Civil Service

Civil Service

The civil service is independent of government also composed mainly of career bureaucrats hired on professional merit rather than appointed or elected, whose institutional tenure typically survives transitions of political leadership. A civil servant or public servant is a person employed in the public sector on behalf of a government department or agency. A civil servant or public servant’s first priority is to represent the interests of citizens. The extent of civil servants of a state as part of the “civil service” varies from country to country. In the United Kingdom, for instance, only Crown (national government) employees are referred to as civil servants whereas county or city employees are not.

civil servant or public servant is an employee who works in the civilian career public sector for a government department or agency. Many consider the study of civil service to be a part of the field of public administration. Who is a civil servant and who is not is different in different countries. Workers in non-departmental public bodies, (called Quangos in some countries) may also be called civil servants in context with statistics. All people that may be called civil servants together form a nation’s Civil Service or Public Service.

Many consider the study of service to be a part of the field of public administration. Workers in “non-departmental public bodies” (sometimes called “Quangos”) may also be classed as civil servants for the purpose of statistics and possibly for their terms and conditions. Collectively a state’s civil servants form its civil service or public service.

An international civil servant or international staff member is a civilian employee who is employed by an intergovernmental organization. These international civil servants do not resort under any national legislation (from which they have immunity of jurisdiction) but are governed by internal staff regulations. All disputes related to international civil service are brought before special tribunals created by these international organizations such as, for instance, the Administrative Tribunal of the ILO.

Specific referral can be made to the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) of the United Nations, an independent expert body established by the United Nations General Assembly. Its mandate is to regulate and coordinate the conditions of service of staff in the United Nations common system, while promoting and maintaining high standards in the international civil service.

Autocratic systems of government (such as monarchies) can favour appointments to administrative positions on the basis of nepotism, patronage and favoritism, with close relationships between political and administrative figures. Early Roman emperors, for example, set their household slaves and freedmen much of the task of administering the Empire, sidelining the elected officials who continued the traditions of the Roman Republic. But the political appointment of bureaucrats can run the risk of tolerating inefficiency and corruption, with officials feeling secure in the protection of their political masters and possibly immune from prosecution for bribe-taking. 

Song-dynasty China (960–1279) standardised competitive examinations as a basis for civil-service recruitment and promotion, and in the 19th century administrations in France and Britain followed suit. Agitation against the spoils system in the United States of America resulted in increasing the independence of the civil service – seen as an important principle in modern times. In Germany, the Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums of April 1933 re-affirmed the principle of an independent civil service by insisting on training (along with political and racial credentials).

Some governmental structures include a civil service commission (or equivalent) whose functions include maintaining the work and rights of civil servants at arm’s length from potential politicisation or political interference.

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