A long-standing practice was challenged Oct. 24 when Cabinet members agreed that ministries must favorably evaluate bureaucrats who make efforts to reduce the government workload.The bureaucracy has given higher marks to officials who secure more budgetary allocations from the Finance Ministry for their own ministries or sections — thereby contributing to a bloated government. Sadatoshi Ozato, head of the Management and Coordination Agency, said at the Cabinet meeting Oct.24 that it is unfair to give lower marks to civil servants who have worked to save tax money by improving efficiency through the scrapping of government sections and local branches that have completed their original missions. Officials should be encouraged to hand over central government tasks to local governments and to seek more cost-efficient ways to deal with ministry tasks by involving the private sector, Ozato added.The agreement also upholds a priority of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto’s administrative reform policy. Hashimoto himself supported the proposal, saying civil servants’ efforts to achieve streamlining should be rewarded appropriately. “It is strange to undermine officials who have put an end to unnecessary government tasks and thus saved public money,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Kanezo Muraoka quoted Hashimoto as saying.

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