Overhaul of hiring system planned

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Overhaul of hiring system planned

To enhance the integrity of senior-ranking government officials and overhaul the Blue House’s personnel appointment and management system, the presidential office announced yesterday that it will conduct mock confirmation hearings on potential candidates before they stand for National Assembly confirmation hearings.

The measure devised by the Blue House follows the aftermath of the mass voluntary resignations of Cabinet minister-appointees including former Prime Minister-designate Kim Tae-ho who were attacked for their allegations on bribery, real estate speculation, fraudulent house registration and tax evasion.

Under the plan, potential candidates are required to submit their self-written statements answering questions on draft dodging, criminal records, taxpayer records, legal accumulation of wealth, real estate speculation, and false house registration. The Blue House will increase the number of questions from the current 150 to 200 to better filter out under-qualified candidates.

Based on their self-written statements, the presidential committee on personnel affairs led by Presidential Chief of Staff Yim Tae-hee will hold intensive interviews that will mimic the National Assembly’s confirmation hearing for two to three candidates on a desired government post, the Blue House officials explained.

Only the candidate who has a high ethical standard will win President Lee Myung-bak’s nomination, according to the officials.

Questions and the format of finalized self-written statement will be uploaded to Blue House official Web site at www.cwd.go.kr to enable access for the public.

Some of the new questions will ask candidates whether they in the past received a large sum of condolence money for a family funeral and whether their children or wife benefited from Korean health insurance after they gave up Korean citizenship. Most of the new questions reflected the most-contentious issues that then Cabinet minister-designates suffered during the National Assembly confirmation hearings in August.

Welfare Minister Chin Soo-hee was accused by opposition lawmakers of taking advantage of the Korean health insurance seven times after her daughter gave up Korean citizenship in 2003. Chin acknowledged her daughter’s wrongdoing and pledged to learn from the incident.

The National Police Agency chief was under fire for taking 174 million won ($148,934) in condolence money for his mother’s funeral in 2007. Though Chin and Cho saved their seats, three nominees for Lee Myung-bak’s cabinet, Culture Minister-designate Shin Jae-min, Knowledge Economy Minister-designate Lee Jae-hoon and Prime Minister-designate Kim Tae-ho threw in the towel after rough confirmation hearings.

Blue House officials had mixed reaction to the changes.

A senior Blue House official who asked not to be named questioned whether the new screening procedure will work.

“It wasn’t just about the current personnel appointment system being lax, it was more about candidates who deliberately hid their weak points,” the official said. “The success of the new system heavily depends on how well the newly appointed candidate will cooperate with the new system.”

“It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t have faults in their ethical background,” another Blue House official said.

By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]
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