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2008年5月 7日 (水)


(Apr. 29, 2008)

Revisions would boost institutions' efficiency

独法通則法改正 「お手盛り」評価はいらない(4月29日付・読売社説)

The Yomiuri Shimbun


To streamline the operations of independent administrative institutions, it is necessary to do away with the lax and self-serving system used to evaluate their performance and actively use private-sector know-how for that purpose.


The government presented to the Diet a bill to revise the law regulating independent administrative institutions. The pillars of the bill are the establishment of a new panel charged with playing the sole role in assessing all 101 independent administrative institutions, and the introduction of a public recruitment system for executive directors--the top post at such institutions--and inspectors.


Institutions' performances and the progress made in achieving their three- to five-year mid-term goals are currently assessed twice--first by the Cabinet Office or a ministry that supervises each institution, and then by a central government organization.


But the initial evaluation by the ministries or the Cabinet Office tends to be lenient as these government organs select their own assessment committee members. Even the Japan Green Resources Agency, which was abolished this spring following the exposure of bid-rigging at the initiative of government officials, had been rated "A," the second-highest grade in the five-level evaluation scale, before the scandal. Most of the independent administrative institutions are believed to have been given similar high marks.



Unified evaluation authority


Under the proposal, the new panel acts as a sort of central scrutinizer, examining and evaluating the institutions more objectively and with the added authority to recommend necessary measures to the appropriate minister. The panel also is empowered to make recommendations to the prime minister and dismiss executive directors of the institutions.


For the new panel's enhanced authority to be properly exercised, it is vital to recruit members who are both enthusiastic supporters of the reform of independent administrative institutions and extremely knowledgeable in relevant areas.


The public recruitment system for executive directors and inspectors is aimed at eliminating the practice of reserving some senior posts for amakudari--the appointing of senior bureaucrats to post-retirement jobs related to the sectors they formerly oversaw. Currently, former bureaucrats occupy executive director posts in 45 institutions.


We hope the independent administrative institutions will streamline their operations by hiring more figures from the business community and adopting private-sector notions of efficiency. When former senior bureaucrats from government offices that supervise the institutions are hired for senior posts, the selection process must be transparent.



Returning public funds


Under the current law, when such institutions sell real estate holdings, they can retain profits equivalent, the difference between the holdings' market values and their original book values and return only the gains to the national coffers. Under the revision proposed in the bill, they would be required to hand over all proceeds from the sale of property to the central government.

独法が不動産を売却する際、現在の制度では、簿価分は独法内部に留保し、利益分だけを国庫に返納している。改正案では、簿価分の国庫返納も義務づけた。(?翻訳ミス they can retain their original book values ではないのか?)

The institutes plan to sell off a total of more than \600 billion in assets. From the standpoint of rehabilitating the nation's finances, requiring the institutes to return to the government all the money raised by the sale of assets is a measure that should have been enacted earlier.


The new bill would prohibit the institutions from helping employees secure new jobs with companies having close capital and business ties with them. A common criticism is that these related companies accept former institution employees in return for favorable treatment such as the awarding of discretionary contracts.


These firms with close ties to independent administrative institutions are said to have vast internal reserves. The surplus money of 28 firms related to the Urban Renaissance Agency alone totals \37.1 billion. Efforts should be made to review the contractual relationships with such closely connected firms and the return of some of their surplus money should be sought.


Given the standoff in the Diet, prospects for the revision bill being passed into law are dim. The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan has good reason to support public recruitment to fill executive director posts and the restriction on reemployment of institutions' employees by related firms.


We hope the party will take a positive approach in the deliberations and cooperate in the early passage of the revisions into law.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 29, 2008)

20084290131  読売新聞)


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