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About: Working Group on Civil Service

This WG was announced in 2009. Our wish was to start cross-country discussions and encourage people from different countries, with different backgrounds, to present and discuss various models of Human Resources (HR), commonalities and differences amongst CEE states compared to Western countries.

 

In addition to this scientific approach, our goal was also to start practical input and experience exchange for the implementation of selected precise HR Instruments in different countries and a critical analysis of their impact, as well as new strategies in the civil service. The WG has met already 4 times (the last time in Ohrid, Macedonia), always with excellent presentations and vital discussions.

 

Background and justification

In the 21stcentury, demographic developments, but also the global crisis, growing expectations from citizens, together with cuts made by governments, the introduction of new technologies and PA resistance for changes, individualisation, delegation and decentralisation, together with centralisation new waves, financial pressures and internationalisation trends have become the determining factors of challenges and changes in the public service.

 

The reforms of public administration (also in the civil service area) in the countries that are new members of the EU were strongly provoked and caused by this future membership. Nowadays, on the other hand, there is a lack of a strong, outer "reform driver”. After joining the EU, ex-ante controls carried out by the Committee was substituted by considerably weaker instruments of ex-post control, and only in cases of a lack of implementation or delayed implementation.

Moreover, there are authors who plainly point out that from the moment when full membership in the European Union became a fact, CEE countries have not had any stimulus, not only regarding reforms, but also to undertake actions compatible with pre-accession requirements. Consequently, it can affect an incorrect implementation or even reversal of post-accession reforms, which these countries processed, thanks to the requirements of the Union prior to accession (Bouckaert, Nakrošis and Nemec 2011; Goetz 2005; Hughes, Sasse and Gordon 2004); for the EU it can be "Eastern problem” (Sedelmeier, 2008).

 

In all CEE countries, changes in the law in the area of the civil service were numerous, although not always very important. In other words, the formal rules governing civil services in Central and Eastern Europe are very unstable and, as a consequence, the predictability of civil service management is seriously undermined and arbitrary management may develop” (J.H. Mayer-Sahling, 2009:20). Meyer-Sahling, whilst analysing the situation of the civil service (and its professionalisation) in CEE after accession to the EU, plainly emphasises three paths of changes, which in his opinion, proves a lack of a single acting pattern. The first path is a continuation of civil service reforms. The second is constituted by these countries in which changes depart from pre-accession assumptions (reform backsliding). Authors of the World Bank Report (2007) evaluating the administrative capacity of CEE countries two years after accession to the EU, came to similar conclusions. In the scope of performance management in government, policy coordination and HRM, Lithuania and Latvia were classified as the leading countries, whilst Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia were classified as being weak with regard to the above mentioned criteria. Hungary is highlighted by Meyer-Sahling as an ambiguous case which represents a combination of civil service reforms and simultaneous departure from them (Meyer-Sahling 2011).

 

In 2009, we began with a discussion and carried out a general overview of civil services in CEE countries. Year by year we try to find new approaches that will show us the most obvious challenges and changes that CEE countries are facing in the area of the civil service. We decided to focus in 2013 on the topic of practical solutions in human resources development in the civil service. This includes questions about gender, demographic development, staff satisfaction and motivation.

 

In addition to previous conferences, we would like to keep one of the sessions for training and experience exchanges about one precise instrument. For 2013, we have selected the following priority topics: gender, solutions for demographic development and staff satisfaction (motivation). In these selected sessions we will have an introduction to the topic, different approaches discussed and success factors identified. At the end we would like to have documentation of this topic with the following chapters:

  • Introduction, concepts.
  • Design, Instruments.
  • Implementation/evaluation.
  • Appendix: solutions in different CEE Countries.

This type of documentation will be the start of a handbook about the concepts and implementation of HR Instruments, which will be followed after 2013 with other HR topics. The handbook will serve the interests of practitioners and applied scientists.

An exchange of material can be organised on an e-platform.



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