Bureaucratic creepThe Blue House restructured its secretariat on Monday. The operation of the presidential office must set an example, and the keys to a good system are pragmatism and efficiency. To this end, it is time to think about the expansion of the secretariat.
Presidents often feel the need to reinforce the functions of the Blue House as time goes on. The governing environment changes, and restructuring can become necessary. Some changes are unavoidable, and they can be constructive.
This time, President Lee appears to have emphasized the importance of policy coordination and promotion. The spokesman’s office and the office of the senior secretary for communication were merged, and a new senior secretary post was created for personnel affairs. Lee also strengthened the role of his speech writer. Such realignments are necessary.
However, we are skeptical about the purposes behind other changes. The chief secretary for policy development and coordination, a minister-level post, has reappeared, and we worry about possible confusion with the economic ministers.
The chief policy secretary post used to exist in the Roh Moo-hyun Blue House, but Lee had initially scrapped it. Wasn’t the decision, at the time, based on the criticism that the chief secretary was an unnecessary post?
It also seems unnecessary to appoint such a larger number of special advisors. Four of the non-standing advisors are non-paid jobs, while the special advisor on political affairs and the economic special advisors will only receive a limited salary, the Blue House said.
And yet any special advisor to the president will be influential, and it is possible that confusion will arise with other officials in the same fields. Lee already has a senior secretary for political affairs, but now he has also named a special advisor on political affairs. Rumors have spread that Lee also plans to appoint a minister for political affairs, and it will be hard to separate who will be in charge of what.
The situation is the same for the economic senior secretaries and special advisors on economy, science and technology and IT.
It is inappropriate for the Blue House to expand its organization without clear explanations, because it will give the wrong impression to other ministries. The administration has demanded ministries and state-run corporations retrench and downsize. At such a time, the Blue House must become an example and manage its organization tightly.