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MOHA’s roles in the State Administrative Reform process

1. Political - legal basis of state apparatus reforms with central focus on public administration reforms

In 1986, the National Reform was officially launched by the 6th Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam (the Party). This was a revolutionary decision, from awareness to action, in transformation of centrally planned economy into a socialist-oriented market economy. That remarked a historically significant transformation step, in which the Party and State overcame themselves, formulated basis for a lively socio-economic development period with many spectacular achievements, bringing our country to development stage from crisis.

The experiences learned from the failures and collapsal of socialist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries were adjusted by the Party and State in economic reform progress. Concurrently, political system reforms were cautiously made; the State apparatus was appropriately renovated. Accordingly, the national development agenda was identified together with socio-economic development (1991-2000) by the 7th Party Congress (1991) that formulated the undertakings of basic renovation in state apparatus.

The promulgation of the Constitution in year 1992 (Constitution 1992) initiated the renewal process, of which, preconditions for state administrative reform, particularly the public administration reforms, were identified to be the market economic institution under state control through legislation.

According to the Constitution, which was promulgated in 1992, the position and role of the Government was clearly identified that the Government replaced the Council of Minister (since 1980) and functioned as the law enforcement agency and the Executive Body of the National Assembly, the top administrative organization of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The enactment of the Law on the Organization of the Government in 1992 determined the organizational structure of the Government.

The first session the 9th National Assembly identified the Government’s Committee of Organization – Personnel, among 27 ministries and ministerial-level agencies, to be a ministerial-level agency, originating from a subordinate organization under the direct control of the Council of Minister.

According to the Decree No.181/1994/ND-CP stipulating the functions, tasks, powers and organizational apparatus of the Government’s Committee of Organization – Personnel (hereafter briefly called the Committee), the Committee performed the following functions: state management in fields of state organizational apparatus; the State’s civil servants and public employees; set up associations and non-governmental organizations (NGO); identify administrative border lines, and state records and archives. All of which were latered tranferred into 12 duties and powers in details. At that point, public administration reforms were not included in the duties performed by the Committee. Until September 1998, the Prime Minister to permit the Government’s Committee of Organizing - Personnel to establish the Public Administration Reforms Unit, which was upgraded later to the Public Administration Reform Department (2002). In the 8th meeting of the 7th Central Congress (January 1995), a Resolution was promulgated regulating of continuous development and perfecting the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and introducing major principles to build the State. In the meeting, orientations and urgent missions identified to be renovations of public administrative procedures, readjustments of organizational structure and operational regulations of public administration system; developing the staff of administrative civil servants to meet the renovation requirements, gradually perfect the civil service regume and civil servant regulation. These were the basic guiding principles, which later formulated the Public Administration Strategy.

It was emphasized in the 8th Congress (June 1996) that “Continue to renovate state apparatus, build and perfect the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”. In the 7th Congress of the 8th Central Party (August 1999), the duty was identified to be renovate organizational structure of political system. That was the urgent and long-term mission in the course of industrialization and modernization that imposed the central focus on state administrative reforms.

During 1992-2001, the Government’s Committee of Organization and Personnel focused on studies and proposed to carry out a plenty of guiding principles and crucial decisions in the state apparatus reforms, in which the functions of the State were adjusted from micro to macro level in state management. Accordingly, the state management functions of the Government, Ministries and sectors were altered from direct management into indirect management via legislation, polices, examination and controls. The state-owned enterprises got their management functions separated from public service delivery and production and doing business. The Government’s organization was restructured, downsized and remarkably reduced number of organizations of the Government. Additionally, multisectoring and multi-disciplinary ministries were shaped, ect. The Committee composed statutory documents, i.e., Law on the Organization of the Government (2001), Law on the Organization of People Council and People Committee, Ordinance on Cadres – Civil servants (1998). It participated in composing the 7th and 8th Congress’s Documents and Documents of 8th Congress of the 7th Central Party, Documents of the 3ed and 7th Congresses of the 8th Central Party. Those were the political – legal documents forming the state administrative reform strategy of our country in the first years of the 21st century.

2. Role of the Government’s Committee of Organization – Personnel (the Ministry of Home Affairs) in building and steering the implementation of state administrative reform programs in the periods of 2001-2010 and 2011- 2020

- In 1999, the Government’s Steering Committee for Administration Reforms was established and directly led by the Prime Minister, who was the Chairman of the Committee. The position of Deputy Chairman of the Committee was held by a Vice Minister. The members of the Committee comprised of Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Justice, Minister of Finance, Minister of Planning and Investment, Minister-Chairman of the Office of Government and a Deputy Chairman of the Commission for Organization of the Central Party. The Secrectariat of the Committee, as at prime-ministerial level, comprising of Vice Ministers of several ministries, sectors, in which the General Secrectary was held by MOHA Vice Minister, Mr. Thang Van Phuc (1999-2008).

Ministry of Home Affairs was assigned, by the Government, to be a state management body on administration reforms, responsible for providing consultation to the Government in administrative reforms. In the Decree No. 45/2003/ND-CP  by the Government stipulating functions, duties and authorities ò the Ministry of Home Affairs, the duty of being standing unit of the Government in administration reforms was clearly identified. The Government’s Committee for Organization – Personnel was decided to upgraded to be the Ministry of Home Affairs in the 9th tenure of the National Assembly (2002-2007), being one among 26 ministries and ministerial-level agencies of the Government at its 9th tenure.

- During 1999-2000, the Ministry of Home Affairs, together with the Government’s Steering Committee on State administrative reforms (the Government’s PAR Steering Committee), directed the Secrectariat together with several Ministries, sectors and scientific agencies to conduct studies and assess the realistic status of the Vietnam administration upon the requirements of the Party’s Resolutions on state apparatus reform with central focus on public administration reform. During that time, the Government’s PAR Steering Committee carried out crucial and large-scaled work, which had never been done before in the history of state apparatus development in our country. The leaders of the Central Ministries and Sectors (at that point of time, there were 26 Ministries, sectors) and the heads of Standing unit of the Provincial Party Steering Committee, leaders of People Councils and leaders of People Committees of 64 provinces and cities, altogether, they started reviewing and evaluating realistic status in the implementation of all ministries, sectors, provinces and cities regarding their performance of state management functions and duties, organizational structure, personel quota management of cadres, civil servants and public employees. On that base, the Secrectariat compiled and generalized results in a book published in year 2001 entitled “State administrative reform – realistic status, causes and solutions” issued by the National Publishing House. That was the scientific and practical bases for the formation of the Master Plan on Public Administration Reform (PAR MP) in the period 2001 – 2010. The Master Plan was submitted to the Government and was officially institutionalized in the Decision No.136/2001/QD-TTg dated 17 September 2001 by the Prime Minister Phan Van Khai.

This is a legal document holding strategic meaning in public administration reform of Vietnam, which was evaluated, by international communities, as an appropriate decision matching renovation process, an epoch reform that helped international partners to get an appropriate and positive view, and reflected political determination of the Party and the State in the course of transformation and international integration.

- The PAR MP in the period 2001- 2010 identified overall goal and specific objective, contents to be renovated and a system of solutions comprehensively and persuasively:

+ In the purpose of building a democratic, clean, strong, professional and modernized administration which operates effectively and efficiently following the Rule-of-law socialist principle under the leadership of the Party, and building a qualified and competent staff of cadres, civil servants to response to requirements of country development, by the year 2010, the public administration basically renovated to match with socialist oriented market economy.

+ Four major contents of PAR: (i) Institutional reform, in which the first thing to be done is the socialist oriented market economic institution, institution on organization and operation of state administrative system, continue to simplifying administrative procedures since 1995 (Resolution No.38/1995/NQ-CP); (ii) Reform of administrative organizational structure towards compact and light on the base of adjusting functions and duties of the Government, Ministries, sector, local governments and strengthening decentralization from Centre to Localities, renovating managerial đổi mới phương thức quản lý và từng bước hiện đại hóa nền hành chính; (iii) Renovate and improve quality of the staff of cadres, civil servants and building new civil service regime; (iv) Reform public finance, renovate financial and state budget system, eliminate the “asking-giving” financial allocation method, differentiate administrative agencies and public professional career institutions, implement socialization policy in organizing public organization in new public finance regime, which is autonomous and self-responsible.

These four major reforming contents aimed to direct the national public administration towards international and regional modern public administration, which shaped new administration form, from controlling into serving. This was the righteous and appropriate path of reforms and international integration.

- In the PAR MP, seven action programs were identified to create major changes to Vietnam administration:

+ Renovate the composing, issuance and improve quality of legal documents with citizens’ participation to contribute to incrase institutional quality.

+ Study to identify role, function and organizational structure of organizations in state administration system.

+ Downsizing program.

+ Building and enhancing quality of cadres and civil servants.

+ Reform remuneration.

+ Reform public management regime for administrative agencies and public professional career institutions, accordingly, lump-sum mode is applied for state administrative agencies and autonomous and self-controlled in finance are applied to public professional career institutions and public service organizations.

+ Modernize administrative from modernizing workplace to building e-Government and e-governance.

Among the above-mentioned 7 action programs, the Ministry of Home Affairs was in charge of 7 programs and had conducted a huge volume of work, gradually shaped new administration model towards professional, modern and compatible to standards of advanced administration regionally and internationally.

In reviewing implementation outcomes of the PAR MP in the period 2001-2010, the Government’s PAR Steering Committee and the Ministry of Home Affairs highly appreciated achievements and pointed out difficulties and challenges during implementation and preparation of PAR in the next phase for the period 2011-2020, which was approved by the Government in the Resolution No.30c/2011/NQ-CP. The PAR MP in the period 2011-2020 continues to deploy objectives of reforming the public administration towards effective-efficient, professional, modern administration serving citizens and serving the rapid and sustainable development of the country. Under the Government’s assignment, the Ministry of Home Affairs continues to be the standing unit in public administration reform. MOHA chairs the establishment of new civil service and civil servant regime towards a professional, modern and position-based administration, and gradually replacing the former career-based civil service, in order to formulate an elite, talented and responsible staff of cadres and civil servants in response to requirements of new governance efficiently and effectively.

This is a long-term process of reform and transformation, which requires the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Government to keep implementing in decisive and unified manner, so that in the next 20 years, in 2035, the Vietnam civil service, the public administration catch up with the development level in the region and in the world, being the bases for industrialization and modernization of the country./.

Dr. Thang Van Phuc, Former Vice Minister of MOHA

Translated by QG