Special edition digest. Radical staff reduction of civil service employees

17 June 2022
Special edition digest. Radical staff reduction of civil service employees
Home > Monitoring > Special edition digest. Radical staff reduction of civil service employees

A council under the President proposes to fire almost ¾ of civil servants. Let us consider what is right about this idea and what is wrong.

Radical staff reduction of civil service employees

Initiator: the National Council for the Recovery of Ukraine from the War.

Status: a preliminary discussion of the idea.

Who is affected: Ukrainian citizens, 237 thousand employees of the Cabinet, ministries, other executive bodies and their territorial offices, oblast and raion state administrations.

Background: In the years after the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine implemented a public administration reform. It included, among other things, the decentralization of power, i.e. a transfer of the authority to deal with local issues to local communities, and the introduction of competitive civil service. Also, as a result of the reform ministries became the drivers of preparing and implementing long-term state policies while smaller managerial functions were delegated to lower levels. Directorates responsible for analysis and policy planning were created within the ministries. This change was supposed to make public administration more predictable and thus facilitate economic growth, improvements in the social sector and the state in general.

However, after the last parliamentary election, the number of ministries was reduced, some ministries were consolidated, and as a result functions and composition of some of the directorates have changed. A half a year after the Shmyhal Cabinet was appointed, the number of ministries changed again, and another reshuffle of their structures started.

Later, the Parliament allowed firing civil servants at will and appointing candidates for vacant positions without proper competition. This resulted in a turnover in the civil service and even to this day ministries and their directorates do not work properly. Thus, the reform has not been implemented in full.

Summary of the proposed changes: 

  1. Reduction of the number of employees:
  • of ministries (except for the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Defense) by not more than 100 employees in each. As a result, the total number of employees will be reduced from 10 thousand to 3.2 thousand people
  • of other central executive bodies from 36.5 thousand to 12.7 thousand people
  • of territorial offices of ministries and other central executive bodies from 121 thousand to 31 thousand people
  • oblast state administrations from 35.5 thousand to 8 thousand people
  • raion state administration from 34.5 thousand to 4 thousand people

The total number of employees of executive bodies will be reduced from 237 thousand to 74 thousand people. Expenditures from the government budget on salaries will be reduced by half while salaries for the remaining employees will be doubled.

  1. Reduction of the number of ministries from 20 to 14, reduction of the number of other central executive bodies by at least ten.

What is right: 

  • the war waged by Russia against Ukraine is causing a significant deficit in the government budget of Ukraine. Ukraine will be able to save near ₴20 bln due to the proposed staff reduction
  • employees of the executive bodies will get a pay raise that will not require additional expenditures from the government budget

What is wrong: 

  • yet another change in the number of ministries will result in the consolidation or dissolution of some of them. That will hinder their work for at least half a year while the transformation is implemented
  • introduction of a constant number of ministries and other executive bodies cannot be justified since each ministry has its unique set of functions. Some of them have many functions — like the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Healthcare, or the Ministry of Social Policy. Others have a very narrow focus — like the Ministry of Veteran Affairs or the Ministry of the Temporarily Occupied Territories
  • the proposed reduction will destroy the reform of ministries since it means that directorates that are working on planning state policies in their particular fields will be dissolved even though they have not even started to properly work yet
  • radical staff reduction will politicize the work of the ministries and create a situation where there will be almost no civil servants working there. Only ministries, their deputies, patronage services, and service personnel will remain
  • significant staff reduction without deregulation of a number of state functions performed by these bodies will make state services less accessible to people, slow down decision-making, and cause an increase in corruption at all levels of decision-making
  • reduction of the number of territorial offices of the ministries and other central executive bodies will significantly reduce the ability of the state to implement state policies in the regions and lower the presence of the state at the local level. Taking into account that local communities are getting more and more power in the course of decentralization, the risk of separatism will increase.

Alternative solution: 

  • to finish reforming the ministries, establish directorates, and give them enough time to start working properly and stably
  • to give up the idea of introducing a constant number of ministries since their number in part depends on the priorities of each cabinet and challenges that the state is facing at the time. In the time of war, for example, ministries of armor and ammunition are often created to manage this important issue effectively. In the time of peace, though, such ministries are usually not required
  • significant reduction of state apparatus can be justified only after a thorough analysis of the work of particular state bodies proves that part of their functions is going to be either deregulated or digitalized.