Standard 3.3.1. CSO Engagement in Service Provision and Competition for State Contracts

The Law on Providing Services prescribes that the Government, Ministries, Local Self-Governments can provide services to citizens. However, there is no specific law that regulates the area of CSOs that provide services. Ministries under whose jurisdiction is certain area of work, may issue a license to civil society organizations to provide services to citizens. Further information on licensing is available under other laws. For instance, the Law on Child and Social Security prescribes that Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare may issue a license to CSO in this area that fulfils the following criteria: has been entered in the Register; meets the standards for the provision of the service for which it is licensed, in respect of: location, space, equipment, number and type of professional staff and program of service provision.

The license is issued by the Institute for Social and Child Protection for a period of six years and is renewed in accordance with this Law. If the competent state administration authority, during the period for which the activity license was issued, determines that the service provider does not meet the prescribed conditions, it will initiate the procedure for suspension of the license.

Furthermore, the Law on Consumer Protection defines that organizations that work in the area of consumers’ protection have the right to serve as service providers for citizens in this field. Namely, organizations may, among other, be financed by the state through the public call for financing legal entities in the field of consumers’ protection. In addition, they have the authority to file a class action lawsuit.

There is no regulation that prevents organizations to provide services that are not defined by the law. As stated before, there are some areas in which organizations can provide services, but obtaining license is required. CSOs in Montenegro provide number of services in various areas, but the most recognized ones are: free legal aid, protection of consumers, protection of whistle-blowers, social and children security, protection and providing help to persons with disabilities, education, healthcare, etc.

0 – 20 Fully disabling environment20 – 40 Disabling environment
40 – 60 Partially enabling environment60 – 80 Enabling environment
80 – 100 Fully enabling environment

If CSOs are defined as possible service providers, the same rules apply to them as to other legal or physical entities that may provide same services. Smaller differences in documentation exist, but are subject to different rules of registering the legal entity. For instance, CSO should provide decision on registration within the authorized ministry, but company should provide decision on registration of a company within Central Register of Business Entities. Other significant differences haven’t been noticed.

There are no official data on number of CSOs across different areas that received contracts; number of CSOs that reported receiving contracts per different policy fields; number of CSOs that reported receiving contracts per different legal forms. Respondents of online questionnaire didn’t have much experience with providing services to the state bodies. Namely, only 6.3% of organizations did apply to Calls for contracts on providing services.

Out of organizations that participated in online questionnaire and that provide services (4 organisations), half did not have to register for obtaining license for providing services, 25% had to, while 25% are not sure whether they had to do so. Moreover, 25% believe process for obtaining license is burdensome and long, 25% believe it is not, while 50% are not sure.

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