Sun, Jan 04, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Civil service chief seeks to ‘weed out’ incompetence

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

A mechanism will be implemented to weed out incompetent and unfit public servants as part of government efforts to improve administrative efficiency and realize the goal of good governance, a senior Examination Yuan official said.

Minister of Civil Service Chang Che-chen (張哲琛) made the remarks after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) promised to launch civil service reforms in his New Year's Day address on Thursday.

In his speech, Ma entreated all government employees to “show a spirit of compassion, like the Goddess of Mercy” and to always think of what can be done to help Taiwanese whose livelihood is threatened by the economic crisis. He also encouraged civil servants to work around the bureaucracy to serve urgent needs, because “help offered too late is no help at all.”

Chang said he fully agreed with the president and looked forward to seeing civil servants reach out to the public and get firsthand information about their problems or troubles.

Compared with employees in the private sector, public servants enjoy far better job security. Under existing law, a civil servant is unlikely to get fired unless he or she becomes involved in highly evident irregularities.

“Under existing regulations, it is almost impossible to fire a civil servant solely on grounds of incompetence or being unfit. Even if such a government employee is fired, he or she still has many channels for appeal or redress,” Chang said.

The Ministry of Civil Service is mulling revisions to the current civil servant evaluation system and has explored the possibility of implementing more effective mechanisms that would include disciplinary measures as well as incentives to reward outstanding public servants and administrative units or agencies, Chang said.

Acknowledging the difficulty in quantifying administrative performance, Chang said the ministry would draw from the civil service evaluation systems used in Japan and Singapore, as well as those adopted by blue-chip private corporations, in creating its own mechanism.

Under current regulations, civil servants can be fired if their annual performance is given a “ding,” the lowest of the four grades used to evaluate a government employee.

“Such an outcome is seldom seen in our bureaucratic system,” Chang said. “If we want to weed out incompetent or unfit civil servants, we must have a clear-cut and well-devised system to avoid any backlash.”

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