[EDITORIALS]A positive bureaucratic change

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[EDITORIALS]A positive bureaucratic change

The regulation governing the organizational structure of the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs has been revised to introduce a new system of headquarters and teams, breaking the tradional pyramid of office, bureau, department and section.
The hierarchical order of officials that has existed for nearly 60 years will be destroyed and restructured to make it equivalent to that of the private sector. It is highly likely that the new structure, after experimental operations at the Home Affairs Ministry, will be expanded to all government organizations. We hope the new structure will settle successfully, minimizing the side effects from the change and set a model for civil service reform.
Because the restructuring has started from the Home Affairs Ministry, the most authoritarian and stubborn in the government, the shock it brings to officialdom will not be small. But it was anticipated, because the Roh Moo-hyun government has aimed for “an efficient government” and “a government that provides high-quality service.” The effect of the change to a horizontal structure ― giving emphasis to customers and achievements, and responsibility and efficiency ― as private businesses do, will benefit people directly. In this sense, we consider it a desirable trial.
The organizations wil be streamlined into three-stage structures of the head of headquarters, team leaders and members from a five-stage structure of heads of offices, chiefs of bureau, departments and sections. This will enable swift decision-making and allow its leaders to perfom duties under their own responsibility. Moreover, it leaves no room for a hierarchical order to survive by making the rank of the head of headquarters or a team flexible. In a sector where one’s job is considered to be guaranteed until retirement, competition has been introduced.
But there are many problems along the way. Due to the nature of civil servants, who cling to promotion, morale could go down and the organization be stirred by the destruction of the rank and file. It is also doubtful whether the mid-level administrators would adjust well if they were demoted to team members. The leadership of a team leader who will lead 20 to 30 members will be a problem, too.
The public employees’ union is against the reform. Most of all, public servants’ way of thinking should be changed, and should be supported by a system of rewarding achievements.
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