Reform Effort Tightens Civil Service Ranks

More than 2,000 civil servants will be cut from the payroll or reach retirement by the end of this month as part of administrative reforms, Sok An, minister of the Council of Ministers, told donors Thursday.

Already, almost 1,400 civil servants have been cut from the payroll or retired as of the end of last month, said Sok An in an update to donors of a five-year administration reform program.

As part of reform efforts, surveys were distributed to civil servants and are scheduled to be returned at the end of November. The census will allow the government to clearly identify who are the real civil servants, which will enhance the payroll system and strengthen human resource manage­ment, Sok An said.

The census for the central ad­ministration will be finished by mid-January and for the whole country by June, he said.

Sok An also made a pitch for donor funding. “The will and deter­mination of the government are not enough to ensure the success of the implementation of the administration reform program,” Sok An said. “Funding availability constitutes at this moment the key factor of success or failure of the administration reform program.”

The UN Development Pro­gram is in the process of putting a project plan together in which to ask donors for contributions for administrative reforms.

One Western diplomat said it was too early to tell whether his country would contribute funds to the administrative reform ef­forts, but said it would be a very expensive project. “It’s a big and com­plicated process, so it’s very important it‘s done well,” the diplo­mat said. “The speech was a bit encouraging, but the government still has a long way to go.”

Sok An also told donors that an analysis of public employee functions began in September. The current three-category system of civil service workers will be replaced with a new four-tier hierarchy based on experience and qualifications.

In the governance area, Sok An said, the administration reform program focuses on decentralization at the provincial and district level, which he said is necessary to ensure the success of the up­coming commune elections. By the end of July, the government should have a computerized payroll system and start the decentralization program.

The next phase of the administration reform program will start in August and go through March 2001. During that period, there will be a reorganization of ministries, establishment of a program for integration of surplus civil servants into civil society, and efforts to make civil servants aware of the legal system.

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