July 1, 2022

With the support of the EU4PAR project, the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government (MPALSG), at the end of last year, successfully completed the implementation of the European quality management model (Common Assessment Framework - CAF) and improved the work of the institution. Introducing a quality management system is one of the preconditions for accessing EU structural funds.  Following good European practice, the Public Administration Reform Strategy in the Republic of Serbia recognises the CAF quality management model as an instrument that effectively contributes to strengthening institutional excellence.

Intending to raise awareness of CAF and make it easily accessible to other institutions within the Serbian public administration, the EU4PAR project and MPALSG have launched a CAF website, as well as an online questionnaire guiding the self-assessment of CAF implementers. MPALSG invited all eligible institutions to apply for support.

The institutions that have responded to this call so far are the Public Investment Management Office and the Republic Agency for the Peaceful Settlement of Labour Disputes, which started the implementation of the CAF in spring 2022.

       - We were offered the opportunity to implement this quality management model, and the first impressions are that we got the chance to see all the critical aspects of business and how our organization works. At the workshops, we jointly reviewed the work, planning, processes and strategies to reach a consensus on where we are now and where we would like to be in the future - says Katarina Grujicic, Human Resources and Administration Coordinator in the Public Investment Management Office

The self-assessment process under the CAF usually takes several months. During this time, the institutions implement the steps envisaged within the initial phase of CAF implementation: a Self-Assessment Group is formed consisting of employees from all parts of the institution whose members, based on their assessments of the institution's strengths and weaknesses, develop proposals for improvement actions and then, at CAF workshops, exchange opinions and discuss the work of the institution from different perspectives.

Significant support to the institutions at the moment is provided by the EU4PAR project experts who moderate and direct the workshops towards the comprehensive and efficient formulation of ideas and plans for work improvement and quality management. The following steps will include developing detailed Action Plans with clearly defined timeframes for the implementation of planned activities and expected outcomes.

        - We help institutions to follow the methodology of CAF. We focus them on joint work and concrete aspects that need improvement. We remind them of the importance of change management, monitoring the effects of certain decisions and the importance of constant improvement in all areas of work - says Tihana Puzić, project expert

Strong customer orientation, identification of critical activities, detailed planning of their implementation, monitoring of changes and results, and strengthening of team spirit are vital elements of quality management in public administration. 

       - Intuitively, each of us knows what and how it should and could be better. Still, we do not have a consensus for everything, and we do not have approval for every process that we estimate could be implemented within a plan. Hence, the workshops are an opportunity to design and introduce more efficient processes later. I think we are on the right track, and I am glad there is enthusiasm from both managers and colleagues who are very actively involved in this - says Katarina Grujicic from the Public Investment Management Office. 

The MPALSG intends that, after the implementation of agreed activities for improvement, it will apply for the CAF label of a successful user, which it will receive if the institution's work is assessed as successful by an external evaluation. Other institutions that opt for CAF as a quality management instrument will have the same opportunity.

The Public Administration Reform Strategy (2021-2030) obliges the Government of Serbia to pilot CAF in 10 institutions by 2025. To meet this commitment, MPALSG, in cooperation with EU4PAR project experts, will develop the capacity to support all interested and committed institutions in implementing the complete self-assessment and improvement planning process under the CAF in Serbia.