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[Editorial] Larger Blue House: Long Shot at Becoming a Small Government

[Editorial] Larger Blue House: Long Shot at Becoming a Small Government

Posted February. 10, 2003 22:39,   


The more power the Blue House has, the more the cabinet gets belittled. Our history is summed up in the sentence. The Blue House, sitting above the cabinet, interfered in each and every move of the cabinet, and controlled the whole governance by dictating the investigative agencies.

President-elect Roh Moo-hyun has come up with a reorganization plan for Blue House staff members and agencies. The plan seems to be an expression of Roh`s will to revamp the current imperialist presidency. In detail, Roh separates out the policy division from the politics division. Thus, the head of the former is to assist the new president in pursuing his reform efforts. In addition, he promises to appoint chief aides and assistants. Up to now, a chief aide, without a separate appointment of aides, has taken charge of several subdivisions. These are a remarkable advance toward better operation of the Blue House organizations. If operated as intended, the dictating Blue House may successfully transform itself into a diligently working Blue House.

Despite these positive evaluations, some still voice their worries. Under the envisioned structure, the Blue House will have two division chiefs, five chief aides and 6 aides. In comparison with that of the incumbent administration, which has only one minister-level official, the Roh administration will have two minister-level officials and a lot more deputy minister-level staff members. The Blue House, which should serve as the model for a small government, will become larger to the contrary. Usually, the Blue House organizations fail to get themselves streamlined and become bigger in size and number, getting deeper into the term of an administration. Thus, we have to worry about the future. In addition, each staff member`s role has not been delineated, possibly arousing confusion between the role of the national security aide and that of the foreign affairs and defense aides, between the policy division chief and the policy chief aides, to name just a few.

Especially, enlarging Blue House organizations is a far cry from Roh`s emphasis on relegation of the central government`s power to localities. An organization tends to create unnecessary works with its size getting larger. Thus, it could pose a threat to the confident pursuance of work by the cabinet. The Roh`s camp stresses that it has eliminated the possibility that a chief aide gets to chair various subdivisions. Once a person settles in the Blue House, he or she is likely to fall pray to his or her own instinct of becoming a big shot. The incoming administration has to learn a lesson from Kim Dae Jung`s Blue House, which has entrapped itself by trying to do everything, but ending up in arousing confusion within the government, as demonstrated in the checkbook diplomacy scandal involving North Korea. Getting larger conveys higher risks not only for human beings, but also for organizations.