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Professional Skills: An unavoidable requirement in public management

Summary

After briefly showing the general scenario of the selection process of trusted officials in public management, this article highlights that civic culture is the first condition that every servant must have; However, the Civil Service Law indicates that the way in which trusted servants are appointed is done without competition and on the basis of the discretionary power of the official who has that power. This situation not only violates and affects the meritocracy contemplated in that same Law, including ethics in public management, but also allows hiring servants without requiring or evaluating the Professional Competencies designed for the different positions. In this way, the thesis is confirmed that by not requiring adequate professional skills in the process of appointing trusted officials, the principle of meritocracy, ethics in public management, political culture and decision-making are affected of relevant aspects, including Security and National Defense.

Key Words: Civic Culture, Civil Service, Meritocracy, Ethics in Public Management, Professional Skills

Introduction

In Peru, the Civil Service Law (LSC) establishes a unique and exclusive regime for people who provide services in public management so that State entities achieve higher levels of effectiveness and efficiency, providing quality services[1]. For this reason, all persons who provide service in the public administration, at all levels of the State structure, govern the provision of their professional services within the framework of this Law. However, this Law contemplates the existence of positions for civil servants. Trusted publics with minimum professional requirements for their appointment[2], as in the case of the selection of ministers of State, advisers, prefects, general directors, among others. Likewise, for democratically elected public officials for representative political positions there are no requirements for professional competencies, as is the case of the President of the Republic, congressmen, regional governors, provincial mayors and district mayors, who can apply simply because they are Peruvian and count with a certain age.

Carrying out a hermeneutical documentary analysis with a qualitative approach, and pointing out that the objective of this research is to determine the importance of considering professional competencies within the procedures for the appointment of trusted officials in public management, including the Defense Sector, in this article The thesis is postulated that the appointment of personnel in these positions, under the framework of the aforementioned Law, is opposed to the principle of meritocracy contemplated there in, affecting ethics, political culture and decision-making.

The importance of civic culture

Civic or citizen culture, like other close concepts such as republican culture or democratic culture, inserts us into the field of political subjectivity necessary for the constitution and proper functioning of political systems[3]. The difference between these three concepts lies fundamentally in their extension, since the first can be applied to any political system that requires a certain degree of citizen participation, while the second limits its application to republican systems and the third to those of a democratic nature. This is how civic culture – from the ancient Greek polis through the Roman civitas, the monarchical states, the aristocratic republics, to modern democracies – has been understood as the knowledge, positive assessment, capacity and will of citizens to enjoy the rights and comply with the obligations that citizenship entails[4]. That is to say, here duty and right are combined as one of the most conscious ways to live in society.

In this sense, the definition of citizenship established by the Constitution of each State determines the content and contours of civic culture. In general terms, citizenship involves a legal-political dimension, understood as the rights and obligations of individuals in relation to their participation in public life, a moral dimension of voluntary acceptance and the cultivation of values ​​related to collective coexistence. , as well as a historical-social dimension due to the sense of belonging to a society or nation constituted as a State[5]. Consequently, every civic culture contains a set of duties, values ​​and signs of identity that, if effectively assumed by citizens, favor social cohesion and the connection of individuals with the State. For this reason, participating in public affairs is not only a right but also an obligation, which invites every citizen to prepare to also be part of the ruling class of public management or of the State bureaucracy.

In this regard, it is pertinent to point out that civic culture is the first condition that every citizen who participates in government management must have developed. Knowing how to balance the duties and rights to offer their professional capacities at the service of the nation provides the security that the work that they fulfill will be strengthened by vocation of service, ethics, a shared vision, without particular interests and -above all- ensures governance for all these civic moral issues.

A critical look at the Civil Service Law

Law No. 30057, Civil Service Law, has as guiding principles: (1) General interest, to have human resources that provide a correct provision of public services, (2) Efficacy and efficiency, to seek the achievement of the objectives of the State, (3) Equal opportunities, because its rules are general and without any discrimination for reasons of origin, race, sex, language, etc., (4) Meritocracy, because it is based on aptitude, attitude, performance, ability and permanent evaluation, (5) Transparency, because the management of the Civil Service regime is reliable, accessible and timely, and (6) Probity and public ethics, because it promotes a transparent, ethical and objective performance of civil servants[6]. Therefore, all people who perform civil service or participate in public management, in its different modalities, must have the corresponding competencies inherent to the position they perform. This will ensure that the public services provided to citizens are of quality, achieving general well-being and closing the social and economic gaps of the population.

Likewise, this law classifies civil servants of public entities into the following groups: (1) Public Official, (2) Public Manager, (3) Civil Servant of Career, (4) Trusted Servant and (5) Servant of complementary activities[7]. In this regard, the Trusted Server is a civil servant who is part of the direct and immediate environment of public officials or public managers and whose permanence in the Civil Service is determined and subject to the trust of the person who appointed him, entering without public contest of merits on the basis of the discretionary power available to the official who appoints him. In that sense, the way in which the designation of a Trusted Servant is given opens the window of opportunity to place people who do not have the required competencies, with a number of these designations at the national level, including advisers, general managers , vice ministers, prefects and sub prefects, which is contrary to the guiding principle of meritocracy.

Meritocracy in public management

The meritocratic principle has always been considered as the positive way and the guiding criterion for the selection, permanence and retirement of personnel working for the State[8]. Therefore, its institutionalization is inherent to public management and its observance and rigorous implementation should -in terms of idealism- ensure the existence of quality civil servants, with skills, values, aptitudes and capacities that result in the provision of conducive services to the population as a whole.

After the Middle Ages, with the birth of the centralized States, the need to require trained and competent personnel to assume the new roles of the absolutist States was created, also appearing the distinction between the crown and the State, which allowed the separation between the private person and the position they hold. In this regard, it was during the Germanic Empire when the birth of the merit system or the administrative career was established[9] , which efficiently managed administrative systems to satisfy the needs of the people. For its part, the administrative career system was born in Germany at the end of the seventeenth century, inspired by three pillars: awareness of duty, professional knowledge and Integrity[10]. Subsequently, at the beginning of the 18th century, the Cameralistics and Police Sciences courses became compulsory as a requirement for entering the public service. In this context, the meritocratic concept and process is taking shape, concepts of conscience, professional or ethical capacityare included, which are coined and molded into the meritocracy.

Later, the liberal revolutions in England and France, as well as the American wars of independence, will implant the rule of law, in which the rulers and state officials submit to the rule of law, consecrating the right to life, to equality, to freedom of expression and the conscience of citizens[11]. In this sense, the concept of citizenship is being combined with meritocracy, rights, duties, obligations, freedom and the rule of law to live under rules, norms and a certain organization.

However, in Peru, the skills gaps of civil servants in the public sector are evident, becoming a national problem and impacting the quality of the provision of public services provided by the State to the population. According to the 2019 Global Competitiveness report, published in the World Economic Forum, Peru is ranked 65[12]. This report assesses the institutional quality of the State, the lack of competitiveness, human development indexes and economic growth, thus denoting the quality of servers and managers that the country has. However, despite the difficulties that the implementation of the Civil Service System has presented, its development should be deepened as it constitutes one of the main instruments to fight corruption, generate efficiency, guarantee social mobility and deepen democracy. Until this is done, the meritocracy will continue to be a utopia, by appointing officials without competition and with minimum requirements, allowing acts against ethics, compadrazgo, the payment of favors and the like.

Ethics in public management

Aristotle stated that it is the duty of rulers to train citizens in virtue and accustom them to it; therefore, trust in government is vital in any democratic society[13]. Mainly when the population expects public servants to serve the plurality of common interests and manage resources correctly. It is there that ethics becomes the essential support to guarantee trust and, therefore, governance. However, how much can public institutions be trusted? What guarantees that citizens can carry out their life projects in the country?

This trust can be built through ethics, in the day-to-day execution of public functions[14]. Ethics is an evaluative conception of life in terms of what is good, obligatory or just. It aims to show what should be the order of priorities in life as people and as members of a community. Ethics is a rational knowledge that will allow to guide action and make decisions always thinking in the long term. In practice, ethics in the public function allows to solve conflicts and create bridges between opposing positions in a society full of contrasts. Additionally, ethics allows innovation and solutions to be created when neither tradition nor authorities are an option. Thanks to its reflective nature, ethics allows the generation of agreements and responsible decisions. Likewise, ethics provides a set of tools, such as ethical codes and principles, that allow us to reflect on the values ​​of democracy, freedom, equality and tolerance.

Likewise, the purposes of the public function are the Service to the Nation and the obtaining of higher levels of efficiency of the state apparatus, in such a way that a better attention to the citizenship is achieved, prioritizing and optimizing the use of public resources, in accordance with the provisions of the Framework Law for the Modernization of State Management[15]. As can be seen, the concepts of civic culture, civil service, meritocracy and ethics in public management are immersed in the concept of service to the Nation. Therefore, the public servant must act according to the following principles: (1) Respect, by adapting their conduct towards respect for the Constitution and the Laws, (2) Probity, by acting with rectitude, honesty and honesty, (3) Efficiency, by providing quality in each of the functions in charge, (4) Suitability, technical, legal and moral, (5) Truthfulness, by contributing to the clarification of the facts, (6) Loyalty and Obedience, by acting with fidelity and solidarity towards all the members of its institution, (7) Justice and Equity, in the fulfillment of its functions, and (8) Loyalty to the Rule of Law, to the duty of loyalty to the Constitution and the Rule of Law[16].

In that sense, historically and legally, the importance of ethics in public management is appreciated, one that must allow everyone to act with coherence and probity, to the point of declining to a job for which they are not trained or are does not have the required skills. However, by not requiring professional skills from public servants, a crisis is triggered, governability is affected and corruption is incited, harming national development.

Professional Skills: An unavoidable requirement

The term “professional skills” began to be used in the early 1970s, specifically in the productive sector, seeking to prepare its employees to achieve higher levels of efficiency and effectiveness in different jobs[17]. Subsequently, this concept began to be used by the member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in order to be able to measure and improve the indicators of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)[18]. In this way, the productive sector is linked with education, improving the economic activity of the countries and preparing students for employment. Currently, the term “competence” is defined as know-how in context; that is, those basic performances that students or people must achieve in order to develop certain functions and apply them in specific contexts, in addition to doing it adequately[19].

In the National Curriculum for Education, competence is defined as the faculty that a person has to combine a set of capacities in order to achieve a specific purpose in a given situation, acting in a pertinent manner and with an ethical sense[20]. Being competent then implies understanding the situation that must be faced, evaluating the possibilities that one has to solve it. This means that a person must be in a position to identify knowledge and skills that one possesses or that are available in the environment, analyze the most pertinent solutions to the situation and the purpose, and then make decisions and put the selected combination into action. To be competent is to combine -also- certain personal characteristics with socio-emotional skills that make their interaction with others more effective[21]. In this way, the individual is required to be alert to subjective dispositions, evaluations or personal emotional states and those of others, since these dimensions will influence both the evaluation and selection of alternatives, as well as their performance at the same time to act. Therefore, the “professional competences” involve -in a holistic way- the aspects of civic culture, meritocracy, ethics and civil service, achieving that the servant transcends in a positive way in public management to provide quality services to citizens, with timeliness, efficiency and effectiveness.

Conclusions

The civic culture ensures in the officials the required balance of duties and rights to put their professional capacities at the service of the nation, ensuring that the work they carry out will be strengthened with a vocation for service, ethics, as well as a shared vision without particular interests. However, the way to appoint trusted servants, without competition and on the basis of the discretionary power of the official with that capacity, opens the window of opportunity to place people who do not have the required competencies, affecting the meritocracy and the career servers. For this reason, meritocracy under the figure of trusted servants is a utopia, by appointing officials without competition and with minimum requirements, promoting acts against ethics and allowing cronyism, the payment of favors and corruption, among others.

In this sense, ethics in public management must allow acting with coherence and probity, to the point that any person can decline to a job for which they are not qualified or do not have the skills to perform it. Failure to demand professional skills from public servants affects public management and, therefore, governability. For this reason, professional skills are an unavoidable requirement for any position in public management, including the Defense Sector, ensuring that the professional performance of any server transcends in a positive way to provide quality services to citizens, with opportunity, efficiency and effectiveness.

Consequently, there are opportunities to improve the Serving Law, due to the gaps, weaknesses and contradictions that are still found in this regulation. Likewise, the fact of not requiring adequate professional skills in the process of appointing trusted servants affects the principle of meritocracy, ethics in public management, political culture and decision-making on relevant aspects, including Security and National Defense.

Final Notes

  1. Law No. 30057, “Civil Service Law” (2013), http://www.ipd.gob.pe/images/documentos/normas/general/Ley%20N%2030057.pdf, (Cited May 14, 2021).
  2. Ibíd.
  3. Rubén R. García Clarck, “Bases for a diagnosis of civic culture in Mexico” (2001) Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Distrito Federal, Mexico, https://www.redalyc.org/pdf/3050/305026536016.pdf (Cited on May 21, 2021).
  4. Ibíd.
  5. Ibíd.
  6. Civil Service Law, (Cited on May 21, 2021).
  7. Ibíd.
  8. William Guillermo Jiménez, “The role of meritocracy in contemporary public administration” (2020), Vademecum of public administration, debates and perspectives, Higher School of Public Administration Bogotá D.C. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/347922674_Vademecum_Final_3 (Cited June 1st, 2021).
  9. Ibíd.
  10. Ibíd.
  11. Ibíd.
  12. World Economic Forum, “2019 Global Competitiveness Report”, https://datosmacro.expansion.com/estado/indice-competitividad-global/peru (Cited on July 10, 2021).
  13. Oscar Diego Bautista, “Ethics in public management” (2002) https://webs.ucm.es/centros/cont/descargas/documento17466.pdf (Cited July 11, 2021).
  14. Mirtha Escajadillo, “Importance of ethics in public service” (2020) Continental University, https://blogposgrado.ucontinental.edu.pe/importancia-de-la-etica-en-la-funcion-publica#:~:text=En%20la%20pr%C3%A1ctica%2C%20la%20%C3%A9tica,es%20en%20la%20que%20vivimos.&text=Gracias%20a%20su%20car%C3%A1cter%20reflexivo,acuerdos%20y%20tomar%20decisiones%20responsables. (Cited July 15, 2021).
  15. Law of the Code of Ethics of the Public Function (2005), Law 27815 https://www.mimp.gob.pe/files/transparencia/CET/ley27815.pdf (Cited July 18, 2021).
  16. Ibíd.
  17. Silva, W. H. y Mazuera, J. A Competencies approach or skills approach at school?” (2019).Electronic Journal of Educational Research, N 21, edition 17, http://www.scielo.org.mx/pdf/redie/v21/1607-4041-redie-21-e17.pdf (Cited May 14, 2021).
  18. Ibíd.
  19. Ibíd.
  20. National Curriculum for Basic Education (2016) Ministry of Education of Peru, http://www.minedu.gob.pe/curriculo/pdf/curriculo-nacional-2016-2.pdf (Cited May 28, 2021).
  21. Ibíd.

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The ideas contained in this analysis are the sole responsibility of the author, without necessarily reflecting the thoughts of the CEEEP or the Peruvian Army.

Image: CEEEP