Cyprus to embark on ‘unprecedented’ civil service reforms

By on 08/07/2015
The government of Cyprus is set to undertake unprecedented reforms of its administration system, it has been reported.

The government of Cyprus is set to undertake unprecedented reforms of its administration system, it has been reported.

Legislation for the reforms, including radical changes to the way the Public Service Commission (PSC) recruits and promotes, is in its final stages and will be submitted to parliament at the end of the year at the latest, the Cyprus Mail reported on Monday.

Speaking at the swearing-in ceremony of the new PSC on Monday, president of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades said the reforms – “something not experienced until now in Cyprus” – will bring about a “completely different system of public administration to the one we have experienced so far.”

Anastasiades announced the PCS’s new members – new president Giorgos Papageorgiou and Antonis Vassiliades, Heliodors Heliodorou, Panayiotis Antoniou and Andreas Papadopoulos, and described them as “persons of recognised standing and unquestionable morals.”

The new members, he said, have already signed a declaration pledging they would not engage in any conflict of interest, which could affect the performance of their duties.

As part of the changes, the PCS will operate according to a new code of principles – something, Anastasiades said, that “has never been implemented in Cyprus before.”

The new code will see the PCS recruit according to objective and measurable criteria “rather than political or other interests.”

The new system includes tools for appraisals and transfers, a points system for candidates based on specific criteria relating to the results of written examinations, additional academic and professional qualifications, experience, performance evaluation, the recommendation of the relevant department head, and an oral examination by the PSC.

“Our goal,” Anastasiades said, “is to implement a new, more efficient public administration system, a system in which positions of responsibility will be awarded to the most worthy, that will be fairly awarded through written exams and a modern system of assessment.”

Otherwise, he added, “there can be no meritocracy.”

In the past, the Cyprus Mail reports, candidates have complained about the oral examination process claiming that applicants were given jobs entirely based on the interview irrespective of qualifications.

But Anastasiades, who has been president of Cyprus since 2013, pledged that this process will be “revamped entirely.”

He said the interview will be more structured and be conducted on the basis of a questionnaire, which will be prepared in cooperation with the relevant department, and be based on the requirements of the position on offer.

During the interviews members of the PSC will be required to record their comments in questionnaires, which can be used as reference points later in case of challenges to the awarding of a particular position.

As a failsafe, random checks will be carried out on an ongoing basis by the Ombudswoman’s office to make sure that all the correct processes and methodology have been followed.

New PSC president Papageorgiou said structural changes and reforms are needed to make the public service more flexible, more efficient and effective, “and certainly friendlier and more responsive to citizens’ needs.”

Systems for hiring, firing and promoting civil servants are a challenge frequently faced by governments around the world, according to Diana Goldsworthy – a public service management specialist who has worked with more than 20 governments around the world on reforming their public administration systems.

About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World - the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

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