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Polonca Kovač

Abstract

Law and innovation are oft en seen as antagonistic notions, particularly in administrative (authoritative) relations. Th is paper addresses this issue based on the regulation of administrative procedures, since they represent core public-administration activities in contemporary society. Hence, they need to be codified and implemented, both on the EU and national levels, in a more flexible and party-oriented way, even though still preserving legal certainty. The author argues that Europeanisation contributes to innovation in administrative procedure law, with institutions such as alternative dispute resolution or one-stop-shops. In order to explore the potential drivers of and barriers to innovation, particularly in Eastern Europe, a survey and several structured interviews were carried out in Slovenia as a case study. Th e results reveal that the culture in the region is legalistically driven and thus hinders innovation, even that which has already been introduced in the law. Consequently, a key obstacle to be addressed in future measures is the mind-set in public administration rather than a pure legal change.

Open access

Polonca Kovač

Abstract

The article presents the current organization and the past and potential development of administrative procedural law - particularly the General Administrative Procedure Act - in Slovenia from its independence in 1991 till 2011. The author critically evaluates the regulation of general and special administrative procedures in Slovenia in light of the insufficient overcoming of traditional patterns. Namely the regulation in place overprotects the rights of parties and rather neglects the efficiency of administrative procedures as a whole. The evaluations are supported by the development of the theory of governance, radical changes in society and the need for a shift in the understanding of state / authority in the system in Slovenia and other countries (e.g. Finland, Croatia or the USA). The Slovenian system is firstly analyzed using the historical method and later on, it is assessed in terms of the efficiency of administrative procedures as regulated and run in administrative and judicial practice by means of a SWOT analysis. Additionally, particular emphasis is put on the comparative analysis of the Slovenian system to internationally recognized principles in administrative matters, deriving from the experience of the ECHR, the EU Ombudsman code and EU member states, and theory. The main finding is that in comparison, the standardization of parties’ rights far exceeds basic rights of defense as framed in constitutional terms which in several ways diminishes the overall efficiency of administration. The author therefore proposes the basis for a multilevel model of governing administrative relations de lege ferenda, intended to regulate in more detail the procedural status of the parties on one side and simultaneously the pursuit of public interest on the other. Based on the latest scientific findings, the criteria for differentiation include: relevance of the subject, degree of conflictuality of interests, need for rationality and efficiency of administration, and the position of the authoritative body. The objective is to move administrative procedural law from the margins of modernization of the public administration as found in the development of the Slovenian system in the last two decades and to make it its driving force, instead.

Open access

Polonca Kovač

Abstract

The author discusses various aspects of ethical conduct, referring to both individual officials and the public administration as a whole, in the sense of good governance. She underlines that the main ethical challenge for officials (seen as executors of public tasks) is to be responsive to the needs of the society in any type of activity falling within the competence of administrative bodies, such as designing new regulations and deciding on specific administrative matters. Considering the significance of public administration for the development of the society, the foundations of ethical conduct of officials are largely defined already in administrative law. The work of the officials is not mechanistic but rather involves the creation of law - although at a purely instrumental level - and is therefore responsible and ethically determined. Officials fulfil their mission as long as they act lawfully within the scope of their powers and comprehend the purpose of law, which is to protect general social benefit and public interest, together with human or legally protected rights and individual interests. Within the limits of their powers and regulations, they are called to solve life issues. Thus, they contribute to democratic and effective administration. The paper provides an analysis of selected aspects, dilemmas and practices arising at the level of individuals and the Slovene administrative system as a whole, at the intersection between work ethics, administrative law and good public administration. In terms of legal principles and ethical codes, Slovenia is considered a rather successful European country; nevertheless, in order to raise general awareness and put the officials’ ethics in practice, a more proactive approach to governance and management is needed.

Open access

Polonca Kovač

Abstract

Rationalization and democratization of public governance and administrative organization are processes affecting all countries. The article critically evaluates the reorganization of local administration in Slovenia, aimed at increasing its effectiveness through integrative approaches at the state and local-self-government levels. Local self-government in Slovenia comprises 212 municipalities combined into 58 local state (general territorial) administrative units. Such organization is rather fragmented and weak despite several reorganization attempts since the mid-2000s. The recently planned reform for 2014 - 2015 tries to overcome the drawbacks typical of Slovenia, such as the two-tier public administration established in 1995 and the resulting economic local non-efficiency. The analysis of the Slovenian institutional landscape in local public administration can serve as a lesson since the strategic reorganization of political and administrative societal elements should - in addition to the search for local democracy - encompass administrative integration toward citizens, businesses and civil society to eventually achieve good local governance.

Open access

Polonca Kovač

Abstract

Th e article analyzes the historical development of public administration as a discipline in research and study programs situated between legal and administrative sciences in Slovenia as part of the Central European political and legal environment. Public administration in Slovenia was initially, and still is, primarily law-driven, but an integrative and furthermore interdisciplinary approach to public-administration studies is considered to be an inevitable trend due to its complex character. However, as indicated by the presented results of research on Slovene administrative study programs and teachers’ habilitation areas, combined with the classification of researchers’ scientific achievements, carried out in order to establish the state of the art of administrative science, research and study programs are developing rather in the framework of administrative-legal science. Hence, as grounded by historical, comparative and empirical analyses of the present study programs, habilitation and research areas in Slovenia, critical assessment of their design and classification leads us to draw several conclusions. Primarily, law is not sufficient, although, simultaneously, in the CEE area it is an indispensable basis for the study of a law-determined public administration. Both mentioned imperatives should systematically be taken into account in future (supra-) national field classifications as well as in the planning and accreditation of study programs and research in the field.

Open access

Polonca Kovač

Abstract

Openness and transparency are general administrative principles, closely related to lawfulness, accountability, responsiveness, participation and other elements of good administration. Despite their long existence in theory and legal documents, both at the European and national levels, the content and the relation of and among the respective principles is blurred. This applies even in single-case administrative procedures through the classic rights of defense, such as the right to access to information or the right to be heard. The paper explores these dimensions based on comparative analyses of the EU Charter, the OECD principles on good administration and governance and the Slovene law on administrative procedures, proving compliance between Slovene and European regulation. Furthermore, a consistent definition is proposed. Transparency is thus understood as parallel to participation. Both are seen as subcategories of openness which, as the sum of the rights of defense, is based on lawfulness and leads to accountability and ethics. However, as revealed by an empirical survey in 2015, the Slovene public administration sees these issues in a rather formal way. Finally, suggestions are made for future legislation and its implementation in terms of open and good administration.

Open access

Žiga Kotnik and Polonca Kovač

Abstract

Public administration (PA) as a discipline and public governance as a closely related concept have been developing constantly and rather rapidly in recent years. A particularly lively progress is characteristic of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), owing to its post-communist legacy and subsequent transition. This paper outlines the mainstream topics of PA development within The NISPAcee Journal, which covers the CEE region and beyond. The principal objective of the paper is to systematically and quantitatively codify a series of text documents that comprises 142 articles published between 2008 and 2016 in The NISPAcee Journal, in order to identify the characteristics of PA development in the region. The paper investigates three hypotheses: first, whether the quality of the articles changed throughout 2008 – 2016; second, whether The NISPAcee Journal attests a multidisciplinary orientation in terms of scientific contributions from different disciplines, and third, whether The NISPAcee Journal reflects the West-East knowledge transfer among PA academia. The three hypotheses were tested against seven analytical dimensions. The research findings reveal that governance is the prevailing cognitive paradigmatic approach of The NISPAcee Journal. Europeanisation is the common thread of almost all articles, with a particular emphasis on the ideological elements of the Neo-Weberian and New Public Management doctrines. Qualitative methodology is still the prevailing research method, and the occurrence of mixed methodology is rare. The topical orientation of the analysed manuscripts is very diverse. A considerable emphasis is placed on the analysis and development of PA as a discipline. The majority of researchers originate from CEE countries and focus their studies on Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the Caucasus. Scientific partnership between the Eastern and the Western academic worlds is still scarce. Given the low level of exchange of best academic practices between Western and Eastern Europe, research results indicate the need for an increased internationalisation of the NISPAcee Journal and a more holistic approach to tackle the future challenges of global and regional PA and public governance more adequately.

Open access

Polonca Kovač

Abstract

Introduction: Agencies are among the key contemporary public organizations, prospering within reforms carried out worldwide to increase professionalism and rationalism in public administration (PA). Hence, countries have been establishing agencies and delegating them public tasks in order to achieve expertise-based instead of politically-driven and thus more efficient public policies. In such context, the present article addresses the most important strategic documents related to public administration reform (PAR) in Slovenia, analyzing their goals in terms of agencification and the main implementation results and gaps.

Research Design: The research is dedicated to exploring the governmental approach to agencification as a key aspect of PAR. It analyzes (1) the main PAR strategic documents on public agencies in Slovenia since the mid-90s, and (2) the perceived implementation of structural and managerial autonomy as the declared goal of agencification. Combined research methods are applied, including descriptive analysis, regional comparisons, structural interviews among representatives of public agencies and their parent ministries, and selected statistical data analysis.

Results: As proven by different research methods, the hypothesis whereby agencification goals in Slovenia are largely achieved as part of PAR documents in terms of autonomous organizational structure was confirmed. A more elaborated agencification in PAR documents relates to higher implementation of autonomy.

Conclusion: Nevertheless, the professionalism of Slovenian agencies is still an on-going process, particularly as regards the efficiency implementation gap. As for the future, a more consistent PAR incorporating cross-sectoral policy on agencies is required to pursue the development of a democratic and efficient PA.

Open access

Polonca Kovač

Abstract

Inspection, as the authoritative supervision of private liable persons to comply their activities with sector-specific laws, should ensure the full implementation of public policies. Slovenia adopted the Inspection Act (IA) in 2002, in order to conduct efficient inspection, and simultaneously guarantee the defence rights of the supervised parties pursuant to the fundamental principles of the EU, the national Constitution, and general Administrative Procedure Act. This article addresses the search for a balance between general codification and sector-related specifics as stipulated by the IA, applying normative, constitutional case law and comparative methods. Special attention is dedicated to the IA rules regarding participants, their legal protection and stages of respective proceedings. It has been concluded that the most of the IA specifics are justified in order to efficiently serve the public interest. This study reveals that the Slovene IA can represent a role model for efficient yet democratic supervision in other MS as well.

Open access

Polonca Kovac

Abstract

Good public governance requires participative networking to tackle the worst societal problems. Redefined administrative procedure as an instrument that should ensure efficient public policies is one of the key approaches in this respect. The objective of this article is to show, based on qualitative research methods, that in modern public administration, procedure is attributed a much different role than under the traditional Rechtsstaat doctrine. It has been evolving towards becoming a dialogue tool for the state and the citizens, increasingly recognised in Neo-Weberian and good governance models, also in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Administrative procedure’s modernised codification in CEE countries, grounded in public administration theory, EU and case law, is in this article seen as of the utmost importance to apply in the region to develop its governance capacity. The article addresses said issues and provides a specific outline as to how to systematically and proportionally codify administrative procedural law in this sense on a national scale. The author proposes a concrete, holistic outline to redefine respective codification within contemporary public governance models. This outline incorporates minimum joint fundamental principles, e.g. the right to be heard. Following the principle of proportionality, in addition a more detailed codification is suggested by more formalised proceedings in the case of the collision of legally protected interests. The principles, such as participation, would apply for any administrative acts, resulting from legislative policy-making or single-case decision-making, and judicial reviews thereof alike. Such an approach should ensure a balanced recognition and effective protection of parties and public interest.