Should the Government Fund Civil Society’s Participation? The Case of Slovenia
Recently, the Slovenian Government invited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide feedback on its Guidelines for the Cooperation of the Government with NGOs. The Slovenian Evaluation Society (SDE) maintains that the Guidelines should be developed in partnership with civil society, adhering to principles of transparency and legitimacy. Instead of being invited to participate only at the stage of providing comments on a final document, NGOs should be involved in the drafting process.
The Guidelines are designed as minimum requirements rather than standard requirements. As a result, they could potentially lower the level of cooperation achieved thus far.
Since NGO participation contributes to the legitimacy of government operations, detailed provisions should be put in place specifying when it can be claimed that consensus is achieved. This involves specifying the deadline for publication of the Report on Cooperation and its content, especially specifying critical comments from NGOs that were not taken into account.
The Guidelines fail to address the problem of precarious work faced by certain NGOs that provide services to government institutions without compensation. To prevent practices that perpetuate high levels of precariousness for NGOs, the government must recognize the problem of precarious labor and introduce measures such as fair monetary rewards, travel cost reimbursements, or daily allowances for participating NGOs. These measures should be available under certain conditions agreed upon with NGOs, such as exemptions for professional NGOs or NGOs taking part in projects financed by public funds, as well as exemptions for retirees and full-time employees.
In conclusion, the Slovenian Government’s guidelines for cooperation with NGOs should be developed in partnership with civil society to ensure legitimacy and transparency. Measures must be taken to address the problem of precarious labor faced by NGOs working with government institutions, including fair compensation and travel reimbursements.
Note: This text was written with some help from Bing Translate and ChatGPT (editing the text).