy.”
Mila Stanković, Assistant Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-Government emphasised the importance of the project, which according to her opened a completely new chapter in public administration reform.
“During the 5 years of the project implementation, we realised how important it is to communicate everything we do. We can have the best results, implement the best activities, but if nobody knows about them, it can be a serious problem. The project team managed to find, I can say, neuralgic point in that area and a way to get out of that own official box and way of thinking, which we use in communication and reporting. This took us to a completely new field, and the media followed the activities during the project implementation. We are no longer unknown persons, but desirable interlocutors who have something to say, and the citizens recognised this”, said Stanković.
Among the numerous results of the project, the media campaign “Public administration reform is…” stands out and it covered 47 different topics related to public administration in the period from May 2020 to the end of 2023, that found their place in more than 630 media announcements in local media and in over 350 media announcements in national media. A total of 28 media briefings and trainings (online and live) were held with participation of journalists from twenty local media and ten national media.
As part of the project, since 2018, an annual survey on the attitude of Serbian citizens toward public administration reform was conducted. Citizens express their opinion on various topics that include evaluation of public administration work, use of services, level of satisfaction and impact of reform, information channels, as well as support of the European Union in the process of public administration reform. One of the main conclusions is that the results indicate a continuous growth of citizens’ perception of the positive impact of the public administration reform.
The average rating of the work of the public administration is currently 3,75 and is continuously increasing compared to previous years.
According to citizens, the EU is still the largest donor that has been supporting the public administration reform in Serbia. More than two-thirds of respondents, or 69 percent, are aware of the EU support to public administration reform (2021 – 66 percent; 2022 – 68 percent; 2023 – 69 percent). The general impression on the topic of EU support to Serbia is dominantly very good (49 percent), while 15 percent of respondents rate it as excellent, with an average rating of very good 3,7.
|Very good and excellent
So far, Serbia has received almost four billion euros in grants from the European funds, of which 215 million euros were spent solely on public administration reform. Annually, around 200 million euros are allocated from the pre-accession IPA funds for public finance management and improving the work of local self-governments and independent institutions. Public administration reform is one of the most important elements of Serbia’s EU accession process, and in 2014 it was also put on the forefront of the negotiations. A modern and professional public administration is a key element for every EU member state in order to effectively implement laws and transparently manage funds from the EU funds.