Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Government must Reorganize in order to Increase Its Effectiveness

The Government must Reorganize in order to Increase Its Effectiveness
China Times News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
January 14, 2010

Take a close look at the Republic of China's laws. The "Executive Yuan Organic Law," which has been in force for 60 years, is perhaps a rare bird. Times have changed. The executive branch has been subjected to repeated changes in its organization. Yet amending the law has proven impossible. Recently the Legislative Yuan allowed four laws to enter their third reading. In doing so, it turned a page in the history of governmental reform. One cannot help but cheer the Ma administration's persistence. But the reorganization of the executive branch is an unprecedented and Herculean task. It entails streamlining the civil service -- another huge task. Care must be taken during the follow-up. The each step must be closely monitored to minimize the negative impact of reforms.

The "Executive Yuan Organic Law" was promulgated in 1947. After the government moved the capital to Taiwan, it was amended for the fourth time, in 1949. Fifteen ministries and three commissions were streamlined, reduced to eight ministries and two commissions. Since then this arrangement has remained largely unchanged. The last amendment was 30 years ago, in 1980. The "Administration of Justice Department" was renamed the "Ministry of Justice." During the final years of the Chiang Ching-kuo administration, the Lee Teng-hui administration, and even the eight year long Chen Shui-bian administration, the Executive Yuan Organic Law was the subject of repeated discussion. The Chen administration even established "representatives for the reinvention of government." In 2002 and 2004 it proposed two draft amendments, but failed to win the support of the legislature. Meanwhile, the 60 year old organizational structure has expanded. It now has eight ministries and over twenty commissions. It has too many agencies, making coordination and intregration of operations difficult.

The current amendment process will merge ministries and commissions. A single overhaul will result in 14 ministries, eight commissions, three independent agencies, and two bureaus. The Central Bank and National Palace Museum will be preserved. The raison d'etre for many government agencies will be evaluated. For example, the National Science Council and Atomic Energy Commission will be merged into the Ministry of Science and Technology. The Public Works Commission will be merged into the Ministry of Transportation and renamed the Ministry of Transportation and Construction. The National Youth Commission will be broken up and its functions assigned to the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Labor. Many years ago the Sports Commission was moved out of the Ministry of Education. It will now be moved back. The functions of the Coast Guard will be assigned to the newly established Ministry of Defense Oceanographic Commission, The functions of the Council of Agriculture and the Ministry of Economic Affairs Water Resources Agency will be incorporated into the upgraded Ministry of Environmental Resources. The Council for Economic Planning will be merged into the Ministry of National Development. The largely symbolic Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission will become a thing of the past, to be merged into the Mainland Affairs Commission.

The reorganization and merger involves the reallocation of both operations and personnel. Their decades long standard operating procedures will be disrupted. Therefore the run-in period for these government agencies may be much longer than expected. And we haven't even mentioned the impact on the Sports Commission, which is being restored to its former status. The Sports Commission was set up many years ago. It has always been a small agency handicapped by a small budget. It lacks the resources to take nurture professional athletes. It is unable to cultivate new talent. Past calls to upgrade the Sports Commission to the level of a Sports Ministry have led nowhere. Instead of being upgraded, it has been downgraded to its former status. Sports promotion may not depend upon the status of the agency doing the promoting. But the downgrading of the Sports Commission raises concerns over its future budgets. The government must take concrete actions to demonstrate that it values sports. Only then can it rally athletes and fans.

Besides the Sports Commission, the Aviation Safety Commission and the Consumer Protection Council have also been demoted. They have become third tier agencies within the executive branch. The Executive Yuan needs to explain itself better. But in the eyes of consumer organizations, it has not. During the third reading of the "Executive Yuan Organic Law," the Consumers' Foundation and other private groups gathered outside the Legislative Yuan to protest. Over the years, the Consumers' Foundation's efforts have raised consumer consciousness. Government agencies are following in the footsteps of the private sector, establishing the Consumer Protection Commission. Consumer Protection officials have gradually solidified their authority and credibility. They are now able to influence the public. The government must stand on the front lines, watching out for consumers. This will be a major challenge.

Integrating the National Development Council with the Economic Planning Council and the Research Council is a good idea. The CEPD is responsible for national land planning and economic and trade planning. Following up on the progress of the Research Council should make this integration more successful. The CEPD had an inter-ministerial coordination role for major projects. When necessary, the Vice President of the Executive Yuan often served as part-time chairman of the Council. But the time for this kind of CEPD is long past. Many people probably have no ideal what the Council for Economic Planning does. So what if it is renamed and restructured? What will that do? The Oceanographic Commission is even more so. The Marine Ministry is a Chen administration program consistent with DPP policy, but utterly irrelevant in terms of KMT policy. The Coast Guard has its role of course. But otherwise, what purpose does this agency serve?

The purpose of governmental reform is to enhance administrative efficiency. Ten years ago, the provincial government was frozen, by invoking this very reason. Ten years later, the after-effects of freezing or abolishing the provincial government are still being felt. The central government is still finding it difficult to reach the grassroots. The government must be reformed. But no matter how much one streamlines and restructures, the government must provide efficient and attentive service. If one cannot achieve this, any government downsizing project will be considered a failure. The Ma administration insists on reform. It must address these problems. Only then will the fruits of reform not wither on the vine.

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2010.01.14
社論-政府必須再造 後續配套尤重效能

細數中華民國各項法令,大概很少像《行政院組織法》這樣的大案,歷六十年施行,時空背景全部轉變,組織本身多次調整擴編,卻始終修改不成、動彈不得。這一 次,立法院在會期結束前,讓政府再造四法完成三讀,寫下政府組織變革的新頁,不能不為馬政府的堅持喝采。不過,由於相關組織調整空前巨大,又牽涉公務員精 簡移撥的大工程,後續配套尤須審慎,每一個環節都必須盯緊進度,俾使改革的負面效應降到最低。

《行政院組織法》在民國卅六年頒布,政府遷台後於卅八年第四次修正,將大陸時期的十五部三會,精簡成八部二會,從此這個架構基本不變,最近一次的條文修正 已是卅年前、民國六十九年的事了,唯一的修改是將「司法行政部」更名為現行之「法務部」。蔣經國總統執政末期、李登輝執政時期、乃至扁政府八年,行政院組 織法反覆被提出討論,扁政府甚至特別成立「政府再造委員」,並在民國九十一年、九十三年兩次提出修正草案,卻始終無法得到國會的支持。然而,原有的組織架 構歷六十年,已經擴大到八部廿多個委員會,不但組織數量過多,業務協調、整合更加困難。

這次修法,部會經歸併調整後,一次大修為十四部八會、三個獨立機關、二處,還有維持現制的央行與故宮。許多部會重新檢討業務功能,比方說:國科會與原能會 合併成為科技部,公共工程委員會併入交通部並更名為交通暨建設部,青輔會業務打散分別納入教育部和勞動部,多年前從教育部移出的體委會恢復舊制,回到教育 部,海巡署也將業務分別納入國防部與新成立的海洋委員會,還有調整包括農委會與經濟部水利署在內的業務,併入升級後的環境資源部、研考會與經建會則合併為 國家發展部,至於僅餘象徵意義的蒙藏委員會也終於走入歷史,納入陸委會。

這些整併不僅只是業務與人員的調撥,因為數十年習慣的機關運轉模式,都將因此受到衝擊,機關間的磨合期可能比預期還要長,更不要說類似體委會恢復舊制對體 育圈的打擊有多大。體委會成立這麼多年來,一直處於小單位微預算的困境,既無法擁有龐大的資源照顧職業選手,也無法有計畫的培育新秀,過去一直有呼聲希望 能將體委會提升為體育部,這次不但升格未成,甚至再被打回原形,固然推廣運動不靠機關層級有多高,但是降級改敘的體育署還能爭取到多少預算,實在令人憂 心,政府必須展現實際的行動,拿出具體作法,證明對運動的重視,才能凝聚體育圈的心。

體委會之外,這次還有飛安會與消保會,同樣降級改敘,成為院本部下設三級單位,行政院的說法是可以更有效能,看在消費者運動團體眼裡,卻完全不是這麼回 事。《行政院組織法》三讀通過的同時,消基會等民間團體就在立法院外抗議,這麼多年來,在消基會的努力下,台灣消費者意識抬頭,政府部門腳步在民間之後成 立消保會,消保官也逐步建立起權威和公信力,如何說服社會大眾,政府還是會站在第一線為消費者把關,勢必成為重大挑戰。

再比方說,國家發展委員會整合經建會與研考會,想法不錯,經建會本來就要負責國土與經貿願景之規畫,加上研考會的管考追蹤,理應讓這個工作更落實,過去經 建會還有跨部會協調財經重大方案之功,重要的時候還經常由行政院副院長兼任主委,問題是,這樣的經建會似乎早成過去,很多人可能懷疑,現在的經建會到底做 些什麼都不清楚了,即使更名改制,又能做什麼?海洋委員會的情況更是如此,海洋部是扁政府提出的方案,符合民進黨的政綱政策,然而,這個政策概念一直不在 國民黨政府腦袋裡,除了海巡署原有業務外,這個新設機關能做什麼?

政府組織改造的目的是要提升行政效能,就像十年前凍廢省政府也用了相同的理由,十年來凍廢省的後遺症還在持續中,中央政府事權管理依舊很難快速有效地下達 基層,政府必須改造,但是,不論如何精簡再造,對民眾而言,最重要的還是這個政府能提供有效率、且貼心的服務,如果做不到,任何政府瘦身工程都是失敗的, 堅持改革的馬政府必須非常嚴肅面對、並處理後續問題,才不會讓改革的果實未成熟就凋零。 

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