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6.2. Use of separate human resources management practices for senior civil servants

Senior civil servants (SCS) occupy the highest positions in the civil service and are situated at the critical meeting point between the political level and the bureaucracy. The performance of governments is to a great extent influenced by the quality and the capacity of senior civil servants. SCS are expected to show strong leadership qualities, have far-reaching institutional knowledge and experience on how the civil service works, be politically sensitive, have a deep understanding of the needs of the citizens that they serve and be effective managers capable of leading high-performing public sector organisations.

In recognition of the central role played by senior civil servants, in most OECD countries, they are identified as a specific group and are managed under separate human resources management policies. The composite indicator shows the extent to which separate HRM practices are applied to the SCS in the Western Balkan region. The value of the index ranges between 0 where HRM practices are not differentiated for the SCS to 1 where they are highly differentiated.

Overall, in the region, the HRM practices of the senior civil service are less differentiated, with an average value of 0.34, compared to the OECD average of 0.55 and the OECD-EU average of 0.54. Serbia uses the most differentiated practices for the SCS surpassing both the OECD countries’ and the OECD-EU countries’ averages (0.6). However, in Serbia, in practice the application of these specific procedures is limited due to the fact that a large number of positions are occupied by “acting” senior civil servants.

Three countries in the region – Albania, Montenegro and Serbia – use a separate skills profile for the SCS, while also three Western Balkans – Albania, Kosovo and Serbia – apply a more centralised recruitment process for them. In North Macedonia, the top officials in ministries (secretary-generals) are currently appointed by the minister from existing civil servants of the highest category, without any formal use of competency/skills profile. Montenegro is the only country in which the SCS have higher performance pay than other civil servants while none of the countries identify SCS early in their careers. Overall, the Western Balkan region put much less emphasis on the performance management of their senior civil servants than OECD-EU countries. It happens only in Serbia, while it is common practice in OECD-EU countries (64% using it).

Given the special role that the SCS plays in government and in the development of society, selecting highly skilled senior civil servants and creating the adequate conditions and the motivation for them to do their best need to be an area for HRM reform in the region.

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Methodology and definitions

Data were collected through the 2019 Survey for the Western Balkans on Strategic Human Resources Management in Central/Federal Government. The survey was completed in 2019 in the Western Balkans – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, and in 2016 by all OECD countries.

Senior managers are defined as D1 and D2 managers, alternatively referred to as “senior civil servants” or “top managers”. The word “senior” denotes rank, and is not a reference to age or seniority in terms of length career or tenure. The D1 and D2 managers for which data are presented are adapted from the International Standard classification of occupations (ISCO-08) developed by the International Labour Organisation. For detailed definitions of each levels, see Annex B.

The index on senior civil service is composed of the following variables: the existence of a separate group of SCS; the existence of policies for early identification of potential SCS; the use of centrally defined skills profiles for SCS; and the use of separate recruitment, performance management and performance-pay practices for SCS. The index ranges from between 0 (HRM practices not differentiated by SCS) and 1 (HRM practices highly differentiated for SCS). The index is not an indicator of how well SCS are managed or how they perform. See Annex A for further details on the methodology and factors used in constructing the index.

Further reading

OECD (2019), Recommendation of the Council on Public Service Leadership and Capability, https://legalinstruments.oecd.org/en/instruments/OECD-LEGAL-0445.

OECD (2016), Engaging Public Employees for a High-Performing Civil Service, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264267190-en.

Uudelepp, A., et al. (2018), “Analysis of the Professionalisation of the Senior Civil Service and the Way Forward for the Western Balkans”, SIGMA Papers, No. 55, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/8535b60b-en.

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6.3. Extent to which separate human resources management practices are used for SCS in central government, 2019
6.3. Extent to which separate human resources management practices are used for SCS in central government, 2019

Source: OECD (2019), 2019 Survey for the Western Balkans on Strategic Human Resources Management in Central/Federal Government; For the OECD average and the OECD-EU average, OECD (2016), Strategic Human Resources Management Survey.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934129201

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6.4. Extent to which separate human resources management practices are used for SCS in central government – individual values, 2019

 

There is a group of staff widely understood to be the "senior management"

Policies are in place to identify potential senior managers early on in their careers

There exist centrally defined skills profile for senior managers

Senior managers are recruited with a more centralised process

More emphasis is put into the management of senior managers' performance

The part of their pay that is performance-related is higher for senior managers

Albania

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Kosovo

Montenegro

North Macedonia

Serbia

Western Balkans

 

 

 

 

 

 

● Yes

83%

0%

50%

50%

17%

17%

❍ No

17%

100%

50%

50%

83%

83%

OECD

 

 

 

 

 

 

● Yes

94%

31%

69%

61%

67%

33%

❍ No

6%

69%

31%

39%

33%

67%

OECD-EU

 

 

 

 

 

 

● Yes

91%

24%

64%

64%

64%

27%

❍ No

9%

76%

36%

36%

36%

73%

Source: OECD (2019), 2019 Survey for the Western Balkans on Strategic Human Resources Management in Central/Federal Government; For the OECD average and the OECD-EU average, OECD (2016), Strategic Human Resources Management Survey.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888934129220

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