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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Authority, Responsibility, Accountability and Integrity Lacking in Government

The Parliament leaks fiasco show how some basic qualities are clearly lacking in the admininstration.
Even though the number of civil servants has risen significantly (23.5%)since 2000, we still do not have a good system of Command and Control.

OK the PM has commanded the Works Minister to "just do it" ala Nike. That is easily arranged as all that is needed is some free money.

There is a basic failure of the principles of Authority, Responsibility and Accountability that are so necessary for any good team to work properly.

Looking at all the project blunders, it is all too convenient to simply blame the contractors but we never get to hear the whole story as perhaps contractors are also simply told to just do it and we will find other ways to compensate you for things that are not really your fault.

I am sure that is what happens in the real world when we have many incompetent people handling major projects.

One major obstacle to getting ministers to practise these principles of authority, responsibility and accountability is that most decisions are made as a Cabinet and so no one appears responsible. Over time and many blunders, we develop a Cabinet of the Incompetents.

We should move away from this outdated practice and allow ministers to absorb the blame if they commit major blunders to save the good name of the Cabinet.Leaders of political parties who are incompetent as ministers may have to wait till the next general elections to be reappointed as a minister.

After all a good party leader may not be a good minister and no one is really indispensable.
Just as an example of how a Minister has to resign to take the heat away from the top leader, Rumsfeld resigned as Defense Secretary after the Iraq war scandals to protect the President.

As for integrity, I'm not sure if such a word exists in the Malaysian psyche.

Graphics: Thanks to malaysiakini

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