Ombudswoman's reaction to the Civil Service Act Proposal and its possible negative impact on the independence and quality of administrative work – February 27th, 2014

According to the institutions’ monitoring powers over administration from the human rights perspective the Office has a vast insight in the structural problems of the Croatian administration, based on numerous citizens’ complaints against administration as well as on the complaints submitted by civil servants. Therefore it is her duty to react on legal proposals which intend to regulate this field anew, i.e. to the Civil Service Act Proposal which is currently in the public debate.

The new employment model in the public service, as envisaged by the Civil Service Act, introducing labour contract and application of private instead of public law without prior comprehensive and fundamental expert discussion, may have negative consequences for the professional, skilled and efficient public administration and may lead to the greater politicisation of the public service, claims the Ombudswoman in her letter to the Minister of Public Administration. The proposed model is contrary to the notion of independent role of public service which is respected in the majority of the European states. Indication to that are the proposed provisions giving the head of the body the authority to conclude a labour contract and give a notice on dismissal as well as to decide on all other rights, obligations and responsibilities of public servants. Namely, these provisions are unclear and finally they do not ensure the accessibility of civil service to the most skilled candidates.

Performing the work of state administration with public powers requires professional, competent and non-politicised public administration where independence, stability, dignity and confidence are guaranteed. Only with these prerogatives and clear rules on recruitment, job promotion and responsibility, public service can be protected from the negative political influence to the benefit of the public interest and the interest of every individual citizen. Approach towards public servants based on these foundations creates an obstacle for corruption and is the only guarantee of the quality performance of service in favour of citizens.

Authority of a political leader to hire and dismiss public servants without clear rules on the procedure, applying only „principles of hierarchical subordination“ as envisaged by the Civil Service Act Proposal, is not the prerequisite for a depoliticised public administration. On the contrary, it is a ground for discrimination based on political or other affiliation which is contrary to the Croatian Constitution, Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as well as to the Anti-discrimination Act. Proposed solution may have a deteriorating effect on the stability and professionalism of the administrative system as a whole and, at odds with the intentions, may prevent development and autonomy of the civil service, deems the Ombudswoman.