Romanian Angel Appeal takes great interest into the process of delivering efficient both medical and social services to vulnerable groups in Romania. Along our activity, we have observed a set of possible drawbacks in the system that allows NGOs to provide social services, despite being acknowledged that the more the NGOs are involved in this process, the better the vulnerable groups are being served.

According to the Romanian legislation, there is the possibility for the public authorities to subcontract social services to NGOs. This mechanism could make available social services for the vulnerable groups across the country, depending on the non-governmental capacity to license their services and on the bureaucratic endeavour that this process assumes. What is more, not all social services have been through the process of being made available for subcontracting and not all the counties in Romania has the practice of subcontracting these services to NGOs. Despite being a practice that could be of benefit for all the vulnerable groups, all over the country, the Romanian authorities have yet to work on the availability of this process.

According to the Romanian NGO Center for Juridical Resources (NGO specialized in the area of people with disabilities), public authorities pay even three times the cost of the same services provided by the nonprofit sector. What is more, the organization advocates for the further extending of the social services that can be subcontracted by the civic society and for the increase of the costing processes transparency.

 

The process:

Public authorities, through ministries (Minister of Labour and Social Justice, Ministry of Health) establish minimal quality and cost standards for each of the service that is to be subcontracted to NGOs or private services providers. The costs resulted are the minimum necessary funds to finance the service at the minimal standards which are also approved by them. Local authorities can decide whether they can afford higher prices for these services. Bearing in mind the local autonomy, each of the local communities, through the city halls and its local councils will decide what services and the actual costs are to be spent using the mechanism of subcontracting NGOs for social services.

The main legal instrument through which social services are being subcontracted to NGOs is the Law 350/2005. According to Law 350/2005, any association, foundation or religious cult can fill in an application for public funding of their projects. The sums that are to be allocated is decided by local authority and they are not obliged in any way to have money available for programs developed by NGOs. It is a decision made by the local authority, bearing in mind the local budget and the priorities for the community (therefore is a political decision, voted within the local council of the community). After the money is made available in the local budget, the NGOs should apply for funds in a competitive process. After evaluation, the NGOs can be awarded the grant.

Another legal mechanism to contract social services from NGOs is through a public acquisition. If the amount that the public authority will spend is bigger than 3.376.500 lei (706.140 euro), they are required to launch a public call for the NGOs or other private entity.

 

Problems along the way:

 

  •     NGOs’ capacity to deliver social services: non-profit organizations have limited capacity in delivering social services. In the big urban centres, the need for these services overcomes the possibility of the NGOs to reach all the potential beneficiaries.  What is more, the geographical area in which they can deliver these services is rather limited. For the rural areas there is an acute deficiency of NGO. One of the possibilities would be for the NGOs to extend their activity, but this would mean an initial massive investment which most of the NGOs cannot afford.

NGOs have a limited capacity to deliver licensed social services: most of the NGOs with activity in the area of HIV or TB do not have the required license to be recognized as official providers of social services.

At national level, there are only two NGOs delivering direct services for TB patients. It is obvious that they do not have the capacity to reach all the potential people that should need services, at a national level. What is more, in Bucharest there are only three NGOs that deliver harm reduction services for people who inject drugs. Bearing in mind that we currently have appreciatively 9.300 IDU/year, as stated by the National Antidrug Agency, the three organization have the capacity to reach only 4.000/year.

 

  •     Weak capacity for the NGOs to organize as economic agents in case they

would like to participate to a public auction for social services. The process is a

highly bureaucratized one and requires high standards of legal an economical

knowledge. What is more, the burden on the association in applying and delivering

the service under this form of contract requires a lot of bureaucratic endeavours which most of the NGOs lack.

 

Therefore, in order to optimize the services delivered to the vulnerable groups there is a need for support and coaching for NGOs. Optimizing the legal and institutional frame would be a much more difficult endeavour and would imply the delay of the process of serving potential clients. Therefore, we consider that the most efficient instrument into increasing the number of people benefiting from essential social services is to increase the capacity of NGOs.

 

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