[EDITORIALS]Civil service rumblingsThe senior executive service began operating Saturday. With the start of the new system, 1,305 directors general and directors in Class 1, 2 and 3 will all be in the same category, and will be put in one of five groups according to the difficulty of the job they are filling. Cabinet ministers will be given the authority to nominate whomever they want from a pool of public servants to fill those jobs.
Also, 20 percent of the seats will be filled from the private sector, while another 30 percent will be opened up to public servants from other ministries.
Until now, it was relatively easy for government workers to reach the highest level by doing an appropriate amount of work and waiting for their chance according to the year they entered public service. But they may face pay cuts or even be pressured to leave office if they cannot survive the competition or come up with concrete results. Also, the increase in personnel exchange is expected to reduce egoism among ministries and enhance cooperation. As the system goes into effect, high-ranking government workers will be classified into a large personnel pool and it will be the central government, not individual ministries, which will assume personnel management duties. As a result, there are concerns that public servants will try to take advantage of their academic and regional connections to ensure they are dispatched to popular positions. Another possibility is workers competitively trying to show their loyalty to the government and ministers to correspond with an incoming administration.
The main focus of the senior executive service system is the decision to open half of all government positions to the private sector and other ministries. Of course there are key positions included in the list, such as the Ministry of Education’s Director of University Policy and the Ministry of Finance and Economy’s Director General of Financial Policy. But there are also many unpopular posts like the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Investment Evaluation and Statistics Bureau chief and the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Office for Bio-Technopolis Development. Who does the government expect to fill those positions with? Even if a system sounds plausible, it will eventually stumble into a reform led only by idealism if appropriate content fails to support it. We have seen numerous cases that support our assertion.
The government must not argue with those who criticize the system, but supplement the areas that require further work.