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United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its Separation of Powers Program (SPP), has supported the High Court Council (HCC) and the judiciary since 2010. At that time, USAID and the HCC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which outlines assistance in capacity building for the independent preparation and management of the budget and financial operations for the judicial system, increased transparency and better long-term planning.

USAID’s Separation of Powers Program has focused on helping the HCC build financial independence and increase the transparency of the judicial branch. In accordance with the National Judicial Reform Strategy, it helped HCC assume budget, finance, and planning responsibilities for the judiciary. USAID SPP and the HCC together developed the HCC Strategic Plan and Communications Strategy to help the judiciary with long-term planning and raising transparency and outreach in its daily operations.

USAID’s Separation of Powers Program provided the HCC and the courts with tools automating the budget and financial management processes. The new Budget Planning and Management Information System (BPMIS) system allowed the HCC to better plan and advocate for necessary resources, as well as allocate funds more accurately. In addition, USAID SPP helped develop five operating procedures to better plan and execute budgets for the HCC: the Procedure for Creating Financial Plans; a Directive on Financial Operations; a Directive on Budget Accounting and Financial Reporting; a Directive on Inventory of Financial Assets and Obligations; and a Directive on Internal Financial Controls and Internal Audit. All five procedures allow the HCC.

USAID also developed two additional modules to strengthen the analytical and management capacity of the HCC: Status of Funds Report and Court Profile Database. The Status of Funds Report provides information on how courts execute their allocated budgets; the HCC can use this information for troubleshooting, and to rebalance financial plans to ensure optimum use of resources. The Court Profile contains data on human resources, caseloads, facilities and equipment data for every Serbian court. This database allows comprehensive analysis across the judiciary.

USAID also assisted the HCC in developing a Communications Strategy, which HCC adopted in 2013. The Strategy outlines the HCC’s internal, external, and crisis communications processes and provides guidelines for courts and the Council in conducting their daily work. As part of the improved outreach activities, USAID SPP and HCC worked on creating and launching the HCC’s new website, a tool for increasing public awareness of the work of the Council and the courts.