The Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, Branko Ružić, passed the Rulebook on Good Practice Guidelines for Exercising Public Participation in the Drafting of Laws and Other Regulations and Acts.
The obligation to conduct consultations represents a novelty in the amended Law on Public Administration, which refers to the establishment of conditions for public involvement during the so-called working phases of preparing draft regulations and implies the obligation to conduct consultations with all relevant entities – other state authorities, civil society organizations, the professional public, as well as with other stakeholders.
This ensures openness and effective public participation in this process in order to obtain and examine certain information, views, remarks and proposals from various entities relating to a draft law for which consultations are being held concerning its preparation.
The Rulebook regulates in more detail the conditions for more successful participation of the interested public in the process of enacting regulations, which ensures transparency, but also improves the quality of the legislative process. It contains good practice guidelines for exercising public participation in the drafting of laws and other regulations and acts, namely the manner of conducting consultations that is adequate in relation to the subject matter of an act.
The competent state administration body is now obliged to publicize the beginning of the drafting of the law and basic information on the planned solutions that shall be proposed on its website and on the eConsultation web application under the framework of the e-Government Portal.
The publication should contain all information related to the draft laws regarding which consultations are being conducted, such as information on the time and manner of conducting other consultation methods that are being organized, contact details of the person designated as the consultation coordinator and reports on the results of the consultation process. Through the application of eConsultation, it will be possible for the competent state administration bodies to conduct certain surveys in connection with the draft laws concerning which consultations are being conducted.
In addition to the above, other ways of conducting consultations include the following: round tables (implies the involvement of the professional public, in order to take a stand on key issues related to a draft law being prepared), focus groups (formed by respondents belonging to the same interest or target group, in order to encourage them to express their views through conversation concerning problems and possible measures to solve them), semi-structured interviews (allows individual access to respondents and discussions on confidential and sensitive topics relevant to data collection and presentation of views that are reluctantly expressed in public), panels (involves the formation of groups of subjects with whom consultations are conducted periodically using questionnaires), collecting written comments by inviting a certain groups of people (implies publishing draft laws and / or related material in order to collect written comments from interested participants within determined deadlines) and participation of representatives of the interested public in activities of working groups dedicated to the preparation of draft laws.
The adoption of this Rulebook normatively completes the orientation of our state toward active participation of citizens and the interested public in the decision-making process by defining general principles and guidelines, which was preceded by the enactment of the Law on Amendments to the Law on State Administration that created conditions for the more successful participation of the interested public in the process of decision-making and creation of regulations, as well as by the adoption of the Law on Amendments to the Law on Local Self-Government, which introduced the obligation for cities and municipalities to consult citizens on the segment of the budget relating to investments, thus resulting in the increase of citizen participation in policy making.