The tenth Steering Committee Meeting within the EU funded Project "IPAK - Institutional Support to Anti-corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina", was held on May 28, 2021. It was the fifth SCM organised as video conference.
Participants at the eighth Steering Committee meeting were:
- Mr Karoly SOOS, Programme Manager for Justice Reform and Security, Delegation of the European Union to BiH & European Union Special Representative in BiH
- Mr Zoran JAČEV, Team Leader of the Project Support to Implementing anti-corruption strategies in Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Mr Zlatko MINIĆ, Key Expert of the Project Support to Implementing anti-corruption strategies in Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Ms Šejla ŠARIĆ, Anti-corruption team of the Government of Una-Sana Canton
- Mr Elmir PILAV, Anti-Corruption team of the Bosnian Podrinje Canton
- Mr Semir SOFTIĆ, Anti-corruption team of Central Bosnia Canton
- Mr Luka SEMIZOVIĆ- Anti-corruption team of Brčko district
- Mr Igor ĆORLUKA, APIK
- Mr Jasmin GOGIĆ, SIPA
- Mr Radoš DABETIĆ, ECG
- Mr Željko VUJKOVIĆ, ECG
- Mr Đorđe PUACA, ECG
- Ms Una LAZIN, Project Support to Implementing anti-corruption strategies in Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Ms Amir ĐULIMAN, Interpreter
- Ms Katarina STIPIĆ-KOMADINA, Interpreter
Agenda of the 10th Steering Committee meeting was the following:
09:45 - 10:00 Registration of the participants at the ZOOM platform
10:00 - 10:10 Opening remarks and adoption of the Agenda
- Mr Karoly SOOS, Delegation of the EU to BiH
10:10 - 10:20 Presentation of the Interim report for the period 15.01. – 30.04.2021
- Zoran Jachev, Team Leader of the IPAK Project
10:20 - 10:45 Discussion on the Interim report for the period 15.01. – 30.04.2021
- Mr Karoly SOOS, Delegation of the EU to BiH
10:45 - Discussion on other issues, such as:
- Mr Karoly SOOS, Delegation of the EU to BiH
- Other issues initiated by the members of the Project Steering Committee.
- Opening remarks and adoption of the Agenda
The meeting was opened and chaired by Mr. Soos who, after the welcome address, reminded the SCM participants that the EU has been supporting BiH in the fight against corruption for many years now. Accomplishments are evident in tis area, much has been done, through this project as well, and this commitment and trend should be continued in the future as well.
Mr Soos invited the participants to provide comments to the Agenda and since there were no remarks, Mr Soos concluded that the Agenda is adopted. Mr Soos invited Mr Jachev to present the Interim report for the period 15.01. – 30.04.2021.
- Presentation of the Progress report for the period 15.01 - 30.04.2021
Mr Jachev, after welcoming words, presented all completed activities in the reporting period. In more detail, in this reporting period PT had a lot of tasks and responsibilities that needed to be completed, a total of nine remaining activities, and completed the following tasks. Activity 1.2. Improving the fight against corruption in institutions particularly prone to corruption. The project team carried out this activity as planned, without significant challenges during implementation. A draft final analysis and recommendations for improving the prevention of corruption in institutions particularly prone to corruption were prepared, a Zoom conference was held to present the findings during May 2021, and final recommendations for improving the prevention of corruption in institutions particularly prone to corruption were made.
Furthermore, Activity 2.1 Improving the preparation and implementation of integrity plans in public institutions has also been completed. Draft final analysis and recommendations for improving the preparation and implementation of integrity plans in public institutions were prepared, a Zoom conference was held to present the findings and recommendations on April 28, 2021, and final recommendations were given for improving the preparation and implementation of integrity plans in public institutions, and have been distributed to relevant stakeholders.
Activity 2.2 Support to strengthen transparency and ethical infrastructure in public services at all levels has also been completed as planned, without significant challenges during implementation. A draft final analysis and recommendations for improving transparency and ethical infrastructure in public services at all levels were prepared, a ZOOM conference was held to present a draft final analysis and recommendations for improving transparency and ethical infrastructure in public services at all levels, which was organized on March 2. 2021, and final recommendations were prepared and submitted to all relevant stakeholders.
Activity 2.4-Development of integrated standards for mitigating the risk of corruption originating from the private sector was completed without any difficulties. A draft of the final analysis and recommendations were prepared, and a Zoom conference was organized to present the findings of the draft final analysis and recommendations on February 2, 2021, which were subsequently delivered to all relevant stakeholders.
Additional Activity 1: Support to the adoption and dissemination of the ACS BiH and AP 2020-2024 was implemented without significant challenges, but with significant adjustments in its implementation, given that the ACS and AP 2020-2024 have not yet been adopted, and some of tasks are related to their adoption. Therefore, PT, in close coordination with the EU Delegation and in cooperation with APIK, made the following adjustments in the implementation of this activity: Instead of printing and disseminating BiH AKS and AP 2020 - 2024, it was decided to translate their versions and make corrections in three local languages. Since the original Draft of the ACS and AP BiH was prepared in a combination of local languages, it was consolidated before translation into other languages. Apart from this, all other activities were carried out according to plan. The short-term expert was identified and engaged to prepare a detailed budget for the implementation of ACS BiH and AP 2020-2024 with the distribution of costs by institutions at the state level. A detailed budget for the implementation of AKS BiH and AP 2020 - 2024 has been prepared with the distribution of costs by institutions at the state level. PT has decided to expand the scope of this activity by calculating the costs for the implementation of AKS BiH and AP 2020-2024 for other levels of government as well. Translation and / or proofreading of the Final Draft of BiH AKS and AP 2020 - 2024 was done for Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian and English language and submitted to APIK.
Additional Activity 2: Support to the preparation of ACS and AP at other levels of government was implemented as planned, without significant challenges in this process, except for the fact that only a few levels of government have started preparation of ACS and AP for their level of government (Tuzla canton and Una-Sana canton). A new moment in the implementation of this activity were the "Guidelines for Strategic Planning of Anti-Corruption Policies in BiH" prepared by APIK and which are largely compatible with this activity, as they contribute to the capacity of the ACB to prepare ACS and AP. Therefore, PT and APIK cooperated in refining the Guidelines, and PT analyzed the draft Guidelines and provided comments and recommendations for their improvement. In addition, APIK presented the Guidelines together with the draft Model for the preparation of AKS and AP at other levels of government at a training held on 27 May 2021.
Additional Activity 3: Support to improve the implementation of APIK competencies was also implemented as planned, without significant challenges in this process, except for the fact that APIK competency issues overlap with sensitive issues in the current political situation in the country and that there are a significant number issues affecting this issue. Nevertheless, the Analysis of the APIK Law and the analysis of ambiguities, inconsistencies and shortcomings in the regulation, as well as other needs for improvement of the APIK Law has been prepared and will be completed and submitted to APIK in the coming days.
The project also carried out additional activity 4: Upgrading the APIK website with a section on anti-corruption bodies and their activities. Mr. Jačev shared that this activity faced a large number of challenges in its implementation, which is a continuation of similar problems related to it that have lasted for more than a year, but a solution to complete this activity was finally found in cooperation with APIK. Namely, due to the outdated IT characteristics of the current APIK website and the fact that the APIK website is located (together with other institutions and agencies at the BiH level) on the e-government server, there is no possibility of intervention in its current structure. Therefore, the only solution is to create a new website (so-called Subpage) for information related to ACBs and link it to the APIK website by attaching it, as an integral part of the APIK website, which will not be noticeable to the visitors. This will give APIK the ability to easily update this section, with enough capacity to add images, videos and other (in IT terms) "heavier" content, which is not the case at the moment. In addition, due to the allegations of APIK that they do not have sufficient capacity to collect current information on ACBs, PT offered to collect this data and perform the first loading in this additional part of the website with information on ACBs. Also, due to APIK's allegation that it will not be able to cover the costs of hosting and the domain of an additional part of its website, PT agreed to cover those costs as well. Therefore, in addition to these adjustments, this activity was carried out as follows: Short-term experts were selected and engaged to identify the needs and opportunities for upgrading the APIK website and to carry out the identified needs for upgrading the APIK website; The parts of the APIK website that need to be modified and / or added, the analysis of the status of security requirements for web hosting and setting the task for designers have been identified; Data were collected for new / modified sections of the APIK website from the current website of IPAK, AKT and other possible sources; The update of the APIK website by publishing the collected data on new / modified sections and testing the operation and efficiency of updating the website will be completed by the end of May 2021. Training for the maintenance of this new part of the APIK website, collection, coordination of collection and publication of information on ACB activities will be organized in May 2021.
Mr Jachev gave the floor to Mr Minić, as Mr Minić was in charge of organizing and carrying out this additional activity 5: The Art of Fighting Corruption - Art Poster Competition.
As Mr Minić presented, this activity was carried out as planned, without any significant challenge, by PT performing all planned tasks: A working group was established consisting of representatives of APIK, CSOs, media and faculties of arts, EUD and the project team, as well as the Commission for the selection of works of art. Procedures for the work of the selection committee, categories and criteria for the selection and evaluation of works of art and procedures for the implementation of the competition have been prepared. The call for applications was prepared and published through the media, the project website, the websites of other organizations related to this activit. Applications were collected, a jury was selected based on clear criteria and procedures, and works of art were selected to be awarded and / or presented to the public. The project organized a public exhibition and award ceremony for selected and awarded works of art at the Art against Corruption competition on May 22, 2021, at the Hotel Evropa in Sarajevo.
- Discussion on the report and adoption of the report
Mr Soos invited the participants to proceed with the discussion on the presented report and the adoption of the report.
Mr Ćorluka used the opportunity to thank the Project for all the work, support provided and very usefull documents produced, stating that the project has fully met all the expectations and fulfilled all obligations. Such support is very necessary for efficient fight against corruption and Mr Ćorluka expressed hopes for continuous EU support in such way and new AC projects. Mr Ćorluka wished all the participants success in their future work on fighting corruption.
Mr Gavranović also thanked and congratulated the project for maximum transparency, efficient work and efforts, repeating that the project has succeeded in operating on the highest level, has been flexible and adopted to all changes and challenges in the most professional way, leaving very usefull outputs for the future.
Ms. Šarić continued, thanking the project for its very good and successful work and the help it provided during its implementation, expressing regret that the project is over, but also hoping for similar cooperation in the future.
Mr Softić thanked the project, expressing that he was personally enriched through experiences and cooperation with the project, as well as the hope that similar projects will be available in the future.
Since there were no other comments or objections to the presented Progress report, Mr Soos concluded that the Report is adopted by the SCM and invited the project to continue with presentation of lessons learned, inviting the participants to share recommendations and conclusions that will be included in the Final report.
- Lessons learned and conclusions
Mr Jachev shared that the project vas very complex for implementation, with fairly limited resources. The project made the best of what was available, divided the activities into those that could be done by the project itself and implemented them while allocating the available days to other non-key experts in order to achieve maximum efficiency and productivity.
Mr Jačev continued by sharing with the SCM some general recommendations and lessons learned that can help in future work. One of the necessary things is to adjust the ToR to human resources - adjust the number of days and available staff.
Every project must have a certain amount of flexibility. The ToR is made well in advance, a year or two before the start of the project, and then in the inception phase the project goes through adjustments. In the field, there are big differences from what was written and foreseen in the project task, through which this project also went. We had to adjust our activities at the very beginning to the real needs in the field, add more concrete work and reduce the theoretical work that was planned. Clear communication for users and clear definition of needs are necessary in future projects. Beneficiaries very often see donor projects as someone who can take over a part of their work instead of what their real intention is, which is to provide support in the work and implementation of activities.
Mr Jačev continued that better preparation and announcement of the project to the beneficiaries would be very useful.
Another part that greatly influenced the project and its implementation was the constant adjustment of the project, in cooperation with the EU Delegation and beneficiaries. This project introduced new activities in the Inception report itself, merging some to achieve savings to cover the cost of new activities, such as funding 3 workshops for the development of AKS and AP BiH, and it is recommended to always leave enough space for flexible adjustment.
Throughout its duration, the project has always emphasized that in all products and recommendations it is always necessary to go a step further and it has done so. All the recommendations given by the project are bolder and are what is needed, not adapted to the current possibilities, and that would be another recommendation for work in this sector. You never know when the political will will be created to do something, and in those moments you have to be ready, you have to have ready recipes on how to do things.
And the last thing that greatly influenced the work of the project is the large number of activities and events that were carried out and ensuring people to attend all these events, where personal relationship with beneficiaries and participants is crucial. The professional attitude of the project, but also friendly, towards the users and associates made the work in this regard very easy and ensured always good attendance at all activities.
The project believes that the most important thing for the future fight against corruption is the adoption of anti-corruption strategies at all levels of government as soon as possible, as a precondition for other activities in this area, as well as resolving ACB status at cantonal levels. There are developments, the body in Tuzla Canton is professionalized but these efforts are still insufficient. It is also necessary to improve the competencies and capacities of APIK, in order to really fulfill their role.
Coordinated work between AC actors, the international community and society as a whole is the basis for anti-corruption efforts. Better collaboration between projects and the people working on them is also needed. Administrative will is another factor that is very important in this area. Progress in this area is necessary here as well.
Mr Gavranović reiterated that the project gave 100% and fully met expectations and wished everyone present much success and happiness in future work.
Mr Ćorluka confirmed that the project gave 100% and fully met expectations and wished everyone present a lot of success in future work.
Mr Vujković congratulated everyone for the successful implementation, especially the beneficiaries for great cooperation. Mr Vujković thanked the project team and the EU delegation, sharing that this project as a whole was a great lesson learned for ECG.
Mr Soos concluded that lessons learned were provided as well as recommendations and they will be included in the Final report. Mr Soos congratulated the project for successful implementation, expressing pitty that there were not more opportunities for personal gatherings and contacts, which are an important part of any development and progress.
Mr. Soos thanked everyone for their participation and contribution and concluded the last Steering Committee meeting.