Citizen participation in MI: Mission (im) possible!

The main issue which united representatives of trade unions, professional organizations and NGOs in terms of public order and security, is that the “security” service provided to citizens, is not effective and does not meet their needs. The discussion about the parameters and expectations of what should the service be has not taken place – as citizens, and with trade unions and professional organizations. Reasons for the lack of discussion about MoI are many but the main ones are:

  • The concept of about MoI’s functions has been changed with every new government;
  • The system is closed and does not create real opportunities for citizen participation in decision-making, and the citizens are not motivated to participate, because their knowledge and ideas of MoI are often based on myths and prejudices that are inherited in each generation;
  • Representatives of political and professional leadership in the Ministry of Interior, who take MoI as an institution of power, whose part is to ensure public order and security, often are overweening to citizens even arrogant sometimes. In many of the decisions taken, we can see and demonstrated elitism to the citizens, as the Government officials they do not understand the real problems of the institution, do not know the system and therefore they are not allowed to tell to MoI what security is and how it can be guaranteed.

That is why the police system becomes more rigid, more encapsulated and sacrifice more cruel its employees. This is happening on a background of permanent reduction of the quality of  “security” service and increased number of unsatisfied from the MoI’s work  citizens to whom is said they are complaining are reasonless and exist only because they do not understand “the complex matter of security.”

Rigidity of the system is due to many reasons, some of which are:

  1. MoI is an institution which implements functions for prevention and combat all types of crimes, guarantees public order, protects national security, ensures border control, regulates migration processes, protects financial interests of the European Union, works on fire safety and protection of the population etc. Most of the activities require the classification of information, which in itself is associated with limited access of nongovernmental organizations in the preparation and implementation of programming documents. The need access to the information to be limited is understandable, but it is used as a reason the institution to be closed for citizens’ monitoring of the overall policy of the Ministry. Under the pretext that certain policies, decisions and actions are classified, most of the structures of civil society are isolated, the motivation for participation is decreased and form attitudes in people that to be MoI monitored evaluated requires specific expertise that only certain people possess. Thus the majority of the representatives of civil society are deliberately isolated and a range of non-governmental organizations and experts who have proven experience and expertise are allowed to participate in policies’ development, but these experts and NGOs are not actively working with the civil society and thus their proposals the vision for reform and expertise to be changed reach a very small group of people.
  2. The lack of accessible information, creates conditions for speculation as to the number of employees in the Ministry of Interior, the method for spending of MoI’s budget and it makes possible changes in MoI to be realized which are satisfying certain political parties. Reporting documents published on the website of the Ministry of Interior and promoted in the media are prepared and present information in an incomprehensible way. These documents are published, but not “translated” in plain language to encourage the expression of citizenship and shared expectations of what service the citizens of the Republic of Bulgaria want to receive. This is why the citizens of the Republic of Bulgaria have no real need to participate in the preparation of proposals for changes in the Ministry. On one hand, due to the above reasons, but also arise from the deliberate release of a certain narrow range of experts in the process of information and consultation.
  3. The politicization of the system is one of the main reasons for the lack of action the Ministry of Interior to be opened to the citizens. Because of its nature and function as structure of power and authority the resources are used and maintenance of political and party interests and protection of certain persons / data from a study of the factors causing stress, conducted in 2013. /. The politicization of the system changes the vision of the function and role of the Ministry of Interior – by structure that should provide the “security”, it becomes a structure that supports / sometimes at the cost of repression / achievement of certain political priorities. The politicization of the system contributes to the lack of vision for the development and reform of the Ministry of Interior, as the planning horizon is within mandate of the governing political party/coalition. MoI reform requires both talking about the effects of reform on employees and preparation of tools to assess the quality and effectiveness of the service and the citizens’ satisfaction, which in turn requires the participation of civil society organizations in monitoring and evaluation process. The lack of vision for the development and reform in MoI becomes both employees and citizens hostages and victims of political programs.
  4. Failure of the successful model of institutionalized participation of citizens in reforming the Ministry of Interior. The presence of such a model will allow external evaluation of the satisfaction of the citizens from the “security” service, it will allow a debate on the necessary reforms and means for their realization to be conducted, it will give publicity to proposed policies and will seek an agreement and unification of legislative, executive government, civic, professional and trade union organizations.
  5. Understanding the MoI reform by restructuring and renaming cuts, not as increased efficiency, transparency and ensured decent working conditions for employees. There are currently no understanding at the political level that before starting the process of change is necessary to make an assessment about how much it will cost in terms of the service that MoI delivers. When politicians’ are talking about reform, they usually mean and make a drastic reduction in the number of employees in the Ministry of Interior, without considering the fact that the cuts will burden the welfare system, will increase unemployment and risks certain units and structures MoI to become unable to operate. The mathematical approach and the mechanical contraction of the people is one of the most sinful and destructive reform models as the effect of these cuts is measured only by savings in MoI and reduction of the state, but does not account for the additional load of the other employees in the department, inability to perform her/his obligations due to over-load, ie quality and efficiency of work. This mathematical approach to reduce the numerical strength of the basic structures of the ministry, but it reduces an efficiency in performing the functions of the Ministry. Such an understanding of the reform is a reason for the crisis in MoI, creates conditions for reduction of the effectiveness of the Ministry and increasing citizens’ dissatisfaction with the service that is provided.


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