Too much fat with too little impact
THAT is a major problem of our government; too much fat, yet too little impact on our people’s lives.
The main reason for this is simple; despite civil service law and several government guidelines governing the setup and conduct of the government, it is still largely governed by patronage politics, run by politicians as if it is their family business and driven by misplaced priorities.
According to official records, there are almost a million and a half government employees. National line agencies employ the most number of people with 959,966, of which Deped constitute the biggest block at 850,445.
The rest are in government-owned and controlled-corporations (GOCCS) and local government units (LGUS), almost 420,000, spread in 81 provinces, 145 cities, 1,489 municipalities, and 42,036 barangays.
Government employees are classified into career and noncareer. Career employees are those who enter the public service through their own merits and qualifications, passing the interviews and appropriate tests, and with civil service eligibility.
The non-career employees are those who enter the service without necessarily going through the standard qualification requirements. Most of them are in the lowest ring, mostly casual and contractual employees, and political appointees.
They are the rank and file, performing most of the technical, clerical and messengerial work.
Not to mention in this bloated bureaucracy are the thousands of casuals, job orders, ghost employees, political consultants and confidential staffs employed by governors, mayors and congressmen, and women.
More interesting, official data further shows that the total number of employees, 60 percent are civil service personnel, while 40 percent were hired on qualifications other than merit and fitness, as the law requires, but political proteges who failed to meet the qualification standards prescribed for the government positions but loyal to the officials who recruited them.
All these only suggest that political patronage was decisive in the appointment of non-career officials occupying executive positions and a bigger number of casuals.
Programs for career advancement and professionalization and other incentives are cornered by top officials and their favorites.
More than 60 percent of government personnel are in all sorts of administrative work, countless of them are in duplicating and redundant functions, while only 30 percent are in program services.
In effect, state resources, which come mainly from people’s pockets, spend mostly for administrative and personnel services, or in support of administrative operations, or special operations hidden in administrative operations, and whatever, thus leaving too little for real and direct services to people.
If we go to LGUS, one can easily notice the numerous employees and even officials either doing nothing or performing mechanical and routinary functions which could have been done or integrated into the work of a few personnel.
Turfism and personality-oriented are likewise common problems. I even know of a number of cases where programs of two bureau offices are unnecessarily duplicated thus incurring higher budget, just because the head of one office won’t budge on the ground of seniority. Hence, personality becomes more important than the program.
In a number of NLAS in the region and province, there’s so much spending on seminars and trainings on memorandum and concerns that can be understood and done by common sense and team discussion; often these are done in big hotels or far away resorts, and turned out to be rest and recreation activities cum seminars.
Is it any wonder then that despite the bragging of some government officials that their offices have an adequate budget, good personnel, good programs, better technology, and busy people, more and more people are getting unemployed, underemployed, self-employed, homeless, foodless and no access to basic services?
So many projects given to contractors turned out substandard and barely benefited by needy communities; most due to a poor appraisal of the real needs of the people thus making their development and investment planning likewise flawed.
This condition remains substantially unchanged up to the present. In some aspects, it has become worse.
In fact, what we have now is not lean and mean, but a fatter bureaucracy with still the same little impact on our communities.
The over-bloated budget of the bureaucracy is not at all commensurate to the impact in the quality of life of the people.
The fat bureaucracy enjoying yearly big budget, freebies and perks have instead enriched only the government officials and their cheering squads, not the poor and deprived communities.
Former Civil Service Commission chair Karina David once said: “this reality and practices are a clear abuse of authority and attributable to the worsening politicization and unprofessional behavior of the government bureaucracy in general.”*