Big shake-up planned in Latvia's civil service

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Under a reform plan proposed by the Latvian State Chancellery July 26, the number of public administration employees is to be cut by 6 percent over the next three years while their salaries are to be increased to bring them closer to the pay level in the private sector.

Janis Citskovskis, the head of the State Chancellery, told the press that the current system of public administration does not work.

"Efficiency in public administration is an area that needs to be substantially improved. It no longer works [as it is]. National regulatory authorities must also change their way of thinking, seek solutions to work better, more effectively, and more efficiently. It is essential to realize that reforms are not as an end in themselves, they will not be mechanical," said Citskovskis.

The reform plan suggests ten directions for the efforts to improve the public administration. One of the directions will be the reduction of the number of employees, including through liquidation of vacant posts and abstaining from creation of any new posts. In three years, the number of employees in the direct public administration should be reduced by 6 percent from current 58,000 to 54,500 in 2020.

Citskovskis said it would not be a mechanical slashing of jobs. Instead, the plan will seek to change the way the public administration functions and provides services to the public.

The proposals also include a gradual transition to a performance-related pay policy, and raising salaries to at least 80 percent of the pay of private sector employees in similar jobs in order to increase competitiveness and productivity in the public sector.

"Consolidation of support functions is widespread not only in business but also in public administrations of other countries, as this improves quality of service and reduces costs," Citskovskis said. In addition, an audit should be carried out at the small government institutions to ensure the most efficient management model.


Civil service reform plan (Latvian)


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In order to improve the quality of public services to individuals and business entities, the State Chancellery suggests considering a switch to provision of those services in a digital format and adopting a "zero bureaucracy" approach.

There is also a commitment to what is referred to as a "data cloud service strategy" and using available EU funds to upgrade IT systems. The "official email addresses" initiative which has so far not made much progress will also be rebooted.

Citskovskis has been head of the State Chancellery since April 7 this year, and the unveiling of the plan after less than four months signals a clear intention to shake things up. He is a long time civil servant himself, having previously worked at the Interior Ministry.

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