DeSantis aims “slitting throats” remark at feds; Hong Kong civil servants face dispiriting performance reviews: management & workforce news in brief

By on 10/08/2023 | Updated on 10/08/2023
Ron DeSantis speaking
Governor Ron DeSantis speaking with attendees at the 2021 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida. Photo: Gage Skidmore

Global Government Forum’s digest of the news you need to know but might have missed.

Ron DeSantis says he will “start slitting throats on day one” in reference to US government officials

Ron DeSantis, governor for the US state of Florida and 2024 presidential candidate, said during a campaign event that he would “start slitting throats” within the federal workforce “on day one” if elected.

“On bureaucracy, we’re going to have all these deep state people, you know, we’re going to start slitting throats on day one and be ready to go,” he said, adding: “You’re going to see a huge, huge outcry because Washington wants to protect its own.”

DeSantis had previously used the same words to criticise hierarchical structures within the defence department.

“They [the next president] may have to slit some throats. And it’s a lot harder to do that if these are people that you’ve trained with in the past or that you know,” he said.

“We’re going to have somebody out there be very firm, very strong, but they are going to make sure that we have the best people in the best positions, and there’s not going to be necessarily prior relationships that would cloud that judgment.”

Everett Kelley, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said DeSantis’s comments were “dangerous, disgusting, disgraceful, and disqualifying”.

“We’ve seen too often in recent years – from the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 to the sacking of the Capitol on January 6, 2021 – that violent anti-government rhetoric from politicians has deadly consequences,” Kelley said.

“These public servants deserve respect and commendation from our nation’s leaders. No federal employee should face death threats from anyone, least of all from someone seeking to lead the US government. Governor DeSantis must retract his irresponsible statement.”

Read more: US feds wrongly fired under Trump legislation to get compensation

Hong Kong’s new performance assessment plan a blow for civil servants, unions warn

Plans to streamline sackings of underperforming officials in Hong Kong could significantly dent workforce morale, unions have warned.

The warning came in response to a government briefing earlier this month which laid out plans to reform the supervision of 174,000 workers on the public payroll. The plan seeks to reduce avenues through which civil servants can respond to criticism of their performance and could end steps in the evaluation process, such as panel reviews of workers’ performances.

Leung Chau-ting, chairman of The Federation of Civil Service Unions of Hong Kong, said: “The streamlined mechanism only serves to give a deterrent effect to underperformers, but they should be dealt with in a fair and square manner.”

“Underperformers should be given at least three chances to refute unfavourable appraisals and express themselves,” he said.

Leung added that society had politicised civil servants and that officials were “easily misunderstood for saying things that are deemed inappropriate remarks”.

Read more: Hong Kong to overhaul civil service code, says leader John Lee

UK Civil Service Jobs overhaul latest move in war for talent

The UK Cabinet Office plans to plough £17m (US$21.7m) into a new digital government jobs platform to help agencies attract talent as they face ongoing recruitment challenges.

According to a commercial notice published by the Cabinet Office’s Government People Group (GPG), the Civil Service Jobs recruitment platform – where all government jobs are currently advertised – would be replaced.

The GPG said the new platform would “align with – and deliver – key cross-government strategies, including the Declaration on Government Reform and the Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2022-25”.

It added that the ultimate aim of the platform was to enable a new generation of civil servants to “resolve some of our biggest recruitment challenges: improving time to hire, standardising much of our recruitment processes, and giving our users a more intuitive user experience”.

“This is a great opportunity for innovative companies to bid for a chance to work with us to help achieve these objectives,” it said.

In July, minister for the Cabinet Office and paymaster general, Jeremy Quin, announced plans to pay civil servants more for doing more work in a bid to boost productivity. He described the plan as “an absolute priority”, adding that it would bring the “rigour” of the private sector into Whitehall.

Quin also voiced an intent to hire more external candidates to government, quicken recruitment times, and remove Whitehall jargon from job ads.

Read more: UK Treasury issues cost-saving guidance to departments

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About Jack Aldane

Jack is a British journalist, cartoonist and podcaster. He graduated from Heythrop College London in 2009 with a BA in philosophy, before living and working in China for three years as a freelance reporter. After training in financial journalism at City University from 2013 to 2014, Jack worked at Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters before moving into editing magazines on global trade and development finance. Shortly after editing opinion writing for UnHerd, he joined the independent think tank ResPublica, where he led a media campaign to change the health and safety requirements around asbestos in UK public buildings. As host and producer of The Booking Club podcast – a conversation series featuring prominent authors and commentators at their favourite restaurants – Jack continues to engage today’s most distinguished thinkers on the biggest problems pertaining to ideology and power in the 21st century. He joined Global Government Forum as its Senior Staff Writer and Community Co-ordinator in 2021.

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