Thu, 10 Mar 2005

Govt plans mass reshuffle in bureaucracy

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Around 50 percent of first echelon government officials are facing imminent reshuffle due to their poor performance, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said.

Kalla told The Jakarta Post in a special interview on Wednesday that the preparations for the reshuffle would take two or three months to complete.

He said the reshuffle was aimed at boosting the performance of the bureaucracy.

"The reshuffle will not replace all first echelon officials. Only those who have reached mandatory retirement age and who are performing bad. The ratio between the two categories is about fifty-fifty," he explained.

He said that some of the top officials were failing to perform as expected and were facing reshuffle as they had done nothing during the first five months of the election campaign.

This lasted between February and September of last year, when political parties were preparing for the legislative and direct presidential elections. Government officials were allowed to take up party jobs during the elections provided they took a leave of absence and did not use state facilities.

Kalla said the major reshuffle, the first in over 10 months, was a must for the sake of regeneration.

With about 700 first echelon officials in 30 ministries and other state institutions, the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono plans to carry out the reshuffle over three years.

The President will lead the team that will select the first of the new echelon one officials. The team will also involve the Vice President, the State Minister for Administrative Reform and the National Intelligence Agency chief.

The candidates will have to be senior civil servants with excellent track records in their respective fields.

"The minister must be able to justify the candidates in front of the team," Kalla said.

Kalla said that the selection process would ensure fairness.

Those selected to fill the first echelon posts will be approved by the President through a presidential decree.

The Ministry of Justice and Human Rights is among the ministerial offices that have completed the reshuffle process. On Thursday it will install an expert advisor, Oka Mahendra, as the new director general of legislation, replacing Abdulgani Abdullah

Abdulgani will now head the ministry's law supervisory body.

Susilo once complained about the slow progress of reform within the bureaucracy. He said the bureaucratic machine was unable to keep up with the Cabinet.

The country's bureaucracy has been criticized not only for its poor performance, but its vulnerability to corruption as well.

The current situation owes its origin to the New Order era, when the bureaucracy served as the political vehicle of the regime. At that time, the president had the sole authority to replace first echelon officials.

Efforts to reform the bureaucracy began with the establishment of the Office of the State Minister for Administrative Reform and the enactment of the Civil Service Law (No. 43/1999).