WHEN he was handed the Public Service Commission’s annual report for 2017 on Monday, President Anastasiades bemoaned the fact that a bill setting criteria for the evaluation of the work of civil servants was gathering dust in the legislature. Assessment criteria had to be introduced into the civil service so that staff evaluations were objective and accurate, thus eliminating cronyism, said Anastasiades after being handed the report from the commission’s president Giorgos Papageorgiou.
Papageorgiou noted that under the existing assessment system 95 per cent of civil servants were graded as ‘excellent’. This lack of integrity, not to call it dishonesty, of the assessors is endemic and part of the ethos of the civil service for which the idea of meritocracy is anathema. It also creates additional work for the judiciary as many appeals were filed by employees against promotion decisions who felt they had been unfairly treated. The number of appeals was on the rise, said Papageorgiou.
If there were honest staff evaluations, based on objective criteria, the main ground for appeals would be eliminated, as it would be very hard for an employee to claim that someone with a higher evaluation for work performance was wrongly promoted. This would also make nepotistic decisions more difficult as it would be much harder to promote an employee with a lower average evaluation. Of course, it is entirely possible that party backing would ensure an under-performing employee was graded as ‘excellent’, but the possibilities for favouritism would be reduced.
Unsuccessful efforts to introduce a reliable staff evaluation system go back several decades. The Papadopoulos presidency had an evaluation system put together by PWC but it was never introduced, because Pasydy did not want it. Teaching unions, for years now, have been refusing to discuss the introduction of an evaluation system because it might expose inept teachers and limit promotion prospects for many of their members.
The problem is that the political parties are also happy with the existing system as it gives them full scope for nepotism, which is one of the key methods for attracting members. If the parties were not able to use their influence to get ‘their’ people promoted what would be the incentive for people joining a party? This also answers the question posed by Anastasiades on Monday. “Give me one reason why these bills are not being passed,” he said, taking a swipe at the political parties for the delays.
The reason is that the rotten, inefficient system that protects and promotes mediocrity and does not reward capable, hard-working employees serves political cronyism while also preserving the power of the union bosses.