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[Opinion] Government Innovation

Posted October. 14, 2006 07:01,   


“Governmental innovation” was not invented by the Roh Moo-hyun government. Past governments have showed similar activities. The only difference is, if it could be called a difference, is the fact that the current government has 202 officials working exclusively on reforms and even has part of the government’s budget set aside. Of this year’s budget of 22 billion won, 14.7 billion won was set aside for Reform Capability Development Expenses and used for numerous workshops and study group support. What are the results of using so much money? According to a survey by the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, 90 percent of the people answered, “Not aware of reform results”; 47 percent of public servants replied “There was no innovation; only innovation activities.”

During the National Assembly inspection on national administration yesterday, criticism of the government’s innovation being “no substance, all appearance” continued. The “innovation activities,” which were centered mainly on events and reports, made even officials wonder, “Will this continue with the succeeding government?” and look back on themselves. A good example is naming the district lecture tour of Lee Yong-sup, Minister of Government Administration and Home Affairs, “Governmental Innovation Publicity Tour”; all that seems to have been “innovated” is the naming skills of the government. There is little to show regarding stabilizing policies or loosening regulations, which is what the people actually want to see. No wonder the National Competitive Power rank of Korea announced by the World Economic Forum (WEF) is dropping every year: 17th in 2004, 19th in 2005, and 24th in 2006.

The process of Cheong Wa Dae and the Ministry of Finance and Economy persistently insisting that an under-qualified candidate be selected as the inspector of the Korea Exchange, a non-governmental organization, shows the true colors of the current government’s “innovation.” Can the government really say they are showing innovative personnel management based on achievement evaluation and efficiency? The people’s lament that “Is hogging everything really innovation?” is sadly accurate. The President’s Top Secretarial Office for Personnel Affairs has long since become the “Headquarters for Connections and Relations.”

Vice Finance Minister Bahk Byong-won, who is part of the “personnel agreement” being enforced by the Cheong Wa Dae regarding the selection of the inspector of the Korea Exchange, showed exactly the mental state of Cheong Wa Dae when he asked the Inspector Recommendation Committee Chairperson, a non-governmental personage, “Give me a break.” He is reported to have said, “The new candidate may not be perfect. However, they seem to be of the opinion that they won’t back down this time.” If this is governmental innovation, this is comedy gone bad.

Hong Kwon-hee, Editorial Writer, konihong@donga.com