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Decision in case 1641/2015/ZA on the European Personnel Selection Office’s refusal to allow the complainant to apply under two concurrent competitions for recruiting translators and failure to explain the reasons for applying this practice

Terça-Feira | 17 julho 2018

The case concerned the European Personnel Selection Office’s (`EPSO`) practice of not permitting candidates to apply for more than one concurrent recruitment competition for EU civil servants even where they fulfilled the criteria. EPSO refused to allow the complainant to apply under two concurrent competitions for recruiting translators for the EU institutions, and failed to convincingly explain the reasons for applying this practice.

The Ombudsman found that this practice could have the consequence of hindering the recruitment of the most qualified persons and that, accordingly, EPSO should be able to provide convincing reasoning as to why it has this practice. The Ombudsman found that EPSO´s failure to provide such reasoning to the complainant constituted maladministration. She found also that any continuation of the practice, in the absence of solid reasoning, would necessarily also constitute maladministration. The Ombudsman therefore recommended to EPSO that it immediately review its policy in relation to this practice.

In response, EPSO set up an internal reflection group to conduct a detailed impact assessment of any policy change in this area. The assessment will be presented to EPSO's Management Board by December 2018. The Board must take the final decision. As EPSO is acting on her recommendation, the Ombudsman has decided to close the case.

Decision in case 1333/2015/MDC concerning the decision of the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) to exclude the complainant from a competition on the grounds that his diploma was not relevant

Quarta-Feira | 23 maio 2018

The complainant was excluded in 2013 from a competition to recruit administrators in the field of audit run by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO). He was excluded on the basis that his academic qualifications were not sufficiently relevant to the post advertised. The complainant pointed out in his complaint to the European Ombudsman that several candidates who had been admitted to the same competition in 2010 had diplomas that were the same as, or less relevant than, his diploma. He argued that if the other candidates’ qualifications were sufficient in 2010, then his diploma should be sufficient also in 2013.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that the 2013 competition was the same competition as that originally run in 2010 and that the same criteria regarding qualifications should apply in 2013 as in 2010. The Ombudsman found maladministration by EPSO and recommended that EPSO ask the Selection Board to revise its decision on the complainant’s qualifications.

EPSO refused to accept the Ombudsman’s recommendation without providing

convincing reasons for its position. The Ombudsman therefore closed the case with a finding of maladministration.

Decision in case 1455/2015/JAP on the conditions at a test centre for a selection competition organised by the European Personnel Selection Office

Terça-Feira | 07 novembro 2017

The case concerned the European Personnel Selection Office’s (EPSO) handling of a complaint about the conditions at a test centre for a selection competition for EU civil servants. The complainant had been assigned a computer beside the entrance door, and claimed the disruption caused by people entering and leaving the room negatively affected her performance. Her attempts to have her concerns dealt with by staff at the test centre were unsuccessful and she subsequently complained to EPSO. Dissatisfied with how EPSO dealt with her complaint, she then turned to the Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and requested that EPSO look into the complaint more thoroughly. The Ombudsman’s inquiry team also met with representatives from EPSO and the contractor responsible for managing the tests, and visited a test centre at EPSO’s headquarters. The Ombudsman concluded that, overall, further inquiries in this case were not justified; however, she made a number of suggestions for improvement to EPSO.

Decision in case OI/14/2015/ZA concerning a selection procedure for a post at the EU Delegation to Albania

Segunda-Feira | 10 julho 2017

The case concerned a selection procedure for a post at the EU Delegation to Albania. The complainant was unhappy at not having been shortlisted for the post, as she believed that she fulfilled all the required criteria. She requested information on her application and the reasons why she was not the shortlisted. The Delegation failed to reply to her request in a timely manner.

The Ombudsman inquired into the matter. In the course of the inquiry, the Delegation replied to the complaint, thereby resolving this aspect of the complaint. As regards the decision not to shortlist the complainant, the Ombudsman found the Delegation’s explanation of its decision to be reasonable and closed the inquiry with a finding of no maladministration. The Ombudsman suggested that the European External Action Service should give guidance to Delegations on the need to keep candidates informed where selection competitions have been delayed. The Ombudsman also suggested that the European External Action Service should include, in the ‘EU Delegations’ Guide for Local Agents’, more detailed requirements regarding the type of information to be included in the list/excel spreadsheet drawn up by selection committees.

Decision in case 938/2016/JN on EPSO’s alleged failure to give candidates sufficient advance notice of the examination period for the computer‐based tests in competition AD/322/16

Quinta-Feira | 01 junho 2017

The case concerned the European Personnel Selection Office’s (EPSO) alleged failure to give candidates sufficient advance notice of the examination period for the computer-based tests in a competition. The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that there was no maladministration on the part of EPSO. In the particular case, the candidate was informed of the examination period 3 weeks in advance of its commencement. EPSO - following a previous Ombudsman decision - always contacts candidates at least 2 weeks before the beginning of the examination period.

In the course of this inquiry, EPSO informed the Ombudsman that it has a new practice whereby it publishes an advance indicative timeline for the competitions it organises. This is a development which the Ombudsman welcomes.

Decision in case 689/2016/ZA on the European Global Navigation Systems Agency’s rejection of the complainant’s application for the position of Head of the ICT Department

Sexta-Feira | 27 janeiro 2017

The case concerned the selection procedure for the position of Head of the ICT Department in the European Global Navigation Systems Agency. The complainant maintained that the Agency had failed to assess his application fairly and claimed that the Agency should revise its decision to reject his application.

The Ombudsman inquired into the matter and asked the Agency to clarify a number of procedural matters. Based on the Agency’s reply and her own analysis, the Ombudsman did not identify any manifest error in the selection procedure. Therefore the case was closed with a finding of no maladministration.

Decision in case 969/2016/JN on the rejection by the European Union Advisory Mission Ukraine of the complainant’s application in a selection procedure

Sexta-Feira | 13 janeiro 2017

The case concerned the rejection by the European Union Advisory Mission Ukraine (EUAM) of the complainant’s application in a selection procedure. The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that there was no maladministration as regards the rejection of the application. The Ombudsman further found that a one-level administrative review mechanism is sufficient. Finally, the Ombudsman was pleased to be informed that the European External Action Service has now decided to amend the message it sends to rejected candidates in order to include information on available remedies.

Decision in case 318/2016/ZA on the failure by the Executive Agency for Small and Medium Enterprise to reply to a request for review in a recruitment procedure

Quinta-Feira | 22 dezembro 2016

The case concerned the failure by the Executive Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises (EASME) to reply to the complainant’s request for review following a recruitment procedure for a contract agent.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and asked EASME to reply to the complainant and address her concerns about her exclusion from the ‘reserve list’ of successful candidates. In its reply, EASME apologised for what it described as “an unfortunate event”, which should not have happened, and explained why the complainant had not been included in the reserve list.

The Ombudsman found EASME’s explanations about the complainant’s exclusion convincing. However, she regretted the fact that it had taken EASME one year to reply to the complainant’s request for review, and that it had done so only after the Ombudsman’s intervention. The Ombudsman encouraged EASME to take steps to ensure that similar incidents do not occur in the future.

Decision in case 92/2016/JN on EPSO’s failure to properly address the complainant’s concerns regarding his placement on a reserve list and technical issues with his EPSO account

Segunda-Feira | 19 dezembro 2016

The case concerned the adequacy of EPSO’s responses to the complainant’s concerns that he may have missed recruitment opportunities due to a technical issue with his EPSO account. The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that EPSO’s reply provided in the course of the inquiry adequately addressed the complainant’s concerns. EPSO addressed the technical issue and provided assurances that the complainant had not missed any opportunities.

Decision in case 628/2016/EIS concerning the decision of the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) not to allow the complainant to submit a new application after he failed to pass the first tests

Quinta-Feira | 01 dezembro 2016

The case concerned the decision of the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) not to allow the complainant to submit a second application in the context of a call for expressions of interest which contained no specific deadline for the submission of applications. The complainant sought to submit a second application after failing to pass the test linked to his initial application under the same selection procedure. The complainant argued that EPSO failed to provide adequate replies to his letters concerning (i) the legal basis for not allowing candidates to reapply in selection procedures without any specific closing dates; and (ii) the conditions, including the behaviour of staff, at the test centre in Spain.

In its response, EPSO referred to the conditions set out in the call for expressions of interest as the legal basis for its actions. It also explained that it had investigated the matter concerning the behaviour of the staff at the test centre.

The Ombudsman found EPSO’s explanation to be reasonable and adequate, so the case was closed.

Decision in case 204/2016/DR on EPSO’s alleged failure to comply with the rules of selection procedure EPSO/CAST/P/1/2015

Quarta-Feira | 09 novembro 2016

The case concerned an alleged failure by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) to comply with the rules of a selection procedure.

The Ombudsman asked EPSO to adress the complainant’s concerns as a first step of her inquiry. These concerns related to the alleged provision of erroneous information about the tests under the selection procedure and a material mistake in the letters informing the complainant of the results of her tests. The Ombudsman found that EPSO’s subsequent reply provided comprehensive and reasonable explanations as regards the issues raised by the complainant and that there was nothing to suggest that it did not comply with the rules governing the selection procedure in question. She therefore closed the case with a finding of no maladministration.

Decision in case 911/2016/OV on an alleged failure of EPSO to reply and to delete an EPSO account of a candidate

Sexta-Feira | 21 outubro 2016

The complainant wrote several times to EPSO asking it to delete his EPSO account. EPSO replied that it could not delete his account since two selection procedures he participated in were still open. After the complainant contacted EPSO two more times without receiving a reply, he turned to the Ombudsman alleging that EPSO had failed to reply and claiming that EPSO should delete his account.

Following the Ombudsman’s inquiry, EPSO replied to the complainant. The Ombudsman thus concluded that EPSO had settled the complainant’s allegation. In its reply, EPSO also informed the complainant that the data retention period for the two selection procedures he participated in had not yet expired and that, therefore, it could not yet delete his EPSO account. The Ombudsman found no maladministration in this respect and thus closed the case.  

Decision in case 535/2014/JAS concerning the European Personnel Selection Office’s alleged discrimination against candidates without doctoral diplomas in a call for research contract agents

Segunda-Feira | 26 setembro 2016

The case concerned a selection procedure for contract agents organised by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) in 2013. Candidates in such selection procedures must first meet certain eligibility criteria. Candidates who meet these eligibility criteria are then evaluated on the basis of selection criteria. The best candidates are then placed on a reserve list.

The complainant met the eligibility criteria, which included the need to have either a doctoral diploma or at least five years professional experience as a researcher. However, he was excluded from the competition after his application was compared with other candidates on the basis of the selection criteria. He then complained that the selection criteria had favoured candidates with a doctoral diploma, while the Call for Expressions of Interest had implied that a doctoral diploma would be treated as equivalent to five years of professional experience.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and concluded that there had been no maladministration. Eligibility criteria establish a minimum threshold that all candidates must meet. Selection criteria then serve to allow the selection board to identify the best candidates from amongst the eligible candidates. It is clearly within an institution’s discretion to decide which selection criteria to use as long as they are not manifestly inappropriate. The Ombudsman concluded that the choice of selection criteria in this case had been perfectly reasonable. As regards the complainant’s argument that the selection had not been transparent, the Ombudsman noted that the selection criteria had been set out clearly in the Call.

Decision of the European Ombudsman on complaint 844/2014/(PL)DR concerning the handling by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) of computer problems in an open competition

Terça-Feira | 30 agosto 2016

The case concerned EPSO’s actions following a computer-server crash during a test and EPSO's handling of the complainant's requests for review and for access to documents.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found that EPSO (i) did not deal properly with the situation arising from the computer crash, (ii) failed to deal properly with the complainant's request for review and (iii) failed to handle properly the complainant's request for access to documents. Therefore, the Ombudsman made three recommendations to EPSO.

EPSO accepted the Ombudsman's first recommendation regarding how it should deal with technical problems during a computer-based test. The second recommendation was that EPSO should provide the complainant with a detailed explanation of how it had dealt with his request for a review. The Ombudsman did not find EPSO's response on this to be convincing and that EPSO’s handling of the request for a review constituted maladministration. Finally, EPSO did not accept the Ombudsman's third recommendation regarding the provision of access to documents. The Ombudsman found that EPSO’s failure to provide further documents also constituted maladministration. In addition to two findings of maladministration, the Ombudsman also made a suggestion to EPSO on how it could improve its contact service for candidates.  

Decisão no caso 437/2015/ZA - Decisão da Provedora de Justiça Europeia no âmbito da queixa 437/2015/ZA relativa a alegados conflitos de interesses num projeto de avaliação dos riscos dos OGM financiado pela Comissão Europeia

Quinta-Feira | 28 julho 2016

A Provedora de Justiça procedeu a um inquérito sobre o caso. A Provedora de Justiça concordou com a Comissão de que esta não deveria interferir na interpretação científica ou no processo de publicação dos estudos científicos que financia. A Provedora de Justiça concluiu igualmente que o simples facto de existirem ligações entre os cientistas envolvidos no projeto e a indústria não constituiu um conflito de interesse. Assinalou que a Comissão financia frequentemente projetos desenvolvidos quer pela indústria quer por grupos que mantêm ligações estreitas com a indústria. Contudo, a Provedora de Justiça sugeriu que a Comissão deveria ponderar enviar ao queixoso uma explicação mais completa e exaustiva dos motivos pelos quais considera que as ligações entre a indústria e os cientistas do projeto GRACE não configuram uma situação de conflito de interesse.

A Provedora de Justiça também considerou que a Comissão cumpriu todas as disposições legais relativas à publicação dos nomes dos peritos avaliadores envolvidos na seleção dos projetos financiados no âmbito do Sétimo Programa-Quadro. Tendo em vista reforçar a transparência e facilitar o escrutínio público, a Provedora de Justiça sugeriu que, no futuro, a Comissão deveria publicar os nomes dos peritos avaliadores de forma discriminada, de modo a estabelecer uma correspondência com cada tópico e/ou categorias de áreas do Sétimo Programa-Quadro. A Provedora de Justiça sugeriu igualmente que as declarações de interesse dos avaliadores deveriam ser publicadas.

Decision in case 2111/2014/ANA concerning the handling by the European Union Agency for Network & Information Security of a recruitment procedure

Segunda-Feira | 11 julho 2016

The case concerned the manner in which the European Union Agency for Network & Information Security (ENISA) handled a recruitment procedure.

The Ombudsman inquired into the issue and found no maladministration concerning the complainant's allegation that his application had been treated unfairly.

However, the Ombudsman identified certain shortcomings in ENISA's procedural handling of the case and has made suggestions to ENISA for improvement in the future.

Decision in case 1585/2014/JAS on the failure of the Office of the European Union Special Representative in Kosovo to keep internship candidates informed of steps in a recruitment procedure

Segunda-Feira | 06 junho 2016

The case concerned the alleged failure of the Office of the European Union Special Representative (EUSR office) in Kosovo to keep internship applicants informed of steps in a recruitment procedure. The Ombudsman inquired into the issue, setting out her view that "it is both courteous and service-minded to acknowledge receipt of applications and to inform candidates of the significant steps (such as their exclusion from a recruitment procedure) affecting their progress in a recruitment procedure." The EUSR office explained that it had very limited resources and therefore could inform only shortlisted persons of the outcome of the procedure. However, it stated that it was examining how to improve its communication with persons wishing to be interns, such as by informing all such persons of relevant steps in the procedure by putting relevant information on its website. The Ombudsman invited the EUSR office to report on the implementation of this solution.