Public Administration Reforms Got Stuck in Legal Amendments
The laws that regulate the work of the public administration have been corrected for years and are still subject to partial amendments, additions or complete changes. These advancements of legal solutions are going slower than expected, states the “Metamorphosis” Report on Public Administration Reforms. The very fact that the new laws for administrative officers, for employees in the public sector, for senior management service, as well as the delay in the reorganization of the state administration, confirm that perhaps the basic problem lies in the political will, says the expert for public administration Juliana Karai, MA, senior researcher at the European Policy Institute
“Slow, unprofessional, politicized, a place for housing party cadres and sympathizers”, are the criticisms that are most often addressed to the public administration. The efforts, on the other hand, to build a real and professional public service, which will be a service of the citizens, and not of the government, so far have proved to be only declarative.
The necessity of reorganization and transformation of institutions in state administration and public administration has been noted in almost all EU reports so far. The latest report of the European Commission on the state’s progress on the road to the EU states that “North Macedonia is moderately prepared in terms of public administration reform” while noting that “certain progress” has been achieved in this sphere. In this EC document, the adoption of new legal solutions that would improve the organization and functioning of the public sector is indicated as a necessity. In that sense, it is indicated that:
In the coming period, the country especially needs:
- To adopt and implement the revised Law on Administrative Officers, the Law on Public Service Employees and the Law on Senior Management Service;
- To adopt and implement the Law on the Organization and Work of the State Administration Bodies and other related laws in accordance with the recommendations for the new organization of the State Administration Bodies;
- To ensure full implementation of the Law on General Administrative Procedure.
However, what are the conditions now? What is happening and has there been any progress in the past period of almost nine months after the publication of the EC Report (October 2021)?
Regarding the reform process in public administration, Juliana Karai, M.A. senior researcher at the European Policy Institute, an expert in public administration, points out that it is very important to put emphasis on solving the problems in this sphere that most directly affect the citizens.
I would emphasize the problems in the reform which are directly felt by the citizens and which, if implemented, would significantly improve their quality of life. I am talking about the inefficiency of the administration, quantity versus quality of public administration officials, non-implementation of the digitization process at every possible level. They are unequivocally highlighted in the “Metamorphosis” Report on Administration Reforms, says Karai.
She does not see the reason for these problems as the lack of means for implementation, but in the lack of real political will to overcome them.
After all, the very fact that the new laws for administrative officers, for public sector employees, for senior management service, as well as the delay in the reorganization of the state administration, have been taking so long and have not been passed in any way, confirm that perhaps the basic problem lies in the political will, emphasizes Karai.
The key laws for the administration have been changing for years
The laws that regulate the work of the public administration have been changing for years and are still subject to partial amendments, additions or complete changes. These advancements of legal solutions are going slower than expected, states the “Metamorphosis” Report on the Public Administration Reforms entitled: “Administrating” the administration – key prerequisite for reforms, in which a cross-section of the state of the reform process is made from 2021 until March 31, 2022.
The Law on Administrative Officers, the Law on Public Sector Employees and the Draft Law on Senior Management Service are the key legal solutions for the work of the administration. The first two were adopted back in 2014, and the third law was never submitted to the Assembly, although the idea of developing it appeared as early as 2019. We are talking about legal solutions that should enable the professionalization of the administration, better integrity and protection from corruption and nepotism, depoliticization of the administration and introduction, i.e. consolidation of the merit system as a basic principle for employment and advancement in the public service.
In the “Metamorphosis” Report, the harmonization/amendments of over 200 laws are also detected as a problem in the legal framework in order to enable the process of providing e-services to citizens, but also to speed up the process of digitization of the administration.
This document also points out that efficiency and accountability remain a weak side of the public administration. Models for measuring efficiency have been incorporated into the legal solutions so far, but this is implemented only formally. Accountability, on the other hand, as a problem should be solved by reorganizing the bodies of the state administration, for which it is necessary to adopt a new Law on the Organization of the Work of the Bodies of the State Administration, which was last amended in 2019.
This article has been produced within the project Fact-Checking the Progress of North Macedonia towards the EU, implemented by the Metamorphosis Foundation. The article, originally published by Truthmeter,, is made possible by the support of the American non-profit foundation NED (National Endowment for Democracy). The content of this article is the responsibility of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, NED or their partners.