Public Administration Reforms in Slovakia: Limited Outcomes (Why ?)

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Abstract

The goal of this paper is to document and to analyse public administration reform dynamics and outcomes in three selected areas – transparency and accountability, civil service and local self-governments.

The high level of potential access to government information in Slovakia does not “produce” increased accountability, predictability and also does not effectively serve as a tool to control corruption. We argue that citizens are not only victims, but also accomplishers: their tolerance for corruption, excessive bureaucracy and rentseeking is confirmed by many existing studies.

Concerning civil service reform, Slovakia shows a substantial reform reversal towards politicisation and centralisation after 2001, which clearly threatens the fundamental features of democratic governance. Soon after the EU accession in 2004 major regressive changes took place, and the Civil Service Office was abolished in 2006. The new legislation in force from 2017 (forced by the EU conditionality) should return the Slovak civil service back on the right track – let us to see.

With regard to self-government the reforms aimed towards the establishment of more independent local and regional self-government. However, the major issue here is the extreme fragmentation on the municipal level – almost 3,000 municipalities in the country, most of them bellow 1,000 inhabitants. Many studies confirm that amalgamation (or at least functional amalgamation) is necessary – but there is no political will to start it.

What are the main lessons from the Slovak case ? The information provided indicates that the Slovak Republic belongs to the “standard” group of CEE countries – after the first wave of democratisation reforms immediately after 1989, most of the later changes were realised “thanks to” external motivations and pressures – and not always really welcomed. The specific issue, however, is the decentralisation reform in 2000 – 2005. This change, providing really fragmented local self-government by extra rights and responsibilities, was internally driven, with positive results from the point of view of self-government principles, but with many hurdles caused by too large a number of too small municipalities.

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