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Development Overview

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Public Administration

Administrative reforms 3

Fifth Republic
 
(1) Background
The assassination of President Park Chunghee on October 26, 1979, brought the Fourth Republic to an end, and a transition government, led by President Choi Gyu-ha, came into being and lasted for several months. The real power in the Fifth Republic was centered in the new military elite that had arrested and imprisoned the Army Chief of Staff and other members of the old military leadership. The new military elite brutally repressed the demand for democratization, the severity of which was evidenced by the massacre of participants in the uprising at Gwangju in May 1980. In August 1980, Choi relinquished his nominal presidency, letting Chun Doohwan rise to power based on a vote by the Council of the Unification-Leading People. The Chun administration then organized a referendum around a draft constitutional amendment stipulating a single, seven-year term for the President and an indirect presidential election system. The amendment passed in a referendum held on October 22, 1980, and was promulgated as the Constitution of the Fifth Republic on October 27 that same year. The Electoral College elected Chun, running as the candidate of the Democratic Justice Party, on February 25, 1981, after which a new National Assembly was gathered (Oh, 2003).
 
(2) Purposes of Reforms
The administrative reforms attempted in the Fifth Republic reflected not a social consensus, but the political interests and expediency of the elite that had come to power via illegal and undemocratic routes and sought to secure legitimacy internally and externally through a series of reformatory measures. In addressing the gap of political legitimacy in their midst, the leaders of the new Republic picked the consolidation of democracy, the completion of a welfare society, the realization of a just society, the innovation of education, and the advancement of culture as the five major pillars of their policymaking. The Chun administration engaged in administration system reform in hopes of procuring acceptance of its authority and policy goals by bureaucrats and the people at large. Accordingly, the government organization was reformed to secure greater degrees of legitimacy, while new organizations were created to help realize social welfare. Measures were launched to fight corruption, and the size of the bureaucratic apparatus was optimized to keep the administrative cost minimal. New agencies and organizations were also launched to innovate education and foster cultural progress (Kim, 1991).

In reality, however, the regulatory reforms of the Fifth Republic mostly focused on achieving administrative and economic efficiency by deregulating the private sector. Although democratic values were promoted as the standards or criteria for deciding and implementing reforms, efficiency trumped democracy in most cases, except for a few (e.g., the introduction of the legislative preview system, and the system for registering complaints on land reform projects (Kim, 1999)). Focused overwhelmingly on the goal of economic growth through regulatory reforms and deregulation, however, the Chun administration neglected the crucial roles and functions of proper regulations, and incurred criticisms for enlarging social inequality (Choi, 1992: 810, quoted in Kim, 1999).
 
(3) Main Actors and Means
The central administration underwent far-reaching transformation when the presidential system became constitutionalized and gained an even stronger hold as the Fifth Republic began. New bodies were created, including the Social Purification Committee, the Political Affairs Advisory Board, and the Peaceful Unification Advisory Board, while the Labor Administration was expanded into the Ministry of Labor. Ministers previously without portfolios were put in charge of political affairs, and now reported to the Prime Minister instead of the President. The Ministry of Sports also newly came into being. Moreover, the Administrative Reform of October 15 led to the abolition of various governmental units, including the Office of Planning and Coordination, and the Administrative Reform Committee, both of which reported to the Prime Minister.

As questions of the legitimacy of the Chun Doohwan presidency continued to arise, the new administration launched an ambitious reform drive in 1981, prioritizing economic development, stability, and social purification as key goals. First, the new government created the External Relations Committee in order to ensure continued economic growth and development, and increase Korea’s economic cooperation with foreign actors. Second, the government launched the Social Purification Committee to fight the organized crime, corruption, and other illegal activities on the rise in that era. Third, the new administration actively fostered professional sports, reorganizing and expanding the public bodies handling major sporting events. The Chun administration ended up hosting the Asian Games of 1986 and the Olympics of 1988 as a result (Lee, 2001). The reform drive that began on December 31, 1981, however, still emphasized minimizing and reorganizing the administration (Park, 2004).

Source: Korea Institute of Public Administration. 2008. Korean Public Administration, 1948-2008, Edited by Korea Institute of Public Administration. Pajubookcity: Bobmunsa.

  ##PAGE##
Roh Taewoo Administration
 
(1) Background
The repressive and undemocratic exercise of power in the Fifth Republic escalated the occurrence of uprisings and movements for democracy. The democratization movement that began again in June 1987 drove Roh Taewoo, the then governing party’s presidential candidate, to release the June 29 Declaration, in which he promised to amend the Constitution to make it more democratic. The draft amendment stipulating a single five-year term for the President and a direct presidential election system was passed in a referendum held in October 1987, leading Roh to be elected by a popular vote in December. The era of the Sixth Republic thus officially began on February 25, 1988.
 
(2) Purposes of Reforms
The Sixth Republic emphasized the restoration of true liberty, peace, dignity, human rights, and the right of the people to pursue happiness. This spirit is evident in the June 29 Declaration and in the slogan, the “Era of Ordinary People.” Of course, governmental reorganization and reform were necessary to ensure the truth of the slogan (Lee, 2001).

Under the Roh administration’s efforts for administrative reform, the “Improving Institutions for Democratic Development” campaign was launched and with it a series of measures intended to improve the convenience of the people, revitalize the economy, rationalize institutions, and enhance administrative efficiency. Beginning in 1989, the campaign was renamed the “Improving Institutions for Fair and Balanced Development,” and encompassed projects designed to increase the convenience of the people, reduce administrative regulations, improve social welfare, enhance administrative efficiency, and prepare Korea for greater opening and globalization. With an ongoing emphasis on the need to make administration more convenient for the people, the Roh administration also outsourced many government services, and sought to usher in an age of decentralization, transferring greater authority to local administrations. The Roh administration also established the Basic Plan for the Automation of Administration, and increased investment in automatizing and digitizing administrative tasks (Oh, 2003).
 
(3) Main Actors and Means
The inclusion of members of the same elite of the Fifth Republic in the Roh administration prevented radical political and administrative changes from taking place. The Roh administration nonetheless significantly differed from its predecessor in terms of its origins and aims. With soaring demand for democracy among the people, the Roh administration was forced to redefine the roles of the government and the administration. Incapable of escaping the legacy and heritage of the repressive Fifth Republic, the Roh administration acknowledged its transitional nature and took responsibility for putting Korea’s authoritarian past behind in order to prepare the nation for the coming age of democratization (Oh, 2003).

In its first year the Roh administration re-launched the Administrative Reform Committee (ARC), which was responsible for researching the reforms and improvements required in the administrative organization and system, and reporting them to the President. The ARC, founded with a presidential decree on May 13, 1988, remained active until July 1989. The ARC had 21 members, eight research specialists, 21 investigators, and 27 administrative assistants. Many of these members were drawn from the private sector.

The ARC’s four subcommittees handled management, general administration, economics, and social and cultural issues, respectively. These subcommittees also conducted research on matters related to redefining the respective roles of the government and the private sector, and dividing the function and authority between the national government and local administrations; as well as on the organizational reform of ministries and departments and their subunits, and ways to improve related administrative procedures. The ARC also had some discretion over implementing the administrative reforms it deemed necessary. During this time, the ARC made suggestions and proposals regarding 40 or so policy issues that concerned decentralization, sustainable economic development, social welfare, and the outgrowth of authoritarianism (Oh, 2003).

The Sixth Republic had its roots in the direct presidential election that came about as a result of the fervent desire of the people for realizing democracy and abolishing authoritarianism. Accordingly, it occupied a crucial moment in the process of political democratization. Nevertheless, the administrative reforms attempted by the Roh administration, forming the first half of the Sixth Republic, were too similar to the institutional reforms of the Chun administration. Although President Roh on the surface attempted to distinguish himself from his predecessor by emphasizing his election to the presidency by a popular vote, his real intention was to strengthen his own power through the distinction. Despite his calls for reform, his government in reality remained captive to the interests of Fifth Republic leaders. However, the Roh administration did serve as a bridge between the authoritarian past and the democratic future by engaging in a wide range of reforms via the ARC, developing an institutional basis for the subsequent administrative reform modeled after the new public management theory, and achieving a paradigm shift in administrative reforms (Kim and Han, 2008).

Despite the proposals for small government from the ARC, and the ostensible orientation of the Roh administration itself to that end, the size of the bureaucracy grew noticeably throughout the five years of the administration. A total of 160,000 or so government employees were newly hired during this period, and the number of high-ranking positions multiplied at even a faster rate than lower-ranking ones (around 60 new Grade 1 positions were created). By the end of the Roh administration, the Korean central government consisted of two administrations, 16 ministries, six departments, 15 offices, and two bureaus (Oh, 2003).

Source: Korea Institute of Public Administration. 2008. Korean Public Administration, 1948-2008, Edited by Korea Institute of Public Administration. Pajubookcity: Bobmunsa.
  ##PAGE## Civilian Government and the Kim Youngsam Administration[1]
 
(1) Background
The “Civilian Government” under President Kim Youngsam effectively marked the third decade of military rule in Korea. Kim, a popular leader of the opposition party who fought for democracy for decades, finally won the presidential election of 1992. His administration was the first in the Republican history of Korea that did not suffer from a legitimacy crisis. Yet the overarching ideological backbone of the new government was still largely focused on the authoritarian past, in the sense that it sought to eliminate vestiges of military rule.
 
(2) Purposes of Reforms
The Civilian Government proposed two main objectives, namely, healing the “Korean disease” and creating a “new Korea.” In other words, it aspired to be a clean government, achieve a strong economy, and realize a healthy society.[2] The overarching aims of administrative reform included the establishment of a small, yet strong, government; realization of a democratic and efficient administration; and the enhancement of public convenience through institutional improvements. The basic reform plan sought to abolish the authoritarian past and promote democratic ideals, while prioritizing efficiency over effectiveness.
 
(3) Main Actors and Means
The main center of reform under the Kim administration was the Committee for Administrative Reform (CAR). First organized on April 20, 1993, the CAR decided approximately 2,500 reform projects and tasks over a five-year period until its official dismantlement on February 25, 1998. As a presidential council, the CAR drew all 15 of its members from the private sector and civil society.[3] The CAR was initially expected to operate for one year only, but its term was renewed for another year in 1994, and for another three years in 1995. Although its role was merely advisory at the beginning, the CAR eventually gained substantial policymaking power thanks to the President’s support and enforcement.

The Working Committee for Administrative Reform (WCAR), chaired by the director-general of the Office of Administrative Coordination, drew its 20 members from the public and private sectors. Six of these members were either heads of departments or assistants to vice ministers. The remaining 14 were civilians, mainly selected on the strength of their expertise and academic reputation. The WCAR was comprised of both career bureaucrats and civilians to bolster the effectiveness and feasibility of its proposals. It operated from a small administrative office and was staffed with 35 or so clerks from the Prime Minister’s Office and other ministries and departments divided into six teams to handle specialized tasks.

Each ministry, department, province, or municipality was also allowed to assemble a Countermeasure Task Force for Administrative Reforms (CTFAR) to implement the administrative reforms demanded locally. The CTFARs, part of the pan-governmental reform system, were also encouraged to share the problems they were having difficulty solving with the CAR.
A variety of committees were created aside from the CAR, such as the Regulatory Reform Committee (RRC), the Globalization Committee, the Committee for the Review of Corporate Regulations, the Blue House Task Force for Deregulation, and so on. The overlapping of these committees’ jurisdictions, however, limited their efficiency (Lee, 1998; Kwon, 1998). The RRC was already a part of the Economic Planning Board by the time the Kim administration came to power in 1993, and began its operations before the CAR was launched. The Kim administration was embroiled in an endless debate over whether to merge the two committees together, but reforms were launched without the desired merger due to reluctance on the RRC’s part. The two committees were finally merged early in 1997, almost four years after the original deadline in May 1993.

Reform tasks and projects were decided in a bottom-up manner, so that bureaucrats, nongovernmental organizations, corporations, and even individual citizens could propose reform measures.[4] There were three stages of debates over deciding each task or project. The first debate would take place in the Office of Administration; the second at the WCAR every Wednesday; and the third at the CAR every Friday.[5] The White Paper on Administrative Reform was also published annually.

Organizational reforms were decided in strict confidentiality before being implemented.[6] The President almost single-handedly decided all these reforms, in effect excluding the Cabinet and the legislature from the process.[7] This invited criticisms of certain reforms as being unplanned, impulsive, and indiscriminate.

The Kim administration carried out four major organizational reforms in total. The first and second reforms involved merging some ministries and departments and abolishing others for the goal of achieving small government. The third reform was relatively minor in scope and effect. The fourth reform involved creating anew the Ministry of Maritime Resources and Fishery, contradicting the earlier message of small government.

The Civilian Government began its operations amid the debate over whether to overhaul and reform the governmental organization before the new administration was inaugurated. The Kim administration, under pressure to signify its independence from the authoritarian past, pushed for some radical reforms in its early days. The first reform, however, faced rising objections from government employees and bureaucrats, which led President Kim to declare in October 1993 his intention to abandon the governmental reorganization project.

From January to November, 1994, organizational reform was carried out in a top-down manner. That is, ministries and departments would devise plans for reforms, report them to the President, and obtain the President’s approval before carrying them out (CAR, 1994). These top-down reforms, however, had only limited effects. Although 28 ministries and departments attempted organizational reforms in this manner, economic ministries like the Economic Planning Board concluded their reform campaigns without significantly reducing their human resources or sizes. The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Department of Public Information even took up more functions and roles (Seo, 2001).

Of all the reforms tried by the Civilian Government, the most comprehensive and groundbreaking occurred in the birth of the Ministry of Finance and Economy, the result of the merger between the Economic Planning Board and the Ministry of Finance in December 1994. This organizational reform was debated and decided in the most confidential manner possible before it was suddenly announced.

The Civilian Government’s reforms marked real strides toward political democratization and away from military rule, authoritarian politics, and corruption. However, it was still rooted in the past administrations, and was subjected to criticisms from multiple sides regarding the processes and outcomes of its reforms. Seo (2001), for instance, argues that the radical organizational reforms of the Kim era resulted in the integration and simplification of organizations with similar or overlapping functions but did not necessarily downsize the government itself, and that the extent of the bureaucratic institution’s power to interfere with civil society remained mostly intact. The abrupt reform drive of the Kim administration, furthermore, is criticized for creating a sense of insecurity and worsening government employee welfare, and for failing to formulate fundamental solutions for deeper administrative problems (Kwon, 1998; Lee, 1999; Kim, 2002). Despite its invitation of civilian participation, it failed to communicate the activities and necessity of the CAR to the general public effectively.[8]
 
[1] Descriptions herein of the administrative reforms of the Civilian Government are based on research by Hwang Hyeshin (2005b).
[2] Globalization was added to this list as another major goal in 1995.
[3] This marks a significant point of divergence between the Civilian Government and its predecessors, as it was the Ministry of Government Administration (MGA) that led and implemented organizational and administrative reforms in the past (Kwon, 1998).
[4] In reality, however, civilian participation was limited and sporadic, and never found a systematic and far-reaching channel (Lee Seungjong, 2003).
[5] The WCAR review sessions drew participation from related ministries and departments, as well as from stakeholders and experts. The WCAR meetings were significant in that members of the public and private sectors exchanged their opinions on an equal footing; members of interest groups were invited to participate in intensive debates that sometimes lasted until late into the evening (CAR, 1997).
[6] “Important policy decisions fell on us and took us by surprise, as natural disasters might, and their abrupt implementation became a norm of our daily lives. Decisions were reached hastily and in secret on matters that could decide the fate of our nation in the long run…. Ironically, that manner of decision-making bore much significance to the ‘shock therapy’ attempted by the past authoritarian governments that sought to overcome the crises of legitimacy…by producing tangible policy outcomes in a hasty manner.” (Choi Yangshik, 1998)
[7] “President Kim Youngsam enlisted the participation of only some members of the CAR in the debate over government organizational reform, but decided the reform with only a few Blue House aides in the last moment before announcing it in December 1994…. The Ministry of Finance and Economy thus came about as a result of the decision of only a few men.” (Kwon Haesu, 1998)
[8] Kim Panseok (2002) criticizes the Civilian Government for the limited process in which reform projects were decided and their proneness to unexpected errors, and the government’s inability to provide timely solutions, and also points to the government’s lack of drive for fundamental reforms, and its failure to provide adequate follow-up for reforms implemented. Lee Jongsu (1999) also concludes that the Kim Youngsam administration’s reforms were largely focused on relatively minor procedural matters instead of on achieving substantive changes, and thereby failed to produce tangible improvements for the public or lower the absolute level of regulation.

Source: Korea Institute of Public Administration. 2008. Korean Public Administration, 1948-2008, Edited by Korea Institute of Public Administration. Pajubookcity: Bobmunsa.