The principle of meritocracy in public civil service

Today in the modern world economy, personnel has become the most valuable asset of any organization. Human resources are one of the crucial aspects of the effective operation of any organization. If the process of selection and placement of personnel in the organization is well organized, the work in this organization will be effective. Therefore, creating an effective recruitment process has become the priority task of most organizations. To effectively solve the “personnel problem” in the organization, it is necessary to approach the recruitment process professionally.

In New Uzbekistan, as in all aspects of society, the process of reforms in updating the leadership and management personnel system has begun and is being carried out consistently. This process is related to creating a new leadership personnel system that would meet the requirements of independence, understanding the essence of the newly formed socio-political and economic relations. In the first stages, the significant results were achieved in training, retraining and placement of management personnel, and a system featuring the national mentality was formed.

Provision of state power and management bodies with highly qualified personnel, continuous work with them, improvement of their qualifications, and formation of highly-qualified public servants pool are among the crucial tasks facing any country.

At the meeting held under the chairmanship of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on August 4, 2022, regarding measures to improve public service reform and efficiency in management, the “road map” was presented to official state bodies and organizations. The “road map” focuses on the development of the public service in the near future and aims at solving issues that have been postponed for 30 years and satisfying people.

The head of our state has defined several tasks that cannot be delayed in all spheres, related to the reform of the public service and the development of human resources, which directly affects the mood of more than 35 million people. In particular, instructions were given to bring the reform of public administration to a new level of quality, to establish a system of regular training and evaluation of public servants’ knowledge, to introduce a transparent selection system in the selection of personnel, and most importantly, to train personnel to be knowledgeable, persistent, and intolerant of corruption.

In this regard, the adoption of the law “On State Civil Service” with direct effect, which provides comprehensive legal regulation of the process of selecting candidates who wish to enter the state civil service through an open independent competition, is one of the significant steps taken to improve the personnel policy.

The main task of 100 thousand people is to please the People

Today, about 100,000 people work in the field of state civil service. Based on the foresight and ideas of the head of our state, the “neighbourhood” and “household” work system was established in recent years, bringing civil servants closer to the people. As the saying goes, “Two hands are two hands”, and for civil service employees, there have been created suitable conditions for their efficient work. As a result, the share of employees under 40 years old in the civil service reached 61% (this indicator was 37% 5-6 years ago).

However, it was noted that the results were not commensurate with the created opportunities and conditions. The President said at the meeting that “public service has not yet become a system that truly satisfies the people.” The head of our state explained this by the fact that 25,000 complaints about the lack of knowledge and irresponsibility of the employees of the ministries and administrations, and 7,000 complaints about their lack of communication culture were received at the People’s reception desks last year.

It was shown that some managers were not able to fulfil their assigned tasks due to the lack of a comprehensive system for identifying, training, and teaching them how to do their work well. For example, in the last six months of 2022, 37 district and city mayors were replaced due to a lack of knowledge and skills. In general, failure to select, train, and motivate leaders in positions of responsibility is one of the main reasons for implementation weaknesses.

Therefore, the Law “On State Civil Service” was adopted based on in-depth discussions during the past two years that involved local and foreign experts. The Law consisting of 64 articles was signed by the President on August 8, 2022. It should be said that along with imposing requirements and obligations on state civil servants, the issues of guaranteeing their activity and strengthening their social protection have also been reflected in this Law.

As the private sector in the economy grows, the demand for skilled personnel increases. In this competitive market, civil service must also be attractive. “It takes a lot of time, labour and money to train one specialist. In addition, it should not be forgotten that a civil servant is a limited resource,” said the President. Therefore, the introduction of the incentive system based on the employee’s experience, qualifications and results is considered.

How to enter the state civil service?

This is done by appointing a candidate to a position in the civil service based on a selection process. Citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan who know the state language and meet the relevant qualification requirements and other requirements for holding positions in the state civil service, are admitted to the state civil service. Foreign specialists and experts can occupy positions in the state civil service in accordance with the procedure established by the Law. The procedure and terms of service of foreign specialists and experts are determined on the basis of the relevant contract.

In particular, the Law provides for the unity and stability of the state civil service system, legality, justice, service to the people, the accountability of state bodies and officials to society and citizens, the priority of human rights, freedoms and legitimate interests, openness and transparency, impartiality, legal and social status of civil servants, and defines several base principles of state civil service as well as protection. Therefore, the new Law is a vivid example of how the high principles “For human dignity” and “State agencies should serve our people” are reflected in the life of our people.

Experience of advanced foreign countries, international standards:

United Kingdom: The United Kingdom stands out for its open civil service recruitment system with new recruitment criteria based on candidates’ management experience and open competition for non-civil service appointments. Managers and employees working in the private sector or non-governmental, non-profit organizations also have the opportunity to enter the public service through selection.

France: Each ministry has its own selection procedure, which basically consists of 3 stages. Some functions of the civil service require candidates first to apply to an administrative school, that is, an administrative regional institute. Recruitment of candidates for the state civil service goes in 3 stages: external, internal and open. External selection is organized for certain diploma specialities; Internal selection is carried out among civil servants with a certain length of service; An open competition is a competition that allows all applicants to apply for a vacant position in the civil service.

Germany: One of the unique features of the German civil service is that the procedure for entering the civil service is clearly defined in the legislation. Information about vacancies in the civil service is provided in specially written publications. Selection for a position in the civil service is made based on professional qualifications, regardless of gender, origin, race, religion, religious and political views.

Republic of Korea: The civil service system in South Korea primarily involves the categorization of civil servants into 9 levels of positions. 5-9 level employees are required to have base competencies in the field and type of activity. State officials of category 4 and higher should have special knowledge, skills and competencies, meta-competence and management experience. At present recruitment for public administration is carried out openly. This process is arranged through examination tests and open competitions. Individuals with the required level of knowledge obtained from a university or open online and offline courses are allowed to take the exams.

Singapore: The meritocracy system in Singapore was first introduced as a principle by the British in 1959. In this case, the leadership of the country emphasized that promotion depends on the potential of a person. Civil service is protected from political interference. A competitive salary is the key to ensuring that talented employees are retained and do not seek employment in the private sector. The notable aspect of Singapore’s meritocracy is that it also applies to political leaders. There are many talented people in the Singapore government. Currently, the application of the HAIR (Helicopter view, Analysis, Imagination, Reality) competency assessment model for civil service recruitment in Singapore is significant. In this case, the civil servant is evaluated by the extent to which he approaches the issue and systematically analyzes it when he will be eventually hired as the result of a selection.

Kazakhstan: In the Republic of Kazakhstan, the public service recruitment process is carried out in the form of open competition in several stages. If there is an open vacant position in a state body and organization, this vacant position is posted on the Internet portal of the Agency for Public Service Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Those who want to enter the civil service for the first time answer questions about the state language, the legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan and their personal qualities during the test phase. Candidates can take the test at any time, and it will be valid for one year from the date of the test.

National Experience: Qualified personnel are tested in an open and transparent system

It should be noted that the establishment of an open selection system for personnel selection and recruitment is one of the effective means of fighting corruption. For this purpose, based on a new approach, an open and transparent selection system was introduced, abandoning the old methods of selecting personnel and assessing their intellectual potential and moral qualities.

We can see that one of the main tasks of the reforms is to introduce a modern management system in the field of public civil service, taking as an example developed countries, that is selection of personnel based on open independent competition. In this case, the most talented, highly competent employees are hired for vacant positions based on the principle of meritocracy.

In state bodies and organizations, recruitment of personnel to the state civil service is organized based on open independent competition. For this purpose, the Agency for the Development of Public Service under the President of Uzbekistan has developed a single open portal for vacant positions of state civil servants — This portal operates based on the “one-stop shop” principle for filling vacant positions in state bodies and organizations with suitable personnel. That is, all internet platforms related to labour and personnel work are integrated with this portal. The portal is interactive and provides several opportunities and facilities for candidates. For example, candidates who want to participate in the competition can apply for up to three vacancies in the state body at once. The number of organizations to which applications are sent is not limited. Qualification requirements for a vacant position are determined by the employer based on the principle of equality for all.

The important point of this system is that the information on the selection stages is sent online to each candidate’s personal cabinet on the portal that is, the answer based on the results of each stage is given to the candidates. Candidates for entering the civil service no longer wander around to state bodies and organizations carrying a file consisting of a stack of papers and several references. All information about the candidate is automatically reflected in his application through the Unified National Labor System. They simply go to the electronic platform and submit an application for a suitable vacant position in 3-4 steps.

Competitions are organized in three stages. They are: 1) studying the applications of the candidates according to the relevant qualification requirements; 2) test (in 4 areas – political-legal, spiritual, information technology and economic knowledge); 3) interview. The testing phase is conducted on the platform centrally in the regional branches of the Agency. The interview stage is conducted in the form of questions and answers by the Selection Commissions established in state bodies and organizations.

Through this system, more than 140,000 open competitions for existing vacant positions in state bodies and organizations were announced during 2020-2022, and more than 1.4 million candidates participated in them. To this date, more than 47,000 qualified personnel have been accepted into the state civil service. Fortunately, most of them, that is, more than 16 thousand, are young personnel. On average, 10-15 candidates applied for one vacant position, while up to 80-100 candidates applied for one position for some vacant positions announced by financial and economic organizations.

The activity of the open portal of vacant positions is promoted widely among young people, especially among graduates of higher education institutions and students studying for master’s degrees. During the exchanges with graduates, they emphasized that this will increase the confidence of young personnel in the public service in the future and serve to increase their enthusiasm for entering the civil service.

It is no exaggeration to say that public control is set at a high level in all processes. Over the past period, the Agency received more than 40 constructive proposals from the public aimed at further improving the test and interview process, preparing questions based on industry trends, and attracting independent experts to the interview process. Almost all of them focused on execution, that is, further improving the operation of the portal and minimizing the human factor at the selection stages.

Abbos Akramov,

Head of the Division for Personnel Coordination in State Bodies and Organizations

Agency for the Development of Public Service under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan