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How top bureaucrats are made

Update: March, 15/2014 - 10:32
Viet Nam's staff-transfer policy aims to provide greater opportunities for promotion, Professor Nguyen Huu Khien from the Institute for State Organisational Science, told the Viet Nam Economic Times

Staff transfer has been practised in Viet Nam for many years. However, it has now become a hot issue following the issuing of Document No. 7314 by the Office of the Party Central Committee on the transfer of Government officials to new positions, which often happens following each five-yearly Party Congress. What are your thoughts on the Party's decision?

The Central Committee states clearly that staff transfers are a way of training future senior Party and Government officials at provincial and central levels. The policy is aimed at improving the upward mobility of qualified party members so that they can contribute to national socio-economic development and work at building a strong party and a strong political system..

In my opinion, the decision of the PCC comes at the right time following the Ministry of Home Affairs announcement early this year that it plans to reduce public employees by 100,000 and the Ministry of Transport's decision to hold a competitive selection for the position of Director General of the Directorate for Roads.

I firmly believe that good personnel policy will provide high quality party and Government senior officials.

But some people suspect that the staff-transfer policy is just a formality to promote people to higher positions. What do you think?

The key purpose of the policy is to transfer staff so that they can learn the skills to become competent leaders. If we need an expert, we just advertise the position for applicants. But if we want to look for a leader at the ministerial level or a sector, that person must have a good vision and management capacity.

In other words, staff transfer is aimed at enabling a person to accumulate experience and learn what qualities a top leader of a unit must have before being promoted. This is an indispensable activity in personnel work.

However, staff transfers can become just a formality for those transferred to a new office for one or two years. If after that period, the officials return to their old office, but in higher positions, that's not good.

For example, should the 19 vice ministers who are candidates for future ministers be sent to provinces to accumulate experiences before being promoted? In normal practice, vice ministers, in addition to their current expertise, must acquire some soft skills, including work with the secretariat and organisational and financial knowledge so that they can perform their duties.

If vice ministers are sought for the Ministry of Finance or the Ministry of Planning and Investment, they could be sent to the provinces as Provincial Chairman in charge of economic affairs. In such positions, they can learn about the flow in financial relationships between the central government and the local governments. There is no doubt that such practical training will be good for them when they are promoted to ministers.

However, if a vice minister of finance is sent to take up the position as a provincial Party deputy secretary or a vice-chairperson of a provincial People's Committee, but their main job is in charge of cultural and social affairs, the transfer is worthless.

How can we prevent staff transfers from becoming just a matter of formality?

To make the policy a success, it is important to select the right person for the right job. And what's more important is that person must have the leadership capacity. I don't agree with the idea that before the promotion of a department director to the position of a vice minister, that candidate must be sent to a province to take up a position as deputy secretary of the Party Committee or a vice-chairman of a provincial People's Committee to accumulate experiences.

Before the transfer, it is important that the Party Central Committee should assign specific missions for each candidate. And their assessment report should not just simply be a rosy report about their

achievements. The focus should be on what they have done to improve localities or how they have helped them solve outstanding problems. — VNS


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