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Development Overview
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Public Administration

Organization for the management of state affairs

Development Period for the Management of State Affairs: Civilian, People’s, and Participatory Governments
                 
(1) Changing Size of Organization
The organizational structure for managing state affairs entered a new phase and became much more sensitive to the changing demands of society after the “Civilian Government” under President Kim Youngsam came to power in 1993. In line with the tide of deregulation worldwide and in response to public demand, the Kim administration sought to achieve “a small, yet efficient government,” and abolished three of the 39 ministries and departments that made up the central government at the conclusion of the preceding administration. While the downsizing trend persisted until the early days of the succeeding “People’s Government” under President Kim Daejung, which came to power amid the Foreign Exchange Crisis, the increasing demand for a wider range of more professional services ultimately restored the 39 ministries and departments, and, additionally, more committees (Table 1-2).

The number of organizations under the direct supervision of the President and the Prime Minister remained at 18 throughout the Civilian and People’s Governments as it had under the Roh Taewoo administration, but increased significantly to 24 during the time of the Participatory Government under President Roh Moohyun. The upward trend was especially visible in the organizations under the President’s supervision, which multiplied from six to 13, and this figure does not include the new committees set up to promote the 12 high-priority issues on the policy agenda. The Participatory Government thus marks a period in contemporary Korean history when the number of government organizations under the President’s direct supervision increased most rapidly. This suggests that the presidential functions increased much more substantially, while the official role and functions of the Prime Minister remained unchanged.

The same pattern is evident in changes made to the size and scale of government staff. The total number of staff members working for the Prime Minister and the President, which stood at 1,382 at the beginning of the Sixth Republic, multiplied to 3,217 by the last year of the Participatory Government. The number of staff members in the Presidential Secretariat, in particular, increased from 366 to 531 over the same period, while the number of people working in the Administrative Coordination Office under the Prime Minister also increased from 122 to 158 (Table 1-4). Over 50 percent of these increases represent the new organizations and tasks of state affairs introduced in the Participatory Government era. The ratio of staff members working for the President and the Prime Minister during this era was maintained at a 55 to 45 level. Considering that this ratio stood at around 75 to 25 during the transition period, the power of the President appeared to be shrinking in comparison with the Prime Minister’s.
 
(2) Changing Structure of Organization
As the cause of democracy progressed and the people’s interest in, and demand for, public services grew increasingly diverse, the organizational structure came to include more committees and equivalent bodies. Although the demand for a larger government intensified during the period of the Civilian Government, the Kim Youngsam administration inhibited such expansion in a bid to stay loyal to its commitment to realizing a smaller, more efficient government. The People’s Government, on the other hand, not only maintained the Economic Science Council and the National Security Council, but even created additional bodies, including the Planning and Budget Commission, the Special Commission on Gender Equality, and the Special Commission for Small and Medium Businesses. The Participatory Government placed these bodies, as well as the People’s Economic Advisory Board and the Science and Technology Advisory Board, under the President’s direct supervision and also enhanced their functions and powers, while additionally creating the Central Personnel Committee, the Commission for the Investigation of Mysterious Deaths, the Korea Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Ombudsman of Korea, the National Human Rights Commission, and the like. The burgeoning of these committee-type bodies reflects the purpose and nature of the Participatory Government, which sought to hear the voices of diverse segments of Korean society and encouraged public debate and participation. The same pattern can be seen in changes made to the organizational structure under the Prime Minister’s charge as well, with the number of committee-type bodies under the Prime Minister’s direct supervision increasing from one during the days of the Civilian Government to four during the Participatory Government (these being, the Emergency Planning Committee, the Fair Trade Commission, the Financial Supervisory Service, and the Government Youth Commission).

(3) Changing Functions of Organization
The Civilian Government began to make noteworthy institutional efforts to divide the organizational structure for managing state affairs by function (e.g., personnel, gender equality, human rights, and corruption), and place core functions under the direct supervision of the President. While this policy may appear to have elevated the President’s power of directing state affairs relative to that of the Prime Minister, the expansion and reinforcement of the supporting functions of the Prime Minister’s organization, including the elevation of the Office of Government Coordination (OGC) to the ministry level and the introduction of the position of Vice Minister into the OGC, substantially strengthened the respective roles and functions of both the President and the Prime Minister in state affairs overall.

The Civilian and People’s Governments created and maintained the position of Senior Secretary to the President for Policy Planning as part of the Presidential Secretariat. The Participatory Government also appointed the Director of the Policy Planning Office in addition to, and independently of, the Chief of Staff in an effort to boost the government’s control of state affairs. President Roh Moohyun, in particular, operated 12 committees for the 12 high-priority issues on his policy agenda, which included realizing balanced economic growth, bridging the wealth gap, achieving government innovation and decentralization, promoting educational reforms, and reforming the judicial system. The multiplication of bodies and committees under direct supervision of the President and the Prime Minister significantly enhanced the government’s ability to direct state affairs. Yet it also blurred the distinction between the President and the Prime Minister’s roles, leading to overlapping and confusion among ministries and departments at times and making some policy issues overly dependent on the idiosyncratic abilities and skills of the key officials involved.

The gradual replacement of the authoritarian and directorial mode of state affairs management with the more dialogue-oriented mode did expand official channels for hearing public opinions on policy issues. The actual effects and benefits of those debates on policymaking, however, can only be determined through in-depth analyses and assessments. Nevertheless, the attempts to do justice to the ideals of democratic procedure by enlisting the participation of interest groups and stakeholders in public debates rather than single-handedly directing state affairs deserve some credit on their own.
 

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