Civil servants to be performance tested

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Cyprus MPs have approved legislation reforming how civil servants are evaluated and promoted to rid an unfair system biased toward seniority over ability and performance.

A majority of MPs passed the two bills.

The passing of the laws was imposed by Brussels for Cyprus to be entitled to the disbursement of €85 mln from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility.

Seniority will no longer be considered the top criterion for promotions, with greater weight on performance in oral interviews and written exams.

Under the old system, civil servants could not be graded below ‘excellent’ whatever their performance.

Particular emphasis will be placed on the experience, academic qualifications, employee performance based on annual reports and recommendations from the heads of departments.

The new rules also spell out the functions and responsibilities of assessors and sanctions where an adverse performance report is compiled.

A set of ‘safeguards’ aimed to ensure transparency in the grading of civil servants is also included.

A new category of “interdepartmental promotion” positions is created to enhance the mobility of employees between ministries and services.

These positions can be claimed by civil servants who serve anywhere in the public service, provided they possess the academic and professional qualifications and the relevant experience required.

The Public Service Commission will introduce specific evaluation procedures and timeframes for assessments.

Heads of departments will also undergo a mandatory assessment by their subordinates.

The reform should have happened nine years ago, as it was part of Cyprus’ obligations arising from its bailout agreement signed with the Troika of international lenders in 2013.

Despite the almost unanimous approval of the bills, some MPs argue the legislations fall short of a complete reform needed to transform the civil service.

AKEL MP Christos Christofides stated that the bills are not a public service reform but legislation related to evaluation and interdepartmental promotions.

He said they do not eliminate bureaucracy, increase productivity and promote e-government.

DIKO MP Christiana Erotokritou called on the government to fill the gap of inactivity.

“As other countries move at the speed of light and invest in modern methods, Cyprus is stuck in the 1950s, still stamping documents with official seals.”