Where is the traffic control?Government offices too often appear out of tune, stepping on one another’s toes. Their incompatibility is underscored in nascent policies the president is ambitiously campaigning for, such as green growth, mobile technology and research and development.
These projects can shape the country’s future, but bureaucratic discord can seriously undermine their success. The Environment Ministry and Ministry of Knowledge Economy have been pushing to get their hands on the helm to direct policy on greenhouse gas emissions, the centerpiece of the green-growth project. Both ministries pushed for separate sets of guidelines on emission requirements and supervision. The presidential Regulatory Reform Committee decided against redundant regulations and ordered the Environment Ministry to steer the greenhouse gas initiative. Without the committee’s traffic control, companies would have had two government agencies assess their emission sources and two supervisors to report to.
Similar disproportionate competition emerged over ever-evolving mobile technology policy. A host of ministries and government offices such as the Korea Communications Commission, Ministry of Knowledge Economy, Ministry of Public Administration and Security, Presidential Council for Future and Vision and Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism have jumped in the fray to lead development on smartphone and new mobile device technology. There is no sign of an authoritative “traffic officer” at this bottleneck. Companies are called upon to attend similar symposiums, seminars and hearings hosted by different government agencies. The chairman of the Korea Communications Commission admits it’s awkward to have different agencies inviting the same companies to speak on the same theme.
Opinions even differ among offices on electronic settlements. The Ministry of Public Administration wants to make the electronic authentication certificate system compulsory for every electronic settlement while the Prime Minister’s Office and the Communications Commission are opposed. The ministry wants to implement the system next month and companies are at a loss over which tune to dance to.
It is a basic duty for the government to coordinate and trim a policy before presenting it to the public. The country will be in disarray if the government sends different signals. Companies and individuals will be laden with redundant work and red tape, and trust in the government will wane. The president or prime minister’s office must step in to clear the air. If not, we may have to think about a new control tower - a Ministry of Green Growth or Information Technology Ministry - to take on the new role.