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

Existing legislation allows CSOs to provide services in various areas, such as education, healthcare, social services which is in line with standards. Existing laws allow CSOs to provide services in a variety of fields, such as education, health, social services. The Law on social Protection allows to CSOs to provide social protection services since 2011 as well as other public and private entities with the obligation to obtain a license, as provided for in Article 64 of that Law.

Article 16 of the Law on Adult Education provides that the organizer of educational activities may also be an association, and therefore CSOs, if they are registered for performing educational activities. Article 17 of this Law provides that only an association which meets the established standards and which has been approved by the competent Ministry may be recognized as a publicly recognized organizer of activities. The conditions that CSOs must fulfill are related to programs, staff, space, equipment and teaching tools.

The Regulation on accreditation, manner of engagement and fees of implementers and implementers of professional development programs in public administration allows CSOs, as publicly recognized organizer of adult’s education activities, provide educational services to public officials.

The Law on Free Legal Aid significantly limits the work of associations that have so far provided legal assistance and support to vulnerable categories. The adopted solutions virtually prevent CSOs from continuing to provide free legal aid, except in cases provided for by asylum laws, domestic violance and non-discrimination.

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

Role of CSOs in the field of health care is not defined in health policy and normative acts. The lack of a clear framework for co-operation prevents a greater role of CSOs in health care. The cooperation of the Ministry of Health and CSOs takes place through the Program of Support to Associations and Organizations which provided financial support in the line 481 to certain CSOs. This Program also includes support to the activities the Red Cross of Serbia.

The Article 130 of Law on the Consumer Protection provides that associations, including CSOs, may perform work in the area of consumer protections if they meet the relevant criteria. The criteria stipulate that the consumer protection must be a core area of work of this association, that they are ineligible and independent from political parties and traders and that the person in a managerial position in the association is not employed by a state body or regulatory body and that he is not in a managerial position in the trade association or in the political party.

Enabling environment has also been assessed when it comes to barriers to providing services that are not defined by law. The legal framework generally does not contain provisions that hinder civil society organizations from providing services not defined by law (“additional” services). According to the Law on Social Protection, CSOs are explicitly allowed to provide innovative services and they are not a subject of stricter requirements in the areas in which they provide services compared to other service providers.

When it comes to the areas for which a preliminary registration is required, CSOs are also allowed to license their services as well as other legal entities from public and private sector. Difficulties and limitations have been recognized in implementation of the Law on Free Legal Aid, which entrusts these tasks only to lawyers and legal services of local self-government units, except in cases of asylum and non-discrimination. Associations are given the opportunity to provide general legal information and to complete forms, as part of free legal support.

The Article 131 of the Law on the Consumer Protection provides that associations working in this area may carry out: informing, educating, advising and providing legal assistance to consumers in exercising consumer rights; receiving, recording and acting on consumer complaints; conducting, independent tests and comparative analyzes of the quality of goods and services and publicizing the obtained results ;conducting research and studies in the field of consumer protection and publicizing the results obtained.

Existing legislation partially met standards regarding additional burdensome requirements on CSOs comparing to other service providers.

According to the Law on Social Protection, CSOs are allowed to provide innovative services and they are not a subject of stricter requirements in the areas in which they provide services compared to other service providers. CSOs may provide activities in the field of social protection, precisely individual social protection services. The process of licensing CSOs as providers in the social protection system is not sufficiently entrenched, given the very high functional standards (in terms of the space for service providing). The license / work permit must be obtained by organizations providing the following community services: day care, home help, halfway house, supported housing, child’s personal escort, personal assistant, rest shelter and shelter accommodation.

Interviewed representatives of CSOs agreed that CSOs as services providers are not involved in any stages of developing and evaluation of services. Furthermore, they are not familiar that even relevant Ministries carry out evaluations. CSOs engaged in social protection area reported that planning services’ provision based on beneficiaries’ needs is missing for years, Centers for Social Work have monopoly on that process and public calls for service provision are created based on their inputs. 

The Law on Adult Education provides the possibility for citizens’ associations to carry out activities of (non-formal) adult education if they are registered for educational activities, meets the established standards and obtain the Ministry’s approval in accordance with this law. The Minister prescribes more detailed conditions regarding the programs, staff, premises, equipment and teaching tools, including the conditions for ensuring accessibility of teaching and programs for persons with disabilities.

The Law on Free Legal Aid prescribes that CSOs may provide free legal aid only to the basic law governing asylum law and non-discrimination as well as within the objectives for which they were established, they may provide general legal information and complete forms, as forms of free legal support. The Law also provides that legal aid providers shall be entered in the Register. Article 6 of the Rules on the method of entry into the Register of providers of free legal aid and maintenance of the Register provides for registration to be made on the basis of an application containing the following information: the association’s name and seat; the sector of responsibility and the goals for which it is being established, information about the person providing free legal aid and the e-mail address of the person providing the free legal aid. The application shall also be accompanied by documents certifying that the association has been entered in the appropriate register and that the person providing the free legal aid has adequate qualifications

The Law on Consumer Protection in the Articles 132-134 provides for the procedure for the registration of an association or alliance of associations in the records of the Ministry. The procedure provides equal conditions and an identical procedure for all entities. The procedure is initiated by filing in an application which contains the name of the association, proof of registration in the SBRA, statute and evidence of fulfillment of the requirements for entry in the Register. Health services area does not contain legal provisions related to this indicator.

CSOs are partially able to obtain contracts in competition with other providers and are engaged in various services. 19 CSOs reported funding through state contracts. MTTT awarded one contract for service provision by CSO in 2019; supported 143 associations respecting the public call procedure, 1 association respecting single tender procedure. MESTD reported that concluded 36 contracts for service provision, but without specifying number of CSOs which participated in it. Ministries didn’t report on the range of fields in which CSOs are contracted. MTTT through public call for the allocation of funds for public interest’s programs in the field of consumer protection for 2019 distributed a bit more than 170.000EUR from budget line 481 to 7 CSOs involved in consumers protection area.

According to register of signed contract for social service providing in local level (Public Procurement Portal), from totally 16 signed contract 15 of them were received by CSOs; one public call for contact signing was suspended. Among signed contracts for health care service providing in 2019 there are no signed contracts with CSOs.  From 6 registered contracts for educational service provision in 2019, none contact was signed with CSOs.

Providing services in health care area by CSOs is financed only on project base, unlike in social protection area – based on tender procedure. There is no procedure for CSOs contracting for service provision; they are not recognized as providers but as “helpers” who have direct access to beneficiaries.

However, when it comes to inclusion CSOs in all stages of developing and providing services the environment is disabling. Interviewed CSOs representatives agreed that CSO as services providers aren’t involved in any stages of developing and evaluation of services. Furthermore, they aren’t familiar that even relevant Ministries carry out evaluations. CSOs engaged in social protection area reported that planning services’ provision based on beneficiaries’ needs is missing for years, Centers for Social Work have monopoly on that process and public calls for service provision are created based on their inputs.  In addition, LSG often tray to finance provision of services by CSOs through public calls for support to their projects, instead through public tender procedure, as Social Protection Law prescribes for licensed service provision.

CSOs dealing with consumers right’s protection weren’t included in all stages of developing and providing services/support for consumers – Public call for financing consumers’ protection association is announced once a year, before prior consultations with provider on priorities and needs; the call targets same topic for a years back.

When prior registration/licensing are required, the procedure for obtaining it is partially burdensome. 15 CSOs (from 19 involved in service providing) consider the process for obtaining license is burdensome. According to the Law on Social Protection Law, CSOs are obligated to be licensed for providing certain social services (daily community services, family accommodation and home placement services). Totally 558 organizations were licensed for providing social services till the end of 2019. 129 of them (almost 20 %) are CSOs licensed for providing social services in local communities. 27 CSOs provide more that one licensed service. Respecting the Free legal Aid Law CSOs have to be registered in official Register of legal aid providers – 18 CSO are registered for providing free legal aid and 21 are registered for providing legal support.

The National Academy for Public Administration made publicly available list of accredited training facilitators –from totally 66 accredited organizations, 13 of them are CSOs. Among 212 registered providers of educational services for adult, only 5 of them (1,9%) are CSOs – 3 associations and 1 foundation. According to MTTT’s official Register, 26 associations and federations are registered for consumers’ protection and this number has been stagnant since 2015)

There is no licensing/certification procedure for health service providing, but persons who are directly involved in service provision have to be certificated by the Ministry of Health. CSOs interested in health service provision (counseling and testing) need to sign Memorandum of Cooperation with territorially competent institution. Integrated socio-health services need to be accredited by State Institute for social protection. Official register of health services providers is missing

Procedure for registering CSOs in area of consumers’ protection isn’t burdensome:  Associations or federations wishing to be registered in the Register have to submit an application to the Ministry. However, it is not clear intense and purpose of prescribing obligation for CSOs to employ one more person with Bachelor degree (didn’t specified in which area) beside Bachelor of Laws.

Institute for Education’s Advancement gives accreditation to CSOs for providing trainings for teachers’, professional associates’ and directors’ employed in educational institutions professional development. List of accredited CSOs is available within Catalogue of professional development programs. Accreditation procedure isn’t burdensome; there is no additional request for CSOs as potential providers/organizers. However, accreditation procedure is repeated every 2 years and there is a need to do it more often.

Interview with Center’s for Education Policy representative.

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