The Moldova Governance Threshold Country Program (MCC) /USAID

The Moldova Governance Threshold Country Program (MGTCP) was a two and one half year initiative funded by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and managed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). MGTCP was implemented by the Millennium Partners (formerly Millennium IP3 Partners) and covered the period from May 16, 2007 to September 30, 2009. This was a highly complex project that was designed to improve the governance of Moldova’s national government institutions including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice and the Judiciary, and the State Tax Service.  The overarching goal of the program was to reduce corruption in these three areas since corruption was identified in the MCC country indicators as the key constraint to Moldova’s eligibility for the Millennium Challenge Account.

The project supported counterparts in the Moldovan government in achieving Threshold Country Program goals. The major action items in the three components included Judicial, Health and Tax Administration.

Judicial Component

Millennium Partners was successful in reducing corruption, increasing transparency and improving the quality of services provided by the judiciary.

Our work included:

  • Audio recording equipment installed in all courtrooms and staff trained in its use. Civil and Criminal Procedure Codes amended; SCM Regulation issued mandating audio recording of court hearings and issuance of copies of the audio recordings to case parties.  Amendments to court staff units approved by the MOJ, creating position of court administrator.
  • Amendments for Instructions on Secretarial Activity within the District Courts and Courts of Appeal approved by SCM, which served as foundation of ICMS implementation in courts.
  • Pilot court renovations completed in Ungheni, Rezina and Comrat District Courts and architectural assessment of the condition of all appellate and district court buildings completed. see http://mip3-projects.md/infocenter/news/2008/565/index.html
  • More than 10,000 person days of training provided to judges and court staff.
  • Integrated Case Management System (ICMS) installed in 41 district and appellate courts and staff trained in its use.” Concept Paper on Reform of Judiciary Funding” drafted, approved by the Government and ready to submit to Parliament.
  • Installation of more than 1,100 workstations, 53 servers, 3 projectors, 519 printers, 6 copiers, 61 scanners, and other related equipment delivered to district and appellate courts, the Supreme Court and the MOJ, LANs installed, and judges and court staff trained in computer use.
  • Websites for Supreme Court, appellate and district courts developed and installed and judicial decisions posted on them based on new regulations approved by MOJ and SCM.
  • Survey on the level of satisfaction of court-goers with the services offered by courts conducted and report analyzing the results distributed to all court presidents.
  • Study visits for judicial system leaders on court administration conducted to Estonia, Finland and the United States;
  • Book on operations of Supreme Court of Justice published and distributed.
  • Judicial Code of Conduct and Ethics developed and two editions of article-by-article commentaries published and distributed to all judges.
  • Guidelines for conduct of court staff prepared and issued by the Superior Council of Magistrates.
  • Four issues of Judicial Ethics newsletter published and distributed to all judges.
  • 363 judges trained in judicial ethics.
  • Sentencing guidelines developed and 2,000 copies printed and distributed to all judges and prosecutors in Moldova.
  • Guidelines on enforcement of judgments approved and 1,500 copies printed and distributed.
  • Assessment of LAN needs for enforcement offices completed.
  • Enforcement office staff trained in financial management.

Referring to the re-opening of the courthouse in the fall of 2008 after major structural and architectural renovations, installation of updated computer equipment and the installation of staff members who are now well-trained in the technologies being used by the court, Court Administrator Victoria Frunze said:

“The changes are radical,” says Frunze. “Now, our work is easier and more efficient and we can more readily serve the public.” Among the computer technologies that Frunze says makes her job easier is the ICMS system. She once was responsible for assigning judges to cases – a task that ICMS does automatically. “It’s also created greater transparency into how judges are assigned to cases.” The system takes one major task off her desk, so to speak, and Frunze says that together with the other administrative changes it means she and her colleagues get so much more work done in a day. “And that means if we finish work more quickly we also can take on more work too.”

Health Component

Millennium Partners’ MGTCP successfully reduced corruption, increased transparency and improved the quality of services provided by the health sector in Moldova.

The MGTCP worked with the Moldova Ministry of Health in developing:

  • 93 new national clinical protocols, in line with international standards, on diagnosis and treatment of different patient conditions;
  • Strengthened financial managements and auditing procedures;
  • Developed a procurement guide and trained administrators how to use it;
  • Create websites for all major healthcare facilities;
  • Separated primary care from hospitals at the raion level to allow independent budgeting with the National Health Insurance Company;
  • Created quality councils within healthcare facilities to encourage continuous quality improvement, see also http://mip3-projects.md/infocenter/news/2007/30/index.html
  • Conducted a nationwide patient satisfaction survey at 96 hospitals and primary care facilities which asked 20,000 patients, after they left a facility, about waiting time, courtesy of treatment, patient rights, informal payments to medical staff and overall conditions of the facility.
  • Prepared a code of ethics,
  • Strengthened regulations to protect patient rights, protecting whistleblowers,
  • Strengthened the legal framework on physician practice, drafting mandatory liability insurance for physicians, creating an office of the Health Ombudsman,
  • Created incentives and sanctions to ensure compliance with medical standards and protocols,
  • Developed procurement guidelines, strengthened infection control in healthcare facilities and improved quality assurance in medical laboratories.

“It’s an extraordinary advancement. Having these protocols not only will streamline the diagnosis and care of patients across the country but they also are a sort of protection for doctors who can solidly justify their medical decisions when they follow the protocols in their diagnoses and treatment of patients.”—Dr. Ludmilla Capcelea, Director of Family Doctor Center in family in Cimislia.

Tax Administration

Millennium Partners successfully carried out several complex tasks to support the creation of a more transparent, customer oriented, and efficient tax system through several major initiatives:

Taxpayer Customer Service Center was established to reduce opportunities for corruption  by eliminating excessive contact between taxpayers and tax administration staff, and to provide an easy, user friendly way to receive information about taxes. Millennium assisted developing operating software that includes a database of frequently asked questions and answers that operators can access while responding to taxpayers’ enquiries. We also  assisted STI tax specialists develop  a database of more than 4,000 FAQs dealing with personal income tax, VAT, excise tax and property tax.

Collection Enforcement Tracking System (CETS) is one of several areas of collaboration to strengthen its IT systems in order to combat corruption, increase transparency, and improve efficiency of tax collection.

CETS has been programmed and accepted by FiscServInform and STI. 410 computers, 2 servers, 20 bar code scanners, 143 printers and other related IT equipment delivered to STI central and regional offices.

STI managers now have the ability to audit whether the tax inspectors’ actions are legal, correct and efficient and thus to increase the transparency of the tax collection process in Moldova. The system will also increase efficiency and timeliness of the tax collection by automating functions, which are now performed manually by tax inspectors.

Legislative Strengthening Millennium Partners assisted the Moldovan State Tax Inspectorate submit Amendments to Tax Code to strengthen the ability the STI to enforce collections.