[EDITORIALS]Too many bureaucratsIn 2006, the number of civil servants will increase by 11,220, meaning we will have more than 600,000 government officials for the first time. Since the current administration came to power, the personnel increases have been more than 11,000 each year. The government’s reasoning is that it is the result of pushing the idea of a “working government.” The concept of “big government” remains as steadfast as ever and obviously, as long as the larger number of civil servants translates into a well-run country, there is no need for concern.
The Board of Audit and Inspection revealed an official note from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The gist of the document was that there have been simply too many Korean civil servants sent there for training, and most had very little talent and unclear reasons for their visits. Considering the usual diplomatic proprieties, such a protest was unusual. The letter also pointed out that Korean trainees could not communicate effectively, lacked expertise and were incapable of producing proper documents. Some OECD workers have complained, the letter said, that these trainees had interfered with their daily work. As of last June, our government had spent 6 billion won to dispatch 22 civil servants to the OECD for training.
Separately, many senior government officials are reportedly seeking senior managerial posts at business advocacy groups because such posts carry hefty salaries and require little work.
Indeed, the vice chairmen at four of those groups ― the Federation of Korean Industries, the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Korea International Trade Association and the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business ― are former government officials. Some civil servants join those groups on short-term contracts. It is no wonder that leaders of these organizations fail to be the voice of their members, but instead cater to the government’s needs and produce reports to its taste.
In the future, “small government” will be the worldwide trend, but we are walking in the opposite direction. Rather than increasing the number of civil servants, we should raise their collective productivity. That is how we can raise the quality of policies and public services. We can no longer afford to waste our tax money on civil servants who are idling away their time. We should make them compete harder for their jobs, and remove the bad apples from the barrel. No country with this many civil servants can be healthy.