The country’s public administration is plagued with numerous problems, with one being the inability to meaningfully and rationally plan the wage payment funds, states Seimas Audit Committee Chairwoman Ingrida Šimonytė.
“Unlike the tradition that has come together over the years to plan based on what has been achieved, that is last year’s fact and then adding some on top,” she said on a Monday press conference.
I. Šimonytė spoke on this when presenting the work priorities of the Audit Committee for the Seimas spring session beginning on March 10.
“We will direct our attention to various flaws, of which there are many in our public life. Also toward the effectiveness of state expenses and to similar things, something the Audit Committee would traditionally do,” she spoke.
The most important questions, according to I. Šimonytė, are linked to horizontal problems, ones which are relevant for the whole public sector and which, on being resolved, could lead to achieving fundamental improvements in quality.
“There are three bars related to state wealth and its resources. I am speaking of financial, material and human resources here,” she said.
Speaking of financial resources, the state budget, the member of Seimas reminded of the last budget system audit prepared by the National Audit Office last year, the oversight of which will be one of the priorities of the committee’s work.
“The government programme implementation plan also features certain measures which are planned to be put in place over the first half of this year already. These are certain decisions which would allow to improve state budget planning, linking it to specific goals and directing funding toward priorities. Respectively also accountability to the public, what is achieved for the funding,” I. Šimonytė explained.
Another discussed factor was human resources.
“The recent National Audit Office report on human resource management is important here, where based on three ministries and subordinate institutions we can make general conclusions on problems plaguing all of public administration,” the politician said.
Šimonytė identified the following problems:
“1. We ourselves no longer know what functions civil servants perform and what do contractors, where do we use the services of one and where that of the other, why we have such differences.
2. Why is the possibility to essentially avoid legislative regulations being created, say regarding conflicts of interest, regarding competitions and other important limitations which are applied to civil servants, but not applied to people working based on contracts.
3. How to meaningfully and rationally plan the wage payment fund, separate from the long-time tradition to plan based on the achieved, that is to say last year’s fact and then adding on some on top.”
I. Šimonytė noted that these questions are also related with the government’s announced ambition to improve public administration, to “thin” public administration institutions and achieve better results with a smaller, but more capable group of specialists.
On the topic of state owned enterprise the member of Seimas noted that one question, that of the support they provide, is already open.
“The deliberations have not yet concluded, we have not received the cabinet’s conclusions, however this question will definitely have to return to the plenary hall during the spring session. Even generally, the questions of state owned enterprise management are particularly important,” she said.
The politician noted that the government programme appears to have certain measures related to state owned enterprise, for example the intention to reduce their number.
“This could be a measure to ease their control and oversight. However it is not a goal in and of itself. The main goal should be that state owned enterprise would generate adequate returns to the owners of those enterprises, the tax payers,” she commented.
The member of Seimas also stressed the benefit of data transparency to economic growth.
“It is a very fashionable and popular topic nowadays and it could significantly contribute to increased rates of economic growth in Lithuania,” Šimonytė said.
Deep flaw – lateness
State Auditor Arūnas Dulkys who also participated in the Seimas press conference outlined several key accents which surface from the content of the reports he is preparing.
“Firstly recommendations which resolve system questions horizontally and systemically should receive a more responsible and responsive impact. We have seen how after the first few reports and recommendations were released, touching upon the internals of institutions or those related to sectors, localities, there was a strong impact, situations greatly improved,” he said.
Nevertheless, according to A. Dulkys, almost a sixth of the recommendations related to legislation do not conclude with results and are left in limbo.
“A preventative source, from which everything begins – budget management questions. The number of recommendations related to it, how we plan the budget, how state investment programmes are born afterward and so on, these are increasing,” A. Dulkys commented.
Finally the state auditor noted that the number of recommendations that are implemented is increasing, however a deep, long-time flaw – lateness – remains.