“Digitalization is crucial for the public administration reform, and it is important that we all accept the fact that it brings a change for the better for all of us”, stated the Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, Branko Ružić, at the Western Balkans Digital Summit.
Ružić participated in the ministerial panel eSerbia and pointed out that digitalization pervaded all segments and was used to facilitate the work of civil servants for the purposes of more efficient provision of services to citizens.
“The best example is the fact that, through eZUP, we have exchanged data 1.5 million times by ourselves, without burdening the citizens”, said Ružić, and added that the digitalization of public administration means saving money, energy and time.
He pointed out that the public administration reform was one of the three criteria on our road to EU, and that digitalization itself should be considered in those terms.
“Administration reform has been initiated because the previous situation was insufferable and outrageous, both in terms of the management of finance, human resources, policies in Serbia, and for our citizens, who used to lose so much in every contact with the state authorities – time, money, patience, and finally trust in the state”, said Ružić.
He noted that the Law on General Administrative Procedure had introduced the obligation of state authorities to exchange data among themselves, instead of requesting them from citizens. Penalties are prescribed for those who act otherwise.
The new Law on eGovernment, he added, obliged the administration to use modern technologies.
“We have transcribed all birth registry books into their electronic form, and, together with the Ministry of Interior, we have started to also transfer data from the Citizenship Records into their electronic form”, said Ružić, noting that the Law on Central Population Register had been adopted, as a single database covering 13 of current records.
He added that it was necessary to also regulate the system of human resource management.
“We have been creating a competency-based public officer system, creating conditions to be sure that the public competition would result in the employment of the best possible civil servant, through a new method of valuation of work, promotion at work, and, of course, professional development, and I am mostly referring to the Academy”, he said.
The greatest challenge, according to him, will be to change the attitudes towards digitalization, and, of course, eliminate the fear that there are not enough capacities and funds for initiation of bigger changes. “That is why it was important to listen, understand and ensure support, especially to municipalities and towns which are the closest to citizens”, said Ružić.
Half a billion RSD have been taken from the Fund for the Local Self-Government Programme, and one of the measures for which they have been allocated is the development of eGovernment.
Ružić said that the Ministry had approved a total amount of 52 million RSD for eight towns and municipalities for the establishment of a single administrative point, so that citizens could, thanks to the digitalization, to complete all administrative matters at one location.