Government Reform and Human Resources-The Taiwan Experience Delivered at the IPMA-HR Thirtieth International Symposium in Budapest, Hungary

By Lin, Chia-Cheng | Public Personnel Management, Fall 2005 | Go to article overview

Government Reform and Human Resources-The Taiwan Experience Delivered at the IPMA-HR Thirtieth International Symposium in Budapest, Hungary


Lin, Chia-Cheng, Public Personnel Management


The Constitution of the Republic of China, which is in force in Taiwan, sets out a five-branch system. In addition to the usual executive, legislative and judicial branches, there are two other independent authorities, which address examination and administrative oversight respectively. The president is the leader of the country and is elected directly by the people. The five branches under him, which are called the Yuans, are the Executive Yuan, the Legislative Yuan, the Judicial Yuan, the Examination Yuan and the Control Yuan.

The Executive Yuan is the top administrative agency, with 36 ministries and committees under it. Its top official, the premier, is appointed by the president. The Legislative Yuan is the country's top legislative body. It represents the people in exercising their rights to legislate, and holds the right of approval for presidential appointments to the Judicial, Examination and Control Yuans.

The Judicial Yuan is the nation's supreme legal body, and is charged with interpreting civil, criminal and administrative law, as well as handling disciplinary matters involving government officials. The Examination Yuan is the nation's highest examination authority and is responsible for the administration of all civil service examinations as well as those for the professions and technical occupations. It governs the civil service and, through the three ministries below it, is responsible for all government personnel matters. These include assessment, employment and dismissal, salaries and benefits, incentives, performance evaluations, protections, promotion, retirement, pensions, posthumous benefits, etc. The Control Yuan, meanwhile, is the nation's supervisory watchdog, and handles matters of impeachment, censure and audit. It has one affiliated ministry.

A Historical Perspective on Government Reform in Taiwan

It can be said that government reform has been underway in Taiwan for 50 years, with each successive wave being characterized by a different scope and set of goals. In each instance, nonetheless, the efforts targeted improvements at the administrative level in order to enhance performance and improve service to the public. In comparison, political reforms or reforms at the political level were less prominent. The reason for this had to do with the fact that a period of economic transformation was driving a period of social change, and the notions of political reform were at a very early stage.

With the lifting of martial law in 1987 and the subsequent restoration of democratic institutions, the political environment began gradually to evolve towards a more varied configuration. In administrative terms, the excessive numbers of layers in the bureaucracy and an unclear division of responsibilities were inhibiting government's ability to address the actual needs of society. Even though internal reforms were implemented at every level, the public still did not experience any obvious improvement in government performance. In 1993, the Executive Yuan launched a new program of reforms and set up bodies to monitor their implementation. Over the next three years of effort, the Organic Law of the Executive Yuan was amended on two occasions, without, however, these amendments being approved by the legislature.

In 1997, the big knives came out, and under a simplification program, the functions of the Taiwan provincial government were transferred to the central government, thus reducing the number of levels of government from four to three. This was also the first time such a significant set of political reforms had been implemented on the island.

Governmental reform was quite an international trend at the time, and for its part, Taiwan's Executive Yuan issued in 1998 a set of guidelines for administrative reform that emphasized three areas of activity--organizational reform, human resources and services reform, and legal reform--for priority consideration. …

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