The actions of State civil servants are regulated and guided by numerous provisions, guidelines and principles. The higher the office of a person, the more discretion and exemplary conduct is required in his tasks. On the whole, during the last few years, the aim as a rule has been to increase the authority and responsibility of the operating units in order to improve the flexibility and efficiency of administration. The differences between the public and the private sectors have diminished and cross-section cooperation projects are more common than before. It is important that the impartiality, independence and objectivity of State administration can still be trusted. As authority increases, also the importance of civil service ethics is emphasised to a greater extent.

The public administration of Finland has experienced considerable reforms in the 1990s in ways which may also influence civil service ethics. Since 1989, i.a. guidance systems, organisations and personnel policy have been targets of the reform of State administration.
New guidance measures have been adopted in the State budget by changing over to framework guidance. In addition, State agencies have gradually changed over to management by performance and result budgeting. Currently all agencies are granted one appropriation in the State budget for operating costs and the agency itself may decide on its use for different production factors.

Market orientation has increased considerably in the 1990s. The most significant implementation method has been to turn public operations suitable for open competition into business enterprises and companies. As a result of these measures, the number of personnel in State agencies financed by appropriations from the State budget has decreased from approximately 212,000 in 1989 to approximately 125,000 in 1999, i.e., by 41 %. Market orientation has also been increased in State administrative agencies by making services subject to a fee as well as by implementing net budgeting for the operations subject to a fee. The operating

procedures for public procurements are now governed by an Act aiming at competition and at ensuring the objective and non-discriminatory treatment of those participating in the tender procedure.

In the development of administration, also the decentralisation of authority and the reform of structures have been central issues for a long time. The number of norms and authorisations has been reduced and legislative drafting has been developed.

As a result of the reform of State personnel policy, the agencies have the authority to recruit their own personnel and to decide on their pay within the limits of the collective civil-servant agreements. As a result of the reforms, authority concerning resources and personnel policy has mainly been transferred to the agencies. This has meant a significant transfer of power and responsibility to the management of the agency, and the tasks of the directors of the agencies have approached those of corporate executives.

Due to the above-mentioned reforms, the actions of civil servants are much less guided by provisions, regulations and guidelines than previously. Today guidance is implemented by setting a certain framework for the operations and, by providing the necessary financial prerequisites and performance goals. In addition, the guidance of State business enterprises is looser than that of budget-financed agencies and it is based on performance and service-level guidance. The guidance of State companies is mainly limited to owner guidance.

Courtesy: UPSC

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