index.1.jpg (3032 bytes) Note 12 – November 2005                                                    

Government’s Self-Reform
by Mariana Argint

The Government’s Q4 2005 action plan stipulated to examine Strategy of Reformation of Central Public Administration by the end of the year. In the midst of the summer, extreme need to prepare such a strategy was denoted by the decision of the Government (15.07.2005), while it was the beginning of November when Prime Minister V. Tarlev (who is the head of the committee on Government self-reformation at the same time) called upon ministers, social partners and civil society to take active part in discussions on the draft strategy that was hurriedly prepared by foreign experts and the Government Chancellery. He believes that “it is a very important event, as after the declaration of Moldova’s independence, no serious reform was undertaken in the country in this regard. And all previous attempts were no more than cosmetic”.

This acknowledgement is true. Taking an unbiased look at causes of slow and inconsequent socio-economic transformation of Moldova, as well as at various attempts to return to command control methods, one could mostly relate them to the unreformed state of the state machinery. This machinery, despite multiple partial changes and adaptation of its personnel to market conditions, still bears a strong imprint of the previous political system. 

And since 1990 public administration has been permanently redecorated (including tens of technical aid projects of UNDP, TASIC, GTZ, USAID, etc.): the number of ministries and departments was first reduced and then increased; some state services were first transferred to the Parliament and then returned to the Government (statistics, ecology, radio and TV, etc.). The latest action (April 2005) was that most departments and agencies were “hidden under the roof” of ministries, as if that reduced their number. 

At that, all Governments have been declaring during the fifteen transition years their aim to reduce state personnel and expenditures spent to maintain it. And the President even proposed in spring of 2005 to reduce state personnel by 70% (!) and place all government ministries and services within one (!) building. Were attempts to stop overgrowth of the Government successful? One could judge upon that based on the data of the National Bureau of Statistics (see Table). But these are only quantitative indicators. 







2005 VIII

Public administration:

Average personnel on payroll, thou persons







Average monthly wage, MDL







As for the quality of the Governments work, it has to show through ensured transition to reforms of the new type according to initiatives of the President V. Voronin, increased growth rate and modernization of the economys structure, as well as through restored relations with international financial organizations. In the meantime, IMF, for instance, now agrees, after a long pause, to discuss the new programme of collaboration with Moldova only if implementation of structural reforms (stipulated, by the way, by both the Strategy of Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction (EG PRSP) and the EU-Moldova Action Plan) is activated. 

What the draft strategy of public administration reform proposes? Its text (more than 30 pages) includes:

§         Conceptual framework of the reform (estimation of the situation, necessity of the reform, its principles, positive experience of public administration in the EU countries, correlation of this reform with other reforms and plans);

§         Goals and main components of the public administration reform (legal basis, decision-making process, personnel management, management of public finances);

§         Participation and communications process;

§         Results expected from the reform;

§         Monitoring of implementation of the public administration reform and risks associated with it.  

The general impression is that the draft strategy of the public administration reform was elaborated in the “European way”, according to principles of the EU administrative law. Although this draft – according to many ideas (and even the text!) – repeats similar chapters of the Strategy of Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction (May 2004) and the Programme of Government’s Activity for 2005-2009 (April 2005) that quite professionally expounded intentions of the Government concerned with the reformation of public administration. 

Is it just another declaration of intentions or a working document, which is extremely necessary to make a reality of, but tremendously difficult? Difficult, as modernization of the institutes of power should avoid generating new discomfort and risks for the population, business and external partners. It is also quite expected that those pursuing group interests could sabotage the reform. After all, it is bureaucratism that – according to unforgettable C. Marx – is a form of administration, under which a stratum of professional officials alienates administrative functions from the majority of population and gradually replaces public interests with its group interests. 

The authors of the draft strategy conceived that the public administration reform has to be implemented within the nearest three years. And the country will get not a cumbersome and expensive system of state administration, but quite a European, transparent and effective one. 

It is alarming though that – according to another document (“Mid-term Forecast of Expenditures for 2006-2008”) already approved through the Government decision of October 19, 2005 – MDL3149.4 are requested for “introduction of a new remuneration system based on personal progress of officials, common tariff scale and differentiation of wages”, while it is planned to transfer “functions of analysis and regulation of the manpower policy in the public sector as a whole to a single central body or to create a body under the Prim Minister, which would guide and coordinate process of the public administration reform” (see Monitorul Oficial al Republicii Moldova, № 148-150, November 5, 2005, p. 90). 

The circle has closed again: a strategy to reduce bureaucratism was elaborated, but additional expenditures for state machinery are needed and another central body has to be created! Sure it has – according to the law of C. Parkinson “The fact is that the number of the officials and the quantity of the work are not related to each other at all. The rise in the total of those employed is governed by Parkinson's Law and would be much the same whether the volume of the work were to increase, diminish, or even disappear.”