At the end of October 2018, the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Policy announced a competition for the development and implementation of an educational package for teachers on the social economy. The funds for the implementation came from the European Social Fund.
Two submitted projects received a positive assessment – one prepared by the Association Czas Przestrzeń Tożsamość from Szczecin, the other – the Foundation Institute of Positive Education from Warsaw. The budgets of both of them amounted to nearly PLN 1.5 million each. Only one of these organizations could get the money.
June 4 last year it was announced that the first project would be co-financed. The Czas Przestrzeń Tożsamość Association obtained 83.5 points in the competition. After the negotiation stage, it was decided that about PLN 1.27 million will be allocated to the project. In July, the ministry signed an agreement with the association.
Foundation Institute of Positive Education received slightly less – 83 points – and submitted protestwhich in July was not taken into account by the ministry. However, the ministry increased the score and awarded the foundation 84 points. The latter then lodged a complaint with the Provincial Administrative Court in Warsaw.
In September last year, the Provincial Administrative Court stated that “the assessment of the project was conducted in a manner that violates the law.” The court noted that the ministry signed an agreement with another organization, although in the end it was the Warsaw foundation that received a higher number of points.
The Ministry appealed against this decision to the Supreme Administrative Court, which in November 2019 referred the case for re-examination by the Provincial Administrative Court. The Supreme Administrative Court found that the Provincial Administrative Court assessed the ministry’s actions without taking into account all the circumstances.
WSA: The ministry violated the principle of transparency and fairness
In February this year, the Provincial Administrative Court again found that there had been a violation of the law. The judges emphasized that the proceedings conducted by the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Policy violated, inter alia, the principle of transparency and fairness.
“In the opinion of the Provincial Administrative Court in the case, the normative principles of project selection laid down in the above-mentioned provisions of the Implementation Act were violated, which means that the project evaluation was carried out in a manner that violates the law” – we read in the justification.
The WSA noted, however, that the case could not be re-examined by the ministry, because the money for financing the projects had already been exhausted.
The NSA dismisses the complaint of the family ministry
The ministry re-filed a complaint with the Supreme Administrative Court, claiming that “the assessment of the project was conducted in accordance with the standards set out in the provisions of the [na mocy której organizowany był konkurs – red.]”and the reasoning of the judgment was” flawed “.
As the Gazeta.pl portal established, in July this year the Supreme Administrative Court finally stated that “the cassation appeal has no justified grounds”.
The NSA also found that although the ministry had the right to sign an agreement with the Szczecin association without waiting for the appeal procedure to be resolved, it was not obliged to do so.
The deadline for recognizing the protest is short (in accordance with the Competition Regulations – 21 days from the date of its receipt), so waiting until this deadline – in ambiguous cases regarding the minimum point differences – seems justified and rational
the court observed.
The Supreme Administrative Court upheld the lawyer of the Warsaw foundation, who stated that “an authority that decides to conclude a contract before the end of the procedure does so on the basis of the risk that another project will score more points” and runs the risk of a court finding non-compliance with the law of such action. “
According to the court, the ministry should organize the competition in such a way that the participants could prove their case in the event of incorrect evaluation of the project, and then obtain funding.
The Ministry, apart from the costs of court proceedings, will not bear any consequences for these decisions.
– We will not get any funds and we will not be able to implement the project that we submitted to the ministry. However, we hope to cooperate with the ministry on other projects
– comments Małgorzata Nowicka, president of the Institute of Positive Education Foundation, in an interview with Gazeta.pl.
– In the whole case, we wanted to point out procedural errors and some shortcomings resulting from the implementation law. It puts organizations in such a situation that even if we are right and we see some shortcomings, we cannot react. The question is whether NGOs exist only to keep quiet and perform tasks, or also to indicate that there are certain errors made in procedures, he adds.
Until June 4, 2019, Elżbieta Rafalska was the minister of family, labor and social policy. Until November last year Bożena Borys-Szopa performed this function. Currently, the minister is Marlena Maląg.