The government will prune superfluous “deputy” manager roles from the state bureaucracy’s many branches by restricting the number of people able to hold the title from the ministerial level down to kindergartens and hospitals.
In an eight-page sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday, the government sets forth 20 articles that will effectively freeze promotions to deputy positions unless a department has fewer than five – or even fewer at lower levels.
The restrictions will not apply retroactively, said government spokesman Phay Siphan, meaning the numbers would fall as people retired.
Nor will they apply to the National Police, Royal Cambodian Armed Forces or Cambodian representatives abroad, according to the sub-decree.
And, in case of necessity, ministers can ask Prime Minister Hun Sen to permit them to exceed deputy allocations in their domain.
The move will improve “effectiveness, accountability, responsibility and task management” within the state structure, according to the document.
Welcoming the news, San Chey, coordinator of Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific, said the bloated pool of deputy managers wasted money and degraded the position.
Often, he added, management positions were dolled out for bribes and kickbacks rather than awarded on merit.
“Nowadays, we have many deputies and there are suspicions officials who get these positions through bribery and, in turn, use their position to commit further corruption,” he said.
According to the document, at the ministry and national level, there should be no more than five deputy secretaries of state, deputy directors, deputy secretaries or similar positions.
As for ministry departments, they can only have three to five deputy directors, while offices that come under departments may appoint between two to four deputy chiefs.
Provincial, municipal and district authorities can have no more than two deputy directors or similar positions.
High school, primary school and kindergartens may have no more than three deputy principal positions.
Provincial and municipal hospitals get two deputy directors and district health centres get one.
Also, as part of the effort, ministerial, national and sub national bodies have been asked to draw up lists of officials in their management structure for the Ministry of Public Function within three months.