EU Report: Public Administration Not Merit-Based Candidates taking the Civil Service test

In December 2017, Exit already reported that key aspects of the public administration reform, one of the five key priorities for the opening of EU accession negotiations, had failed, including the absence of a functional central database of all civil servants.

A report from SIGMA, an initiative of the EU and OECD to monitor the progress of the public administration reform in the 7 EU enlargement countries, including Albania, now confirms our findings.

The report, titled “The Principles of Public Administration: Albania,” shows that there are no data available concerning the “annual turnover of civil servants at the level of central administration,” meaning that there are no records of how many civil servants have been hired or fired since the beginning of the reform. Furthermore, the data show that in 2015 0% of the senior managers in the government changed, while in 2016 only 2%. 16% of the senior management was fired and then rehired in other state institutions. This has also been a familiar pattern after Prime Minister Edi Rama’s infamous “naming and shaming” shows in which he fired entire strata of the state bureaucracy. Most of them were simply moved to different positions.

The report also states that

the lack of specific regulations to ensure merit-based recruitment, integrity rules and disciplinary procedures for some groups of public employees exercising public authority and excluded from the scope of the civil service through the amendments to the CSL [Civil Service Law] passed in 2014, remains a matter of concern. […]

There is not a uniform, comprehensive legal framework to ensure merit-based recruitment and dismissal of those public employees not covered under the CSL.

For example, many directorates, including those of Customs, the National Food Authority, and the member of the Procurement Commission, are directly nominated by the Council of Minister without any type of formal evaluation. Furthermore, inspectors of the Supervisory Authority for Gambling and National Inspectorate for the Protection of the Territory do not fall under the Civil Service Law, and are therefore not hired based on merit. Especially in the case of these two institutions, it is clear how this exception leads to the maladministration often reported in the media.

The report further finds that although “The proportion of vacancies filled has improved, but there has been a significant decline in the ratio of participant candidates,” meaning that there are less candidates applying for an open position. This a direct result of the widespread understanding that it is impossible to get a government job without inside connections. This is confirmed by the fact that most of the top positions in government as filled “through the use of the exceptional procedure”: “In 2016, 81% of vacancies opened for competition were filled, despite the low number of eligible candidates.”

And although there has been a drop in dismissals since 2015, the government continues to ignore court orders: “the implementation of court decisions favourable to dismissed civil servants remains very low.”