[EDITORIALS]Revolving-Door Administrators

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[EDITORIALS]Revolving-Door Administrators

Public servants should be wary of neglecting their duties and just trying to stay out of trouble. When they do, administrative services and the nation's competitive power deteriorate. The Board of Audit and Inspection recently disciplined six executives at the Ministry of Construc-tion and Transportation, dismissing some, for failing to act on the warnings that resulted in the United States' downgrading of South Korea's aviation safety rating. Their failure is a typical, shocking example of improper administration.

According to the auditors, the ministry paid insufficient attention to the warnings of the embassy in Washington, which reported many times after August 1999 that the Federal Aviation Administration would clip the wings of Korean air carriers if Seoul failed to meet international aviation safety standards. The International Civil Aviation Organization, too, told the ministry that it planned to make an aviation safety inspection in May 2000, but the government failed to prepare appropriately. The auditors called the ministry's neglect of its duty beyond belief and the discipline of civil servants seriously slack.

Even more deplorable is the management of aviation bodies. The ministry entrusted civil aviation operations, formerly the province of the assistant minister of transport policy, to the assistant minister of planning and management, because that portfolio needed beefing up. From 1999 to June 2000, the head of the civil aviation bureau was replaced five times; one chief served only 24 days. The ministry did not hesitate to make personnel appointments with no consideration of the specialization required for the post.

Including Ahn Jung-nam, who now says he will resign after his blistering in National Assem-bly hearings, transportation ministers have been replaced four times this year. Career government officials rarely take deep root. Under such circumstances, hoping to avoid humiliation of our aviation safety record is asking the impossible.
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