Civil Service Commission chairman: Azerbaijan constantly monitors state servants' ethical behavior (INTERVIEW)
Azerbaijan, Baku, June 24 / Trend K. Zarbaliyeva /
Trend interviewed chairman of the Civil Service Commission under the Azerbaijani President Bahram Khalilov.
Q: Mr Khalilov, are you satisfied with the level of knowledge of the candidates participating in admission to public service? At a meeting held a few days ago, the head of the Presidential Administration Ramiz Mehdiyev said that the level of knowledge of candidates participating in the admission to the civil service is low.
A: I would not say that in such a short time the level of knowledge of the candidates has increased significantly. I believe that the responsibility always lies on the candidates. No one should receive a higher education just for the diploma. Anyone who dreams of public service who wish to build his/her career, who want to work in this position, must realize that it is necessary to work on himself/herself. There are those among the candidates who have a comprehensive and high level of knowledge. We try to observe the activity of such candidates at their future public service.
There are those candidates who respond to test questions, but do not fit their chosen position. This does not mean that they have no knowledge or level of knowledge is low. These candidates choose wrong position. There are candidates who participated in the contest 4-5 times, and only then were taken to public service. And this despite the fact that the contest is held by the same rules and evaluation system is the same. In this case, compliance of the candidate with the position is taken into account by such factors as the requirements of the position, the functions of state body. During the last competition the majority of candidates (every third or fourth) passed the second stage. In previous competitions, only a small part has passed the second stage.
Q: A few public servants know a foreign language. What problems does it cause?
A: We could not find a single civil servant to participate in education abroad. There are 10 civil servants, chosen from representatives of ministries, committees, the presidential administration, local executive authorities, our commission, the judiciary, are trained in Korea. Their training is held in Russian. We are working to educate our public servants in Germany in the Azerbaijani language. Knowledge of foreign languages is necessary for civil servants for their development, improvement of the professionalism, study of international practice. Especially a foreign language is necessary for civil servants in the departments of international relations and legal legislation.
Q: Does the commission receive complaints in connection with the ethical behavior of public servants?
A: We constantly monitor and collect information in public bodies in relation to the ethical behavior of public servants. We have begun the work on improving the ethical behavior of state officials by training.
Every six months the commission collects information in public bodies in relation to the ethical behavior of public servants. This information is provided to the State Commission for combating corruption. We are working on this kind of report for the last six months. All the information from this report will be provided to the State Commission.
Previously, employees were dismissed from state service for such violations. Administrative penalties were used in respect of these public servants. I believe that we must strengthen work in this area. Powers of the commission in this sphere is limited. We investigate complaints related to the ethical behavior of public officials and conduct necessary measures with the relevant authorities. In many cases, the complaints were confirmed. In such cases administrative sanctions are imposed against a state servant. Dismissal from public service is among these measures.
What are other innovations while conducting competitions and examinations for admission to public service?
A: This process is constantly being improved. We analyze our experience. We conduct an anonymous survey among the candidates. After analyzing these surveys, if it is necessary, we support the proposals of any innovations or changes. Our main goal is not to prolong the competitive process. We do not want it to be as a campaign. The aim is that if there is a vacant post in a body, the announcement must be made, documents must be received. The examination must be held after a short period of time after receiving the documents. After examination, interview must be conducted quickly. We try to shorten the contest to possible limits. The conditions created for the examination, give us the opportunity to conduct this process quickly. They promote the admission to the state service in working mode.
Q: At what level is the process of appraisal of civil servants' activity? By what criteria will they be assessed?
A: The assessment of civil servants is scheduled for the end of this year. First, it will be held in a few state bodies as a pilot project. Later, the activity of all public servants will be evaluated. The Commission continues its work in this direction together with German Society for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and the UN Development Programme. We got our international partners to take part in this work. A pilot state body will be chosen. Assessment will be made. The results will be analyzed. The assessment should be conducted on the relevant criteria; primarily in accordance with the work of each state employee. Such factors as the timely implementation of civil servants' work, their attitude to the work, staff will be taken into account. Weaknesses of public servants will be revealed as a result of the assessment.
As a result, we will study the need for training. It is necessary to get information about these requirements on the basis of assessment. It is stipulated with raising the level of civil servants' skills, their professionalism. These requirements should be directed upwards. Training should be conducted in accordance with the world practice in three directions.
First direction is general training (record keeping, ethical behavior, teamwork, rational use of time), the second direction - the specialty, the third direction - the special knowledge (computer, knowledge of foreign languages). There is an appeal to public authorities to determine the needs to raise the level of civil servants' skills. These requirements were examined and summarized in about 200 public bodies. As a result, they were submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers for public order. In the course of these generalizations, the need to improve skills, particularly in the area of personnel management, was determined.
Q: There is such opinions that people are taken to state service without examination, as well as civil servants who entered the service on the basis of examinations are harassed by the leadership of these state bodies, obstacles are created for their further career growth. What is your attitude to these statements?
A: I do not agree with the view that civil servants, recruited through our contests, are harassed in the state bodies and that artificial obstacles are created in their work. I disagree, because representatives of public authorities themselves participated in choosing these public servants. Someone may have problems in advancing. The official advance within the sixth-ninth classifications is carried out on a competitive basis. The oppressed people can take part in these competitions. So these accusations are unfounded. I do not rule out the fact that anyone is taken to the civil service without examination. This year, the commission has not received information about it.
There are anonymous appeals. Even when we promise these people to keep anonymous, they do not tell us the facts. These events occurred earlier. While revealing we carried out the necessary arrangements. But I do not exclude the existence of those facts. Our commission must control it. Currently, the commission holds competitions, examinations and training. It is impossible to carry out checks in public bodies due to it. However, if we are able to complete work over a registry of civil servants, there will be no problems in this area. Registry covers about 8,000 civil servants. At the moment, we are preparing the software for the registry. If the program is ready, it will work both as registry, and as a personnel management system.
Q: What plans are scheduled to improve material and social welfare of civil servants?
A: We have given our proposals to significantly increase the amount of salary increments for civil servants on the professional degree and length of service. This will be one of the incentives in the civil service.