Ryutaro Hashimoto, state minister in charge of administrative reform, unveiled a government blueprint Tuesday for overhauling the civil service that would make promotion subject to performance and tighten rules regarding retiring bureaucrats who go to work in the private sector.
The blueprint also indicates that the state will consider granting government employees the right to strike — an idea floated within the ruling coalition — in return for removing their special job protection privileges.
The “Framework on Reform of Government Service” was endorsed by the Cabinet task force on administrative reform at a plenary meeting held at the Diet building.
The blueprint calls for making the heads of government ministries and agencies primarily responsible for personnel policies, which have so far been centralized under the National Personnel Authority.
Under the Hashimoto plan, the ministries and agencies would be responsible for drawing up their own organizational structures and carrying out their own personnel policies, while the authority would assume a back-burner role of reviewing the personnel policies adopted at each ministry or agency.
Officials involved in drafting the blueprint said the administrative reform task force plans to draw up a basic plan on the structure of government service by June in preparation for a complete overhaul of the National Civil Service Law.
The blueprint seeks to do away with the current seniority-based pay scale, which reform proponents cite as the main cause of the rigidity of the current civil service system.
In its place, the officials favor a new system that rewards ability, as well as an employee’s record of performance and duty. They also seek to remove barriers to promotion defined by career-specific civil service exams and to clarify job boundaries and procedures by which replacements and dismissals are made.
On the controversial practice of “amakudari” — literally “descent from heaven” and referring to the privileged hiring of retiring civil servants in the private sector and government-affiliated public corporations — the plan emphasizes the need to set up clear guidelines to avoid possible conflicts of interest.
The plan suggests that employment of retiring senior government employees by the private sector should be subject to approval at the ministerial level.
The blueprint calls for the introduction of personnel guidelines making it mandatory to release information on private companies that seek the service of retiring senior government officials, making prospective employers who violate the civil service code liable to criminal penalties.
Under the blueprint, retiring civil servants would be subject to limitations on pension payments if they are hired by special nongovernmental agencies — a measure aimed at curbing the practice of multiple pensions.
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