The EPSO remote testing issue on the agenda again (or still). The European Ombudsman has just released a decision about this issue on 22 January 2024, urging EPSO to review how selection tests are carried out and to consider going back to physical test centres.
The complaints against EPSO are defined by four main issues as part of case OI/1/2023/VS (opened on 15 March 2023):
- Failure to follow the law [Article 4 ECGAB]
- Discrimination [Article 5 ECGAB]
- Lack of Proportionality [Article 6 ECGAB]
- Lack of Fairness [Article 11 ECGAB]
In her inquiry, the Ombudsman found deficiencies in numerous areas, namely how remote testing was managed and the questionable technical requirements. They also found that the information given to candidates was inadequate and that complaints and test rescheduling were not handled well.
In response to these issues, the Ombudsman made these recommendations for EPSO to improve on these issues:
Equality in remote testing:
- EPSO urged to conduct a thorough assessment of the equality impact of remote test requirements.
- If negative implications persist, EPSO should ensure candidates have the option of physical test centers.
- Monitor equality impacts of changes to test formats.
Technical requirements and access:
- EPSO should prevent technical requirements from disadvantaging candidates
- Collaboration with contractors for test application development is recommended
- Explore alternative arrangements if it's not possible to eliminate technical requirements that continue to be a disadvantage to candidates
Clear communication of requirements:
- Encourage EPSO to clarify on its website the necessity of equipment and physical area requirements
- Clear explanations enhance public trust and acceptance.
- EPSO asked to address legitimate concerns about requirements in a service-minded manner
Test instructions and complaint process:
- Ensure candidates have access to instructions during the test, including troubleshooting and complaint procedures.
- Options include allowing printed instructions or access through the test platform.
Complaint handling transparency:
- EPSO should provide comprehensive information on how to make and handle complaints.
- Consistent terminology and clear timelines are essential.
Guidelines review and staff training:
- Review complaint handling guidelines for clarity and comprehensiveness
- Ensure staff awareness and training for consistent application.
- Allow flexibility in processing complaints, especially in contacting technical support
Rescheduled test flexibility:
- EPSO should permit candidates to reschedule again if they experienced issues outside their control on a rescheduled test
The Ombudsman has wrapped up the inquiry, and now the burning question is: will EPSO adapt its testing, selection, candidate management and general procedure to these recommendations? Whatever happens, EU Training will keep you posted on all developments.
P.S. - You can go through the Ombudsman's 'Decision in own-initiative inquiry' in its entirety here.