The reform of the Belgian federal administration 10 years on: What balance has been achieved between operational autonomy of top managers and the supervision carried out by the horizontal ministerial departments?

Christian de Visscher, François Randour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In the wake of the Copernic reform, Belgium's senior federal civil servants are now appointed for a fixed term and guided on performance via management plans. This article sets out to assess the impact of the introduction of the fixed-term system on the autonomy of senior civil servants with regard to the horizontal departments responsible for the budget, on the one hand, and human resources, on the other hand, within Belgium's federal administration. Based on the so-called 'inconsistencies' approach, the article focuses briefly on three inconsistencies: internal, discursive and contextual. An analysis of these inconsistencies confirms one of the forms of 'cheating' in the relationship between ministers and senior civil servants formulated by Hood and Lodge (2006), namely that the first can be inclined to reduce the margin of discretion of the latter by maintaining formal or informal mechanisms to exercise control over the provision of resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-51
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Review of Administrative Sciences
Volume80
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • administrative organization and structures
  • human resources management
  • modernization
  • public administration
  • public sector reform

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