Serbia Justice Functional Review

Internal Performance Assessment > Infrastructure Management

b. Management of Judicial Infrastructure

i. Judicial Infrastructure Investment Plan

  1. The MOJ is in charge of capital investment and other infrastructure expenditures related to judicial infrastructure. The responsibilities of the HJC and the SPC in the planning and allocation of the budget for operating costs for the courts and PPOs were transferred to the MOJ as of January 1st, 2014.
  2. Until the end of 2013, the budget planning process for judicial infrastructure was divided between the MOJ, HJC, and the SPC. The MOJ was in charge of the planning for capital investments, while the HJC and SPC were responsible for the planning of the recurrent maintenance costs. This dualism emphasized the lack of coordination between the Executive Branch and the judicial institutions in planning for infrastructure expenditures, and in the prioritization of the current and recurring maintenance costs. According to the courts, operation and maintenance costs have been neglected by the MOJ, which undermines the sustainability of the capital investments. Further, the introduction of new ICT technologies or different business practices sometimes produces increased maintenance costs, which also require close coordination in the planning of expenditures.

Box 35: Basic Court in Leskovac - How to Secure Sufficient Funds for Maintenance?

In cooperation with the MOJ and the HJC, IMG fully refurbished the Leskovac Basic Court. The total investment for the court exceeded 2 million EUR, and the rehabilitation work lasted for almost 18 months. However, the MOJ responsible for the maintenance of the court has not yet signed the maintenance protocol or set a maintenance budget for this year

  1. The MOJ’s capacity for facility management of judicial infrastructure is insufficient. As of January 2014, the Material and Financial Affairs Sector of the MOJ, headed by the Assistant Minister, is in charge of planning, procurement, implementing, monitoring the realization of the capital expenditures, and maintenance of judicial facilities. The Investment Department, responsible for the management of the judicial infrastructure only has 4 employees, and only the head of the department is a civil engineer. When compared to Croatia, which has 37 employees in the same area (see Box 35), it is clear that the Investment Department is understaffed. Reallocation or recruitment of both additional staff and additional expertise to this department. As a matter of priority, the MOJ should prepare a new organizational structure and job descriptions for new positions in the Investment Department in order to respond to its added responsibilities.
  2. The Section for Investments within the MOJ has developed a database of court facilities in a Microsoft Excel format. The database attempts to catalogue for each facility its year of construction, number of stories and square footage, as well as information on various elements of the court facilities such as roofs, walls, carpentry, elevators, heating, and plumbing. Information on capital investment needs are also noted. Although there are inaccuracies and gaps in the data, the Section tries to keep it updated by requesting quarterly updates from the courts. The database is a good starting point to improve management of facilities. Looking forward, greater staff capacity within the Section would enable the MOJ to ensure that comprehensive and accurate data is available.

Box 36: The Croatian model for organizational structure of the Ministry of Justice, responsible for the management and allocation of resources for judicial infrastructure.

1. Finance and Public Procurement Sector (37 employees)
1.1 Finance Services
1.1.1 Finance Planning Department
1.1.2 Treasury Department
1.1.3 Accounting Department
1.2 Procurement and Material Operations Services
1.2.1 Procurement Department
1.2.2 Material Operations Department

2. Project and Investment Sector (23 employees)
2.1 Project Services
2.1.1 EU Programs and Projects Department
2.1.2 International Programs and Projects Department
2.2 Investment Services
2.2.1 Investment Operations Department
2.2.2 Equipment Planning Department

3. IT Sector (37 employees)
3.1 IT Development Services
3.2 IT Maintenance Services
3.3 IT Logistics Services

  1. Meanwhile, the HJC and the SPC do not have any staff in charge of overseeing the management of the judicial infrastructure. With a plan to transfer the responsibility of budget planning and execution for capital investments from the MOJ to the HJC and the SPC by June 2016, it is paramount that both Councils plan for resources to be available and prepare for this transfer as soon as possible
  2. To strengthen its planning and monitoring capacities, the MOJ is considering the establishment of four detached units of the Investment Department in each Appellate Court. The rationale behind this proposal is to bring the MOJ closer to the real needs of the judiciary, but this will have to be part of the broader reorganization of the sector. In addition, the MOJ plans to introduce an automated system for the collection of information on the status of judiciary facilities. As a base for this system, the MOJ will use the methodology already created by JRGA for data collection for the Misdemeanor Courts.
  3. The disbursement rates for capital expenditures are low. Funds for capital expenditures are planned for each calendar year. The lack of a possibility to prepare and approve multi-year capital investment plans poses a risk to the efficient management of judicial facilities. The data provided by the MOJ in the Table 45 below shows that the disbursements for capital expenditures are often significantly lower than the amounts planned.
  1. Capital investment plans and operation and maintenance costs do not enjoy the same treatment as other judicial expenditures under the MOJ and are particularly vulnerable to being lost in supplementary budget processes. Despite the MOJ’s efforts to develop a multi-year investment and implementation plan, it routinely under-disburses its amounts due to limits on multi-year contracting combined with poor procurement capacity.957 Routinely, the MOF then seizes these funds or requires that they be spent to pay arrears within the sector. As a result, investment plans and maintenance requirements are routinely set back.
  2. In order to optimize the use of space in the courts’ and PPOs, the MOJ should consider the establishment of a facility or building maintenance manager. According to existing law and policy, the facility manager will have to take the primary responsibility of setting management rules and procedures for repairs and renovation. The facility or building maintenance manager should directly report to the Court President, and s/he should be responsible for the maintenance of several courts and PPOs within the same district.

ii. Design Standards and Maintenance Protocols

  1. At this stage, there are no design standards or maintenance protocols for courts and PPOs. This creates a wide range of issues such as inadequate number, size, and type of courtrooms and PPOs, and inadequate access for the disabled. Also, the absence of maintenance standards jeopardizes the stability and working conditions in the judicial facilities. The IMG has prepared a Model Court Guideline, but this standard has not yet been approved by the MOJ and the HJC.
  2. The MOJ should develop design standards for the refurbishment of courts and PPOs. In order to create an instrument ensuring that all future court rehabilitations or new constructions would be of consistent standard and quality, as well as be high in sustainability levels, there is a need to establish guidelines for each section of a court by suggesting minimum rules for design and maintenance, such as:

    • A manual for architectural and construction design of courts and PPOs. The manual should include the prototype design solutions for specific content in court buildings based on jurisdiction, function, and volume of staff, and should be developed through a functional analysis of the users’ needs in the modern judicial system. The manual should include guidelines on judicial buildings in terms of location, parking, surrounding land, facades, access for the disabled, and external and internal labeling.
    • A manual on building maintenance. This manual should contain information relevant to the maintenance and operation of judicial facilities with guidelines and recommendations for regular maintenance of various types of installations in buildings, such as lightning conductor installations, fire installations, steam boilers, elevators, and more in accordance with the prescribed legislation in the country. In addition to the manual, copies of regulations, standards, and norms for maintenance of all types of installations should be included.
    • A maintenance strategy protocol. The MOJ should adopt a maintenance strategy protocol for each individual building. This strategy has to set unique standards for preventive maintenance, repairs, and renovations of the court building in order to prevent deterioration of the building, ensure guidelines for healthy and safe working environment for the employees and users, and ensure an efficient use of the maintenance executive budget. The main task of the court buildings maintenance strategy is to ensure a functional working environment.