ARE CIVIL SERVANTS IN THREAT OF MASS LAYOFFS IN 2023?
If there were a ranking of countries in the world by the number of reforms, Ukraine would probably take first place there every year. After all, the preparation of draft laws is one of the favorite occupations of the army of officials. And they are constantly trying to reduce this army.
In anticipation of something significant
The last loud announcement was made in the summer of last year. The government reform project, which was talked about a lot, but nobody officially saw it (except for the participants of the investment forum in Lugano, Switzerland on July 4-5), was prepared by the National Council for the Recovery of Ukraine from the Consequences of the War.
According to information that reached some mass media, it was planned to transform twenty ministries and departments into fourteen through unification and liquidation, cut the salary fund by 30%, and cut the number of officials in half (by 100,000).
The updated approaches provided for the introduction of a system of grades in the payment of labor, when monetary maintenance would not be influenced by the rank of the civil service or work experience, but by the quality of the employee’s work (KPI), knowledge and skills, influence on the final result, responsibility.
Even a significant increase in the number of unemployed people was not seen as a threat. At that time, due to the war, two million more citizens left Ukraine than returned. Therefore, the dismissed employees, according to the plan of the reformers, should replace those who are absent near the machines and conveyors of plants and factories.
It is possible that the functional audit of the ministries, other central bodies of executive power, and their territorial bodies was connected with the implementation of this project, which was launched by the order of the Cabinet of Ministers dated September 16, 2022. No. 824.
The central bodies of executive power were obliged to organize this audit in accordance with the approved methodology, and based on its results, submit reports to the National Agency for Public Service with proposals for optimizing the number of employees. For its part, the NADS had until December 23, 2022 to prepare and submit to the Cabinet of Ministers proposals for improving the efficiency of public administration and public service.
It was expected that by the end of the year, the government will approve its concept as part of the civil service reform project, after which the Verkhovna Rada should vote on the appointment of new ministers and amendments to the state budget.
Plans for the year
Instead, other topics made it to the top of legislative changes related to civil service.
At the end of December, a meeting of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on the Organization of State Power, Local Self-Government, Regional Development and Urban Planning was held. The People’s Deputies agreed on the content of the Plan of legislative work for 2023, in particular in the part of the projects developed by the NADS.
Yes, the project No. 6496 “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Civil Service” Regarding Improvement of the Procedure for Entering, Passing, and Terminating Civil Service”, which has been waiting for the first reading for more than a year, wants to introduce mechanisms for the personnel reserve, ensuring the permanence and stability of the civil service, to provide tools for management decisions (for example, promotion of employees by one level based on the results of an excellent evaluation).
Things are a little better in the project No. 6504 “About service in local self-government bodies”. It appeared in January of last year, but in November it was still adopted as a basis. Its importance is explained by the fact that issues of service in local government are still regulated by acts adopted to implement the Law “On Civil Service”, which expired in 2016.
In the context of European integration, a relatively fresh project is being actively discussed No. 8222 “On amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Civil Service” regarding the introduction of uniform approaches to the remuneration of civil servants based on the classification of positions.” According to the official position, its adoption should strengthen the personnel potential of the civil service and provide decent employment opportunities in positions with a competitive salary level, taking into account knowledge and skills. People’s deputies, representatives of the Office of the President, government and executive authorities, experts and representatives of international partner organizations, in particular the EU representation in Ukraine, SIGMA and EU4PAR, soon even will gather to the thematic round table to explain the connection between the payment of civil servants and the European integration of Ukraine.
Also here you can mention the draft laws in the parliament:
- No. 6505 “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on Defining the Circle of Local Self-Government Officials” (determines the circle of local self-government officials who may be held criminally liable for committing a criminal offense under Article 368 of the Criminal Code);
- No. 7353 “On the payment of a one-time cash benefit for damage to life and health caused by injury or death caused by military aggression against Ukraine during public service, performing duties at critical infrastructure facilities and performing professional journalistic activities”;
- No. 7269 “On Amendments to the Law “On the Legal Regime of Martial Law” regarding the functioning of local self-government during the period of martial law.”
But as of today, nothing has been heard about NADS proposals to improve the efficiency of public administration and civil service to fulfill the government’s September mandate, the concept of reform from the Cabinet of Ministers or draft laws on ministerial M&A. So, the idea of reducing the state apparatus has lost its relevance? Is it realistic to implement it at all? Was it in practice for officials to support the idea of their own reduction?
In order to analyze the real state of affairs, we sent to the Cabinet of Ministers request on the quantitative composition of public servants by year. True, it is traditional there reassigned assignment to the relevant department – the National Agency for Civil Service. But the NADS could not fully satisfy our curiosity. They provided information only from 2016, because before that the “population” of officials was studied by the State Statistics Service. So is this service too submitted own observations.
In the end, we collected and aggregated the overall figures, which are based on the results of official observations.
As can be seen from the histogram, from 2002 to 2009, there was a gradual increase in the registered (actual) number of civil servants in Ukraine from 217,000 to 283,000. After that, there was a slight decline, but in 2013 there was a sharp increase to 335,000 employees. And already in the following 2014, a decline was observed. It can be explained by the fact that the data were already provided without taking into account the temporarily occupied territories of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
If official statistics are to be believed, a fairly successful reform aimed at reducing the state apparatus was carried out in 2015. Because in the following year, 2016, it collapsed by 25.4%. At the same time, staff turnover (dismissals, hiring) also decreased four to five times!
About forms and reports
However, in reality the reform was only on paper.
After all, until 2016, accounting was carried out by the State Statistics Service according to the form of state statistical observation No. 9-DS “Report on the quantitative and qualitative composition of civil servants and officials of local self-government…”. And the reports covered all institutions and organizations whose employees were covered by the Laws “On Civil Service” and “On Service in Local Self-Government Bodies”. At the same time, the total number did not include military personnel, employees of the diplomatic service, certain categories of employees of legal institutions whose labor relations are regulated by other legislative acts.
When the NADS received the relevant powers, it began to work according to the KSDS reporting form “Report on the Quantitative Composition of Civil Servants”. This report took into account state bodies, institutions and organizations, the positions of managers and specialists of which are classified as civil servants, namely:
- apparatuses of state bodies and their territorial bodies;
- apparatuses and structural subdivisions of local state administrations.
Obviously, there was a methodological shift between 2015 and 2016. As a result of the narrowing of the object of observation, the indicators obtained at the output have changed significantly. Has there been a real reduction of those who receive salaries from the budget? Hardly.
The fact that today we have the fourth edition of the KSDS reporting form is also indicative, as it is constantly re-approved in the NADS in a new edition (see orders dated 07.24.2015 No. 161, dated 10.21.2016 No. 223, dated 05.20.2020 No. 80- 20, dated 10.03.2021 No. 45-21). The mentioned form No. 9-DS was also not permanent (see State Statistics Service orders No. 383 dated 10.15.2007, No. 337 dated 09.01.2009, No. 307 dated 07.28.2010, No. 376 dated 09.05.2012, No. 224 dated 08.05.2014 ).
A perspective without a foundation
Constant changes in the approaches to the collection of statistical data on the total number of civil servants actually made it impossible to form objective analytical conclusions regarding the staffing of the civil service and its effectiveness.
Under such conditions, it is difficult to study the consequences of permanent reforms, reductions, and optimization of the state apparatus and to draw conclusions about the expediency of the next civil service reform, the implementation of which is already planned. Therefore, its key idea and methods and methods of implementation remain undefined.
I would like to be wrong, but it seems that in the end we will get another distribution of political influence without taking into account the real need. And statistics will not be used here as a basis for determining the direction of the reform, but only as a beautiful wrapper in the form of infographics, which creates the appearance of a professional approach.