Sunday, April 20, 2008

Administrative Reform and Amakudari Bill

"A draft bill will revamp the selection process for senior posts at independent administrative agencies, which have been criticized as hotbeds of corruption and wasteful spending and are targeted for drastic reforms, The Asahi Shimbun learned Friday.

"The bill, if passed, will also restrict the practice known as amakudari, in which elite central government bureaucrats land cushy post-retirement jobs in agencies once under their jurisdiction.

"The bill is also intended to reform and streamline the 101 agencies by increasing the Cabinet's involvement to ensure more efficient and open operations and taking away the power of the bureaucrats.

"Directors, auditors and other senior positions at the agencies have traditionally been former bureaucrats, whose appointments have been approved by a Cabinet minister.

"The bill to reform an existing law will allow members of the public to apply for the posts and be selected through an open recruitment system. Their appointments will require approval from the Cabinet.

"Moreover, the bill will ban agencies from sending their retired officials to private companies with business ties.

"Critics, however, doubt the amakudari practice will be completely eradicated under the new system.

"It has been the Cabinet's custom to skim over the proposals of individual ministries for appointments of high-ranking officials, including vice ministers, and to merely rubber-stamp its approval.

"The Cabinet will approve the draft bill possibly in the coming week. The government hopes to pass the legislation through the Diet so that it can take effect in 2010.

"Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda views the independent agencies reform bill and the bill for bureaucratic reform, which has already been submitted to the Diet, as the two pillars of his administrative reform initiative.

"The operations of the 101 semi-government agencies, known as dokuho, are currently overseen by assessment panels under the ministries with jurisdiction. Panel members are appointed by each ministry.

"The current assessment system has been criticized as tantamount to a "peer review by colleagues" that has allowed nontransparent and often sloppy operations.

"For example, the now-defunct Japan Green Resources Agency was given an "A" grade, the second-highest on a five-point system, from the agricultural ministry despite its involvement in collusive bidding.

"The bill will create a single 18-member committee under the internal affairs ministry to monitor the operations of all 101 agencies.

"The assessment committee will have the authority to recommend to the ministers in charge to order improvements to agencies that are failing to achieve their goals.

"If the agencies refuse to comply with the committee's recommendation, the committee can ask the prime minister to take control and supervise the organizations."

By Akira Uchida (4/19/2008), Asahi Shimbun, Link to article (last visited 4/20/2008)

No comments: