Civil Service Commision under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The initiative concerned itself with the reform of recruitment system for the civil service. Before its implementation, each state agency recruited through their own systems and procedures. There was no opportunity for ordinary citizens to participate in the competition to enter into the civil service and no central point of information where interested applicants could get information about vacancies. Job descriptions for any positions were not existing and citizens did not know what a vacancy is about. There was no general testing and, therefore, also no way to prepare for the testing. This way, objectivity and transparency could not be guaranteed, no standard level of qualifications for the entry into civil service could be secured. The number of applicants was low due to the intransparency of the recruitment process and due to a general lack of knowledge about the opportunities of employment in civil service. Because of the described features there was no way to obviate discrimination because of gender, religion etc. among applicants. This led to a point where vacancies could not be filled with eligible persons with the best qualifications. Before the initiative, citizens were in general ill-informed about the whole system of the civil service. And as the civil service regulating legislative system was not properly worked out and little-known, the social confidence in the state policy in this sphere was noticeably low.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
One area of work of the Civil Service Commission is dedicated to the improvement of the merit-based recruitments system for civil servants. The CSC developed a recruitment system by using ICT based systems. The objective was to enable decentralized testing of candidates in regions while using centralized IT and controlling systems of CSC. A standardized IT-supported recruitment mechanism was developed and installed which allows for transparent selection of candidates and filling of vacancies. The mechanism is objective and only based on achievements, not allowing for any positive or negative discrimination of candidates. It has turned CSC into one of the advanced users of e-governance applications. The IT-supported recruitment mechanism helped to introduce national standards in the areas of job descriptions and selection procedures. The mechanism also functions as a neutral filter through which a certain level of formal qualifications is secured. Thus, it allows to randomly place the candidates participating in the testing exam in the testing rooms; while randomly selecting the tests in accordance with positions the candidates apply to and put it into one test digest – “Examination test” – consisting of 100 test tasks; randomly change place of the tests and their answers from the “Examination Test” on each test block. Here is the possibility to give similar or different tests to the candidates applying for one position and adding and managing usage markers in the test tasks used in the testing. Currently 8000-10000 applicants express their interest (in general about 47 000 citizens were registered as candidates within years of 2007-2013). The trust of the citizens in a transparent recruitment of civil servants has risen as applicants are chosen because of their performance. Nowadays CSC is known as the one of the most transparent state agencies. According to the “On-line Transparency Report of State Institutions” prepared by the Media Rights Institute (NGO in the field of the promotion and defense of freedom of expression and freedom of information in Azerbaijan) web-site of the CSC twice took the 1st place among web-sites of state and judicial bodies as well as municipalities. One of the significant contributions of this initiative is its orientation to the citizen-centered approach. Citizens can get detailed information about vacancies in the civil service system (including the name of position, official wage, position classification, service functions, education and specialization requirements etc.) can be found on the CSC website. In addition to the personal applications admission service, there is active hotline by which citizens can get appropriate information and they get an opportunity to file complaints. All citizens, according to their own capabilities, have an opportunity to participate in the competition for entrance into the civil service. During the whole recruitment process until the vacancy is filled, all stages of the process of recruitment into the civil service (announcement of vacancy, quantity of registered persons, the results of exam, the names of winners of competition, the names of persons who would be appointed to the position) is openly accessible for everybody. In order to prevent any action of violence of law or any act of corruption or any direct relationship between participants and state agencies have been encoded during the whole process of recruitment and disclosed only in the final stage. Also, all candidates are informed about the different stages of the competition by SMS or e-mail.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Improvement of the HRM in CS is among objectives of the Commission. CSC is known as a creative and innovative agency. The success is based on creativeness and innovations. For the first time (February 2007) in Azerbaijan job description (name of position, salary, service functions and etc.) of each position was reflected in an announcement concerning to the recruitment to the civil service. Indicating such information in advertisements gives an opportunity to the candidate to choose the position according to his/her knowledge and skills and analyze the terms and requirements of vacancy. For the first time CSC has switched the testing for the CS recruitment to computerized system (February 2010). In order to simplify and facilitate applications of citizens for CS recruitment, to assist citizens living in the regions and to prevent wasting time and money, relevant amendments were made to the Law “On Civil Service” in March 2011. And since that time citizens have been registered online. In order to increase objectivity and transparency in interviews and to strengthen public control to recruitment NGOs were involved to recruitment process. Since the 2007 they have been participating as observers, independent specialists were involved to interview process as interviewers (May 2010).

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The CSC was established for improved organization and management of the CS, the introduction of an single state policy for public service, and to administer recruitment to CS based on competition and transparency. The Commission‘s activity focuses on youth involvement in the CS, the codification of CS laws, the development of CS strategy, the establishment of a training centre for civil servants, and the development of a national training strategy as well as establishment the rules of assessment of civil servants functions, development the Commission's Web Portal, and the development and expansion of e-services rendered by the Commission. December 2006 –beginning of establishment of the test bank for recruitment competition and preparation of job descriptions; January 2007– criteria for evaluation of candidates during the interview defined; February 2007 – standard announcement form for recruitment competitions developed; February-June 2007 – first competition on civil service recruitment was held; October 2007 – reserve staff formation started; November 2007 – beginning of video recording of interviews for recruitment; December 2007 – automatized announcement generator for filling vacancies; March 2007 – centralized data base on civil service positions developed; February 2008 – the first interview was conducted; January – February 2008 – 19 prior training themes were defined in the result of a survey carried out among the civil servants of central executive state agencies; April 2008 – the first training for the civil servants on the theme “Ethic conduct rules and service performance appraisal” was held together with the Council of Europe within the framework of the project “Support to the Anti-corruption Strategy of Azerbaijan” (AZPAC); May 2008 – the first “HR management” training course for the heads of HR departments of state bodies was held abroad together with the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ); September 2008 – general requirements for filling vacancies were approved; October 2008 – new model of general and internal interview for filling administrative positions was included into the legislation; 2008 – for the first time training for local executive power bodies and local and regional divisions of the central executive power bodies were held in all regions. Trainings were organized under the Project Document on “Good Governance through Civil Service Reform: Implementing MDG 9 (draft SPPRSD 2006-2015)” between Commission and UNDP. January 2009 – establishment of an appeal commission for investigation of complaints of persons dissatisfied with results of the tests and interviews; June 2009 – the CSC was assigned to conduct the test examinations for recruitment in state bodies, carry out evaluation and determine passing scores for administrative positions; June 2009 - passing score in the test examination for the 6th - 7th classification of administrative positions lowered from 80% out of 100% to 75%, and for the 8th – 9th classification of administrative position from 80% out of 100% to 70%. September 2009 – general requirements of holding of vacant position providing for general requirements on education, working experience and required minimal skills were adopted. February 2010 – for the first time, vacancies in judicial bodies were announced for a competition; interview programs were prepared for better self-preparation of candidates and placed on the CSC’s web site; April 2010 – test examination was conducted by the CSC for the first time using computer. During the test exam, the candidates’ general knowledge, including logical thinking and knowledge on Azerbaijan‘s history, geography, culture and contemporary international relations was tested; May 2010 – independent experts were started to be involved in interviews as interviewer in order to ensure interviews are carried out in a more objective and transparent way; May 2011 – for the first time candidates have been registered fully online. 2012 – Codification of CS legislation has been started.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The solution was contributed and implemented by the CSC. The CSC was founded in 2005. Today it may be considered the driver of change for the reform of the CS in Azerbaijan. One of its concrete aims is to contribute to good governance by improving the basics for transparent and citizen-oriented practices in Azerbaijan's civil service. In September 2001 two decrees of the President were published: "On approval of the Rules on preparation and adoption of test samples for test examinations holding for recruitment to the civil service in state bodies" and "On approval of the Rules of the recruitment to the civil service in state bodies by means of competition". The solution described was actively supported by the Presidential Administration as it was one central element in the implementation of the decrees. NGOs have accompanied the establishment of the e-recruitment system and they have the right to participate in the interviews with the candidates as observers to monitor the compliance of rules and regulations since 2007, and as interviewers to participate directly in comprehensive assessment of candidates’ potentials, knowledge and abilities since November 2012. This, in fact, is a very specific feature of the new recruitment system. The CSC partially drew on international cooperation projects, notably as supported by the European Union and the Federal Republic of Germany and UNDP, to implement the solution. Germany supported the initiative through the GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH - German International Cooperation) project “Reform of the Civil Service” which run from August 2009 –June 2013. GIZ provided technical and organizational advice through long-term and short-term national and international consultants. The approach focused on capacity development with an emphasis on developing human resources and promoting cooperation – through training measures and fact-finding visits – and on the organisation of specialist international events.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
First of all, study visits were organized for 10 employees of the CSC to see experience of other countries (the Canada, Estonia, France, Ireland, Netherlands, United Kingdom etc.). Based on gained experience, processes were revised, some changes were made in order to achieve maximal level of transparency as in the testing as interviewing. In order to qualify the HR staff for conducting job interviews they received on-the-job short-term trainings which were delivered by foreign experts – professionals in this field. Regarding the technical facilities, to be able to conduct the testing, computers (130 computers and 6 servers) had to be procured for three testing rooms Special software for the testing had to be developed which was adjusted to the specific requirements of the recruitment procedure in Azerbaijan. Furthermore, systems which function as test generator and test converter had to be created. A recent development is that the CSC is able to provide on-line application for vacancies. This saves time and budget of both candidates and CSC. Only those candidates who successfully passed the testing have to submit copies of documents (diplomas, health certificate, etc.). Some resources for technical assistance and equipment could be mobilized through international cooperation projects, notably as supported by the European Union and the Federal Republic of Germany and UNDP.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
There are several outputs that contributed to the success of the initiative. All this outputs are connected with the openness and transparency in the recruitment process. Here we show five of them. Firstly, detailed information about the vacancies such as position title, classification, wage, working address, service functions, requirements, etc. is placed in the announcement. Indication of such information in announcements gives a citizen an opportunity to choose a position according to his\her knowledge, abilities and interests by analyzing vacant position requirements and terms. Secondly, testing bank and list of used sources as well as interview programs are placed in the website of Commission along with advertisement. This allows candidates to prepare for testing and interview gives sufficient time; also, this gives all candidates equal opportunity and serves to the provision of transparency. Thirdly, test exam are taken on computer and each candidate gets its score immediately before leaving the testing room. They are allowed to check their right and wrong answers behind the computer. Fourthly, there is video recording and presence of observers (representatives of international organization, mass media and NGOs) during interview. In order to increase objectivity and transparency in interviews the independent specialists (among high qualified university teachers, researchers and representatives of NGOs) were involved to interview process as an interviewer. Finally, there was established an appeal commission for urgent respond to applications of candidates being unsatisfied with interview results and its comprehensive consideration thereto. An appeal commission considers application of a candidate with his/her participation and takes relevant decision. Now everyone can follow the testing process live entering into the website of the CSC.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Regular focus grup discussions and surveys among stakeholders (candidates, civil servants, state bodies, interviewers, citizens and NGOs) are conducted. Software on recruitment process has analytical tools which gives an opportunity to analyse all states of recruitment process (identification of vacancies, development of job descriptions and requirements, announcements, testing, interview and appointment, reserve staff. CSC conducts comparative study of all competetions on different aspects (general, gender, age, education level and directions etc.) and developes and applies policies on eliminating shortcomings. CSC also has online platform where citizens share their opinion on civil service issues, including recruitment process. Taking into account the results of surveys, statistical information and proposals by stakeholders, CSC works on improvement of recruitment system.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
One of the great obstacles which had to be overcome was the very low trust which citizens had into the transparency and fairness of the civil service recruitment process. Some citizens even did not know that such process existed. In order to make the civil service attractive for qualified applicants this trust had to be earned through a transparent, continuous and reliable recruitment process. Therefore, awareness raising campaigns were organized, e.g. meetings with students, participation in trade fairs in Azerbaijan, etc. Survey polls were created on the website of the CSC to animate people to participate in the processes. From the recipient side, among many state bodies there was also great skepticism that the recruiting through the CSC would result in a good selection of candidates. In the beginning the institutions were very hesitant to give up their former independent recruitment procedures. Their doubts and wish to cling to old behaviors had to be overcome as well. The support of the Presidential Administration as well as the proven quality of the selection results helped to gain the support the state institutions. Today, more than 120 state bodies fill their vacancies through the CSC. Another obstacle was the fact that the legislation in the field of civil service, while adopted, was not implemented at a desired level. So, trainings were delivered for representatives of state bodies on HRM, legislation, etc. Setting up their own requirements on education, working experience and required minimal skills for holding positions state agencies put obstacles in the way of graduating students. Relevant actions were undertaken to determine general requirements for citizens willing to apply to vacant positions in civil service. The obstacle was removed by a General Requirements of holding of vacant positions which was approved by decision of the Cabinet of Ministers

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The CSC developed and implemented the strategy of the described initiative with support of other major and minor state bodies of Azerbaijan. In order to get prepared, surveys were made among non-governmental organizations, mass media and citizens to get their ideas and comments on processes going on in this field. The main elements of the strategy behind the initiative were 1) transparency and equality, provision of simplified participation in a competition; 2) application of standard approach to filling positions; 3) provision of different passing score (So, if the candidates applying for the administrative positions corresponding to the 5th classifications could not pass the score defined for administrative position corresponding to the 6th – 7th classifications, but met requirements of the administrative positions corresponding to the 8th-9th classifications, then they may participate in the interview stage of the competition for holding positions corresponding to the 6th – 7th classifications. Appeal commission operates to comprehensive and operative investigation of appeals of a candidate dissatisfied with the test result and making relevant decision.) and possibility for re-submission of documents in order to attract citizens to positions in regions. Prevention of all acts of violence, including acts of corruption in the recruitment process into the civil service by the CSC is the first and the main benefit. Each highly educated citizen of the Republic of Azerbaijan who participated in competition or interview realting to civil service recruitment knows very well that the process is open and transparent and the main and the single basis of becoming civil servant is his/her knowledge and capacity. Equality of candidates in all stages of competition or intervew process have been guaranteed. All necessary information is given in the announcement, testing and interview programs were placed on the web-site of the Commission. test exam are taken on computer and each candidate gets its score immediately before leaving the testing room, the interview is recording, online observation of test exam, functioning of an appeal commission, reflection of the results of all stages on the website of Commission and so on increase the trust, faith and confidence of citizens to the civil service, recruitment to civil service as well as to state itself.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
According to the legislation this recruitment is carried out by the Civil Service Commission under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The process if financed by the state budget. The procedures for civil service recruitment have been confirmed by a decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan in June 2009 and thereby have been established as a standard recruitment process. Tens of thousands of candidates for over 200 state institutions have already been recruited according to the new IT-supported procedures. The initiative has been transferred into a legally binding procedure which can only be changed by order of the president. Therefore, it is only fair to say that the initiative is already truly and sustainably embedded in the civil service legislation of Azerbaijan. The positive recognition of the CSC as a service provider in the sphere of e-recruitment among citizens as possible candidates as well as by the state bodies as recipients spread already across the borders of Azerbaijan. Interested delegations from Afghanistan and Turkey came to inform themselves about the recruitment system itself as well as the process of its implementation. The system itself can be easily replicated in other countries.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The introduction of the e-recruitment system in Azerbaijan had deep-rooted effects. It positively contributed to a rising trust of the general public in the civil service. This trust transcends from the transparent and fair recruitment of civil servants to the public administration in general. If one believes that a civil servants has been recruited because of his/her qualifications (and not personal relations) one is also more likely to trust into a citizen-oriented public administration. The introduction of the e-recruitment system also added to the fact that from then on more professional and qualified personnel could be hired as civil servants. This is due to the fact that the system is objective and only based on achievements and qualifications, not allowing for any positive or negative discrimination of candidates. It allowed to introduce a standard level of qualification necessary to enter the civil service.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Civil Service Commision under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Narmin Zeynalova
Title:   Acting Head of International Relations Sector  
Telephone/ Fax:   (+994 12) 465-87-93
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   K.Rahimov 874
Postal Code:   AZ1110
City:   Baku

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