The establishment of the Anti-Corruption Agency – an autonomous, independent state authority – was initiated by constituting the ACA Board (April 15, 2009). The Board was entrusted with passing the Rules of Procedure regulating its work, and establishing criteria and conducting an open competition for the selection of the director and deputy director. The ACA Director and Deputy Director were selected on July 19, 2009, whereupon preparations for providing basic work conditions were initiated, as well as the preparations for the start of comprehensive implementation of the Law on the Anti-Corruption Agency, set for January 1, 2010. Shortly afterwards, Rules on ACA Job Systematization were adopted, providing the basis for the 2010 budget plan and the procurement of additional work space.
During the first year of its work, the ACA simultaneously worked on the implementation of the Law and on establishing a professional service (three open competitions to fill the vacancies in the ACA service were conducted), as well as on setting up the main technical preconditions for the smooth functioning of the ACA. New computer equipment was provided for all employees, in addition to hardware used in the first half of the year to publish the database of public officials’ title deeds, which is continuously being developed.
An important part of the ACA’s work during the first year was informing public officials of its activities; consequently, around ten working meetings were held on five occasions throughout Serbia, involving public officials and civil servants, representatives of the authorities of territorial autonomy, local self-government, civil society, and the media, covering almost every municipality and town in Serbia.
The Law on the ACA was the first to prescribe misdemeanor fines for violating the provisions of this law; thus failure to report and giving false information on property were to be punished by imprisonment and a ten-year ban on holding public office, if the public official in question were sentenced to prison.
The ACA was established as an institution with a strong preventive role that had been lacking in any authority which had theretofore dealt with corruption. Its main objective is improving the situation regarding this area, in cooperation with other public authorities, the civil sector, the media, and the public in general. Among other things, the ACA is authorized in this preventive sense to work on development of integrity plans for, and in cooperation with, state authorities. These plans – an innovation in our legal system – are aimed at reducing and eliminating risks of the emergence and development of corruption.
The ACA was also given competence to oversee the financing of political parties. However, due to deficiencies of the Law on Financing Political Parties that were revealed in practice, the drafting of a new Law was initiated; it is due to enter parliamentary procedure by the end of 2010. This law will enable a considerable increase in transparency of reports on financial affairs. In the meantime, the ACA modified the forms for reporting on election campaign expenses. Working on the new Law is important, especially in view of the fact that in 2010 the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) produced its third evaluation. This evaluation provided subject-specific coverage of political party financing and incrimination of corruption. Moreover, their legal framework analysis is an indicator of actions that need to be taken in this area.