Too much fat with too lit­tle im­pact

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion - (For feed­back, email om­[email protected]­

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.”*

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