By becoming the head of the Institute, Skočibušić made sure to gather around him reliable people and close friends by dividing positions and jobs. Work is now underway to amend the Rules of Procedure and systematization. The aim is, among other things, to now elect the Director of the Institute for an indefinite period of time. Contrary to the provisions of the Statute
In November 2021, Siniša Skočibušić was appointed director of the Institute for Public Health of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina for a mandate period of four years. He was immediately honoured with a salary that was more than a thousand marks higher than the one received by his predecessor. And in order for him to be appointed to this position at all, the conditions of the competition had to be changed first. Just for him. Of course, that is also resolved, because where there is a will, there is a way.
Written by: Sanela KARAICA/ Fokus.ba
By becoming the head of the Institute, Skočibušić made sure to gather around him reliable people and close friends by dividing positions and jobs. Work is now underway to amend the Rules of Procedure and systematization. The aim is, among other things, to now elect the Director of the Institute for an indefinite period of time. Contrary to the provisions of the Statute.
According to the information obtained by Fokus, there are many irregularities in the Institute for Public Health of the FBiH, and to a large extent this was also determined by the federal auditors. In its report on the operations of this institute in 2021, the Office for the Audit of Institutions in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina opened up numerous issues, which were reported by the media. The emphasis was then placed on the disputed procurement of vaccines, but we will be dealing with some other issues in this text.
First, how did Skočibušić get to the director’s chair in the first place, that is, how was he elected from the position of acting director? Namely, before the announcement of the competition, the Ordinance on the requirements regarding the type of completed health faculty that must be fulfilled by the applicants was changed.
The previous regulation required completed specialization in the field of epidemiology or social medicine and organization with health economics or health ecology and hygiene. And the Law on Health Care stipulates that “the activity of public health includes the activity of social medicine and organizations with health economics, epidemiology, hygiene and health ecology, sanitary microbiology and sanitary chemistry”.
This is what the competition for the director, which was announced in 2019, looked like.
Considering that Skočibušić is a specialist in infectious diseases, which is not listed anywhere, the Ministry of Health of the FBiH amended the Rulebook immediately before the announcement of the competition in accordance with its preparation. It is also interesting that the Institute’s Statute, in addition to other conditions, specifies that a person who “has not been criminally punished” can be elected director.
This condition was “lost” in the competition, but that’s why “infectiology” was added.
The Agency for the Civil Service of FBiH told us that the Institute for Public Health of the Federation of BiH is not in the civil service system and the director of this institution is not a civil servant. However, some governments responsible for appointing heads of institutes or other bodies outside the civil service require certificates of non-punishment or non-conduct of criminal proceedings as a condition for the appointment or election of directors. This is the practice in a large number of cantonal public health institutes, but not in the federal one.
AUDITORS WARNED ABOUT THE SALARY
The Management Board of the Institute immediately made sure to increase the director’s salary. According to the auditor, the decision of the Board of Directors for the period from 11/17/2021 to 12/31/2022 determined the director’s salary in the amount of 4.95 of the average monthly net salaries paid in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the previous three months. Converted into KM, it was a net amount with an income tax of 4,940 marks. The previous director was paid 3,894 KM.
– Acknowledging the fact that the Institute is a budget beneficiary, and that the salaries of elected officials and leading civil servants based on the Law on Salaries and Salary Compensation in the authorities of the Federation of BiH are set at a much lower amount than the director’s salary, we cannot confirm the justification of the determined amount of the Institute’s director’s salary – stated the auditors.
They recommended undertaking activities to harmonize the salary of the director of the Institute for Public Health of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the salaries of other managerial civil servants of the budget beneficiaries. That is, approximately, from 2,200 to 2,700 KM.
PARTY AND FRIENDLY EMPLOYMENT
After hiring himself, director Skočibušić made sure to give others the opportunity to get a job. According to our information, among them is the daughter of the current FBiH Minister of Finance and a colleague from HDZ BiH Jelka Milićević.
Ivona Čule, a holder of a master’s degree in chemical engineering, was hired by the director’s decision on May 9, 2022, in the position of “professional associate – graduate engineer”. The contract is for an indefinite period with a trial period of six months.
33 candidates applied for the competition, of which 27 met the formal and legal requirements. 20 of them showed up for the interview, which was held on April 29. After the interview, the commission compiled a list of successful candidates, with Čule at the top, with the maximum number of points. It is known that the second daughter of Minister Milićević, Sanja Đolo, got a job in the Agency for the Water Area of the Adriatic Sea several years ago.
Maja Arapović also got a job at ZZJZ, whom the insiders claim is the wife of Jurica Arapović, an infectious disease specialist at the Mostar University Clinical Hospital and a professor at the Faculty of Medicine in Mostar. At the end of last year, she was employed for a definite time in the position of head of the Education and Research Service. He is a doctor of veterinary sciences.
In the competition procedure, she received the maximum number of points, and the other candidate who met the formal and legal requirements gave up her application. Judging by the current internal organization, published on the Institute’s website, the aforementioned Department for Education and Research does not exist at all.
Admittedly, as Fokus learns, a new systematization is being prepared that envisages the establishment of this service, but the question is why and how the competition was announced in advance, for a currently non-existent position.
Director Škočibušić announced many competitions, and some while he was acting director. Another contested employment relates to the position of expert associate for occupational safety, for one year, with the possibility of extension. A total of 13 candidates applied for the competition, and 11 met the formal and legal requirements and were invited to an interview on July 30, 2021.
The most successful candidate, according to the commission’s assessment, was Edin Bešić, professor of defence and security, with whom the employment contract was concluded.
Without going into the claims of the employees of the Institute that he is a close friend of the director, we will point out other reasons why his employment is disputed. More precisely, this candidate in any other situation and institution would be eliminated at the start of the competition procedure.
According to the Ordinance on the conditions that must be met by occupational health and safety workers, the program, content, method and costs of passing the professional exam, and professional preparation is also prescribed. Thus, among other things, it is stated that the duties of an occupational safety worker can be performed “by a person who has a university degree – VII degree or higher education of the first cycle of the Bologna system of study (which is evaluated with at least 180, that is, 240 ECTS points) from the group of technical, medical and natural sciences”. The candidate Bešić was accepted to this position with a diploma in Social Sciences and has the title “Professor of Defense and Security”.
Damjan Ožegović, legal affairs associate of Transparency International in Bosnia and Herzegovina, emphasizes that the public competition institute itself is so meaningless that it neither guarantees the selection of the best candidate nor in most cases can guarantee any impartiality during the selection.
– The formal procedures are satisfied and the vacancies are not legally disputed, however, it is essentially clear that they were appointed to preferred candidates from the beginning. However, there are cases of admission and employment through public tender procedures, which do not even meet all the requirements of the rulebook on systematization or other acts. The experience of the Center for providing free legal aid, which operates at TI in BiH, is that information about such employment was forwarded to the competent administrative inspections, which most often imposed punitive measures and orders for the termination of working relationships with these persons, that is, dismissal from duty, after establishing the factual situation – says Ožegović.
COMPETITION FOR AN INDEFINITE PERIOD
The Director of the Institute is appointed for four years with the possibility of re-election for another mandate period. This is stated in Article 39 of the Statute. However, according to the proposal of the new work regulations, the version of January 6 this year, which Fokus had a look at, the plans are somewhat different. Namely, in Article 20 (Employment contract with the director) it is planned that this contract can be concluded for a fixed or indefinite period of time.
In this way, the current director probably wants to ensure his position in the long run, independent of political calculations, and for the adoption of this document, he will definitely need the support of the Board of Directors, one of whose members is his colleague Slađana Šarac, head of the Health Ecology Service.
Little is known that ten years ago she was assistant director – quality manager, when Željko Ler was at the head of the Institute. Her task was the accreditation of the Institute’s laboratory, which, judging by the minutes from the Board of Directors meetings from 2014, she did not quite manage.
With the aim of streamlining the accreditation process, the Quality Department was formed in December 2012, headed by Šarac. However, the desired results were missing, and everything was discussed by the Board of Directors. At one of the sessions presided over by Goran Čerkez, director Ler said that a schedule of meetings had been made for the first six months of 2013, which were held regularly, and that “there was no further planning of regular meetings from the quality manager, although the employees in the laboratories insisted”.
He further stated that an anonymous survey was conducted among the employees and that everything pointed to the conclusion that Šarac lacks managerial and organizational skills, and that he will not be able to carry out the accreditation process. After that, her work was handed over to other employees who completed the tasks in record time.
However, times are changing. According to our knowledge, in the new systematization, Šarac will receive even two management positions – assistant director for health ecology and head of the Health Ecology Sector. For the sake of information, the laboratories are precisely within this sector, and we have seen how their capabilities were evaluated earlier.
Transparency International in BiH emphasizes that it often happens that through the systematization of workplaces and changes in regulations related to this topic, the chosen candidate is profiled in advance, which is one of the bigger or more obvious corruption risks.
– Data from the monitoring of public administration reform, conducted by TI in BiH, show that administrative bodies often do not express real needs in planning systematization. The administration often overestimates its requirements for new jobs, which is used as a basis for hiring certain personnel close to management or political parties – said Ožegović.
Two weeks ago, we officially asked the FBiH Public Health Institute for answers and comments on the information we provide in the text. However, they have not expressed themselves until today. If we receive an answer later, it will be published on our portal.