The outgoing Secretary General of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Ranko Ninković has become an officer for defense affairs and civilian oversight of the BiH Armed Forces. This is a new post at the Presidency which was created several months ago at the suggestion of the Secretariat which Ninković headed for the past 11 years.
The Secretariat proposed two out of five-member vacancy commission. Ravijojla Pavlović, the head of Protocol Department at the Secretariat, was the commission’s president while Mirza Holjan, the Secretariat’s secretary of the Department for Organizational and Financial Affairs was a member. The remaining three members were chosen from the state Agency for Civil Service (ADS) list of experts. These are Hamdo Tinjak, the secretary of the BiH Ministry for Foreign Trade and Economic Relations; Sanja Jokić, the head of the Office of the BiH Minister for Finances and Treasury; and Mijo Katana, the head of the Office for the Registry of Mortgages at the BiH Justice Ministry.
Nine other candidates applied for this position along Ninković, but he received the best grades. Pavlović and Holjan refused to talk with the reporters from the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIN) about how they rated their boss at the exams during the vacancy procedure and who recommended them for the commission.
Jobs for Old Hands
The Secretariat of the BiH Presidency prepared a draft of the department’s New Job Classification Decision which slated over 20 new job openings. The decision was passed in May at the end of the Secretary General’s term. Two months afterwards a vacancy for an independent officer was put out.
The same call for applications also advertised for the post of the new Secretary General and two of his deputies. During Ninković’s term no deputies were appointed.
All four posts are well paid. The basic salary for the secretary general amounts to 3,092 KM, and for a deputy of his 2,621 KM, while the planned salary for an independent defense officer is 1,998 KM.
36 candidates applied for the vacancies. Four of them had already worked at the Presidency and they were the ones who got the best grades.
Boris Buha was appointed for the highest office in the Secretariat while Dženan Selimbegović and Mato Zeko were appointed as his deputies. The three of them had worked on short-term contracts in the offices of the BiH Presidencies’ members.
Buha was an advisor for the constitutional and legal issues to the BiH President Nebojša Radmanović. Zeko was an advisor on Diaspora and BiH Veterans’ Issues to Željko Komšić, while Selimbegović was a public relations officer for Bakir Izetbegović’s office.
All candidates need to take a general knowledge and professional knowledge tests. After ADS puts out a vacancy for a job in a government’s agency and the candidates sent the required documents, those who have meet the criteria will go on to testing. First, they will have to pass the general exam for civil servants and then the professional exam with a written and oral part before the commission. At the end of the testing a candidate can collect the maximum of 130 points.
The advisor Buha nearly got it all. The commission gave him 129 points, while Ninković, Selimbegović and Zeko received a little over than 127 points. For the sake of comparison, the second best candidate has won 102 points.
ADS officials say that it’s no wonder that those candidates had the best results because they’d been working in the agency on the same and similar duties for years.
The Law on Civil Service in BiH Institutions reads that the commission members are obliged to resign if they find themselves in conflict of interest.
ADS, which is in charge of the vacancy procedure, said that there was no justifiable reason to ask Pavlović and Holjan to step down because none of the candidates complained of them being on Commission. According to ADS the commission members can be asked to step down if it can be proved that they are biased and prejudiced. Also, it said that the fact that commission members decided on the appointment of their boss was not sufficient ground to question their credibility.
Seventeen candidates who have met the criteria set out by the vacancies decided not to take the exams. CIN reporters got in touch with seven of them.
Some said that they did not take exams because it was known upfront who’d get the job; some said that they were not informed when the exams would be given, and others still gave up citing sickness or family obligations. The Secretariat of the BiH Presidency has not provided data on the number of its employees, but it said in a memo that the department should have 80 employees according to a new job classification. The officials from the BiH Ministry of Finance and Treasury which pays civil servants’ salaries said that “around fifty persons work at the Secretariat”.
ADS put out an internal call for applications for eight new positions a month ago. The Secretariat officials say that these positions will be filled transparently and in accordance with the law. According to the Law on State Service in the BiH Institutions, only civil servants who are working at the agency that is putting out an internal vacancy can apply for it which means that the persons already working at the Presidency will fill these posts too.
CIN published several stories about civil service hiring last year. The reporters found that vacancies were put out pro forma as new job openings were slated for the employees who had already been working in those agencies.
Many Bosnians think that civil service hiring procedures are a waste of taxpayers’ money on expensive procedures as well as of the candidates’ time and money.