Training on Social Media in Public Administration of BiH Successfully Implemented

— On Wednesday, 20 July 2016, a training of civil servants on use of social media in communications of the public administration bodies of BiH was held within the activities of the Programme for Strengthening of Public Institutions in BiH. Objectives of the training were to create common understanding about the potentials that the social media creates for the public institutions, to improve the capacities of civil servants in charge of communications and to develop individual institutional proposals for launching of improving social media communications.

Training was held by Ines Bulajić, who presented to the attendees from seven public institutions the challenges and opportunities that social media present to the public sector, presented good practices in public relations and social media content creation. During a practical exercise held within the training individual examples from institutions were discussed. Presentation on internet tools which facilitate the processes of managing social media presence was held by Melisa Tolja Mešić.

 

 

Elvis Mujanović, GIZ Adviser in the Programme for Strengthening of Public Institutions, presented the reasons why GIZ supports the efforts of the institutions for more effective and more efficient strategic use of social media in communications, accentuating that social media present opportunities for improvement of the dialogue of the government with the citizens, improvement of the work transparency and the opportunities for explaining the decisions taken by the public institutions to the citizens. As an example of previously provided support to the institutions in this are Elvis Mujanović presented the communications of the Directorate for European Integration – where the Programme during 2014 supported the development of the Online Communications Strategy, social media content publication plan, creation of content such as infographics and other visuals, social media advertising, organisation of a prize competition on the topic of EU integration of BiH, as well as the organisation of a social media day, i.e. first tweet-up event organised by a public administration body in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Furthermore, Mr Mujanović presented examples of good practices from the public sector bodies in Germany as well as the social media efforts of the Programme.

Participants of the training were the representatives of the Public Administration Reform Coordinator's Office, Directorate of European Integration, Agency for Statistics of BiH, Agency for Development of Higher Education and Quality Assurance, Civil Service Agency of BiH, Information Service of the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, and the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption and Coordination of the Fight against Corruption.

This training represents one of the measures within the thematic are Communications and Knowledge Management that are aimed towards the capacity development of the public institutions in the field of strategic communications and are in aligned to the objectives of the public administration reform in BiH.

Overview of Results in 2015: Proactive Transparency in Public Administration in BiH

Through the thematic area of Communications and Knowledge Management the Programme for Strengthening of Public Institutions in BiH supports four beneficiary institutions (Public Administration Reform Coordinator's Office – PARCO, Agency for Statistics of BiH – BHAS, Directorate for European Integration – DEI, and Agency for Development of Higher Education and Quality Assurance – HEA) in improvement of strategic communications which includes improvement of transparency of their work, enhancement of cooperation with the civil society, capacity building in the field of communications, introduction of new tools and approaches in practice, such as strategic communication with the citizens via social media.

Measures in this area are based on objectives and measures of the reform area Institutional Communication within the public administration reform in BiH. In March 2014 the Programme supported coordination of activities with the civil society stakeholders in the process of advocating the membership of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Open Government Partnership (OGP). At this occasion concrete proposals were developed for measures which can be supported by the Programme and which were harmonised with the principles and commitments of the Partnership. One of those measures is increase in the proactive transparency in the beneficiary institutions.

During preparations for the implementation of this measure it was found that it was necessary in the first step to define what proactive transparency means and why it is important as well as to define the standards of proactive transparency that correspond to the actual situation and needs. It became also apparent that it was necessary to define this framework in joint efforts with the members of civil society organisations and thus the representatives of Transparency International BiH– TI BiH, the Centre for Social Research Analitika, and the Centre for Investigative Journalism – CIN were actively included in the implementation of this measure.

 

The Programme supported a series of workshops (first one on July 30th, second one on August 25th, and the third one on September 4th, 2015) during which representatives of the four beneficiary institutions, the three civil society organisations as well as the representatives of the Information Service of the Council of Ministers, Agency for Prevention of Corruption and Coordination of the Fight Against the Corruption, and the Institution of the Ombudsman for Human Rights developed two key documents:

  • Policy of Proactive Transparency in Public Administration, a policy document that represents a well-argued, professional basis for launching the initiative for improvement of proactive publication of information as well as it provides for clear guidelines and recommendations for actions in this area. You can download the document in Bosnian here, in Croatian here, in Serbia here. The document was also translated into English (download here).
  • Standards of Proactive Transparency in Public Administration, a document that precisely formulates standard information for proactive disclosure, okument koji precizira standardne informacije za proaktivnu objavu, broken down according to the types of information and maturity levels. The standards were defined in accordance with the best practice in this area and with the modern needs. Document in Bosnian can be found here, in Croatian here, in Serbian here as well as in English here.

 

Both documents – as well as the gained experiences of all involved organisations – were presented through a public campaign on proactive transparency that was supported by the Programme. During the campaign You Have the Right to Know, implemented from mid August until mid October 2015, additional contents were developed in order to present the proactive transparency initiative to the public, among others:

  • animated video Transparency in Public Administration was developed to present the initiative, policy document and next steps to be taken within the initiative
  • 4 infographics were developed to show the efforts of the beneficiary institutions in improvement of their proactive transparency
  • 4 information leaflets were prepared with information about individual institutions and the proactive transparency issues
  • 4 thematic open-doors days organised in the four beneficiary institutions: PARCO dedicated its Open Doors Day to the issues of public consultations (link in BCS only), DEI dedicated it to the issues of children's rights and the EU integration process (Facebook link), HEA focussed on the cooperation and dialogue with the student associations (article in English), and BHAS on cooperation with the academic community (media story in BCS only).

Crowning of the campaign was organisation of the Conference on Proactive Transparency in Public Administration on the occasion of the International Right to Know Day, September 28th, 2015. The conference was opened by the Public Administration Reform Coordinator Dr. Dragan Ćuzulan, Director of HEA Dr. Husein Nanić, Acting Director of TI BiH Lejla Ibranović, and the Programme Manager Reinhard Lüke. The conference successfully gathered around 80 participants, mostly representatives of public bodies from the BiH level as well as numerous media and CSO representatives. Round table on proactive transparency and in cooperation with TI BiH a panel discussion on broader issues of FOI and OGP were held within the conference.

 

 

This conference, however, did not represent the end of this initiative but rather its beginning. Beneficiary institutions chose during the conference to improve their own proactive transparency in the following year and according to the jointly developed and presented standards. Already in the weeks after the conference the institutions showed that this commitment came to life and, for example, the following month the media recognised the progress made by PARCO (link in BCS only).

Furthermore, the initiative was presented to the members of the supervisory team for the reform area of Institutional Communication and it is the intent of the Programme to support the dissemination and adoption of the developed policy document and the standards. Representatives of the beneficiary institutions will promote proactive transparency and achieved results from their own practice and the Programme will enable further exchange of experiences between the representatives of public institutions and the civil society organisations.

 

Communication of the Public Administration is Effective Only When It is Proactive and Strategic

The managers and communications officers of the four beneficiary institutions of the Programme for Strengthening of Public Institutions in BiH have attended 21-24 April 2015 a training on strategic communications. One of the messages from these workshops is that the communications of public administration with its various audiences can be seen as football game where the public plays continuously and thus creates the situation where the same is expected from the administration itself. Constant communications, imminent to the democratic socities, in today's information society is facilitated by the social media, mobile devices and apps so that there is no reason for public institutions not to use these communication tools that – beside their many other advantages – also can help save up on the constantly scarce budget resources.

The public and especially the media are able to find the way to the information of public significance and hence the proactive communication of the administration is a must. It is up to the institutions whether or not this information will the authentic and on-time and whether as such will help strengthen the public trust in their work. This implies the conclusion that effective communication of public bodies beside being proactive also needs to be strategic.

During the training an overview of main communication challenges of the public institutions was made; such challenges often are common to many administrations across the world. Among these challenges is the current positioning of communications within the organisations, limited human and financial resources and resistance to the use of new communication channels in everday practice. The participants also had the opportunity to jointly develop a public campaign adjusted to the everday conditions and environment of institutions in BiH.

Experiences and recommendations for improvement of strategic communication was transferred by Marguerite Sullivan, one of leading experts in communications who has extensive work experience in the U.S. public administration.

Training was developed and implemented within the thematic area of Communications and Knowledge Management of the Programme for Strengthening of Public Institutions, implemented by GIZ on behalf of German governement. Beneficiries in this thematic area are four public institutions in BiH: Agency for Statistics of BiH, Agency for Development of Higher Education and Quality Assurance, Directorate for European Integration and Public Administration Reform Coordinator's Office.

Source: Directorate for European Integration

First Social Media Day of the Directorate for European Integration Held

Yesterday, 29 September 2014, Social Media Day was organised in Sarajevo by the Directorate for European Integration (DEI) with support by the Programme for Strengthening of Public Institutions in BiH. This event gathered in a relaxed atmosphere and in a dialogue the active and influential social media users in the country, representatives of media, employees of the Directorate and the representatives of GIZ. Director of DEI Ms Nevenka Savić addressed the participants and stated, among other, that recently conducted video competition that ran under the theme which invited to think of What can Bosnia and Herzegovina bring into the EU? used exactly social media for its communications.

“We often talk about what the European Union brings into BiH, so we wanted to find out what we could actually also bring into the EU by joining this Union”, said Ms Savić at the occasion.

Three videos were awarded valuable prizes that were handed out to the winners during this event. The importance of social media in communications of public administration was addressed by Ms Jesenka Hadžajlija, Head of DEI's Group for Promotion.

Online community was invited to participate in the event virtually by using the official hashtag #DEIsmDay.

Prize video competition and the Social Media Day are only part of the cooperation with the Directorate for European Integration within the thematic area of Communications and Knowledge Management of the Programme for Strengthening of Public Institutions in BiH. The goal of these activities is improved, two-way, and modern communication on processes of European integration – processes which affect all citizens of BiH.

You can follow the work of the Directorate at the following social media:

MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNICATIONS GROUP VISITED THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM

The members of the Group for Communications from seven state institutions participated in a study visit to Great Britain from 22 to 27 September 2013. The visit was hosted by the Cabinet Office of the UK Government with the purpose of familiarisation with the methods, procedures and standards of communications of public institutions in this country. Beside the Cabinet Office, the participants also visited the 10 Downing Street, British Parliament, Cabinet's Office Shared Communications Service, Civil Service Reform Programme, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Department of Education, Government Procurement Service, Office for National Statistics and the Westminster City Council. The visits to these administrative bodies were focused on gaining insight into the best practices and examples of successful communications, such as strategic planning of communication campaigns, outreach towards and cooperation with the communities, citizens and interest groups, cooperation with the private sector, rationalisation and sharing of the resources, as well as on building strong capacities for communications in public administration.

This visit enabled the representatives of the Bosnian and Herzegovinian institutions to gain direct insight into the daily work of organisations which have a long tradition and a great reputation in communications not only in the UK but also worldwide. Based on the visit numerous ideas have been already developed for the improvement of communications in the B&H public administration and the inter-institutional group for communications within the Programme for Strengthening of Public Institutions will intensively work on these issues in the future.

Apart from sharing knowledge, experiences and practices, the hosts generously offered the group members many useful contacts, resources and documents which will be of extreme practical value for the future work of each group member and of the group as a whole.