The term civil service can refer to either a branch of governmental service in which individuals are employed (hired) on the basis of professional merit as proven by competitive examinations; or the body of employees in any government agency apart from the military, which is a separate extension of any national government.
A civil servant or public servant is a person in the public sector employed for a government department or agency. 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.
Many consider the study of civil 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 that 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 an 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. (For more info see International Civil Service Update by Bertold Theeuwes.)
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.
- 1 History
- 2 By countries
- 3 See also
- 4 References
- 5 Further reading
- 6 External links
Civil service in China
An early meritocratic civil service was established in Imperial China with the implementation of Imperial examinations. The Imperial exam was designed to select the best administrative officials for the state's bureaucracy. This system had a huge influence on both society and culture in Imperial China and was directly responsible for the creation of a class of scholar-bureaucrats irrespective of their family pedigree.
Originally, appointments to the bureaucracy were based on the patronage of aristocrats; Emperor Wu of Han started an early form of the imperial examinations, transitioning from inheritance and patronage to merit, in which local officials would select candidates to take part in an examination of the Confucian classics. The system reached its apogee during the Song dynasty.
In theory, the Chinese civil-service system provided one of the major outlets for social mobility in Chinese society, although in practice, due to the time-consuming nature of the study, the examination was generally only taken by sons of the landed gentry. The examination tested the candidate's memorization of the Nine Classics of Confucianism and his ability to compose poetry using fixed and traditional forms and calligraphy. In the late 19th century the system came under increasing internal dissatisfaction, and it was criticized as not reflecting the candidate's ability to govern well, and for giving precedence to style over content and originality of thought. The system was finally abolished by the Qing government in 1905, as part of a package of reforms.
The Chinese system was often admired by European commentators from the 16th century onward.
Modern civil service
In the 18th century, in response to economic changes and the growth of the British Empire, the bureaucracy of institutions such as the Office of Works and the Navy Board greatly expanded. Each had its own system, but in general, staff were appointed through patronage or outright purchase. By the 19th century, it became increasingly clear that these arrangements were falling short. In 1806, the Honourable East India Company established a college, the East India Company College, near London to train and examine administrators of the Company's territories in India. Examinations for the Indian 'civil service'- a term coined by the Company - were introduced in 1829.
British efforts at reform were influenced by the imperial examinations system and meritocratic system of China. Thomas Taylor Meadows, Britain's consul in Guangzhou, China argued in his Desultory Notes on the Government and People of China, published in 1847, that "the long duration of the Chinese empire is solely and altogether owing to the good government which consists in the advancement of men of talent and merit only," and that the British must reform their civil service by making the institution meritocratic.
In 1853 the Chancellor of the Exchequer William Gladstone, commissioned Sir Stafford Northcote and Charles Trevelyan to look into the operation and organisation of the Civil Service.Influenced by the Chinese Imperial Examinations,the Northcote-Trevelyan Report of 1854 made four principal recommendations: that recruitment should be on the basis of merit determined through competitive examination, that candidates should have a solid general education to enable inter-departmental transfers, that recruits should be graded into a hierarchy and that promotion should be through achievement, rather than 'preferment, patronage or purchase'. It also recommended a clear division between staff responsible for routine ("mechanical") work, and those engaged in policy formulation and implementation in an "administrative" class.
The report was well-timed, because bureaucratic chaos during the Crimean War was causing a clamour for the change. The report's conclusions were immediately implemented, and a permanent, unified and politically neutral civil service was introduced as Her Majesty's Civil Service. A Civil Service Commission was also set up in 1855 to oversee open recruitment and end patronage, and most of the other Northcote-Trevelyan recommendations were implemented over some years.
The same model, the Imperial Civil Service, was implemented in British India from 1858, after the demise of the East India Company's rule in India through the Indian Rebellion of 1857 which came close to toppling British rule in the country.
The Northcote-Trevelyan model remained essentially stable for a hundred years. This was a tribute to its success in removing corruption, delivering public services (even under the stress of two world wars), and responding effectively to political change. It also had a great international influence and was adapted by members of the Commonwealth. The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act established a modern civil service in the United States, and by the turn of the 20th century almost all Western governments had implemented similar reforms.
Civil servants in Brazil, Servidores públicos in Portuguese, are those working in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the federal government, state government, municipal government and the Government of Brasilia, including congressmen, senators, mayors, ministers, the president of the republic, and workers in Government-owned corporation.
Career civil servants (not temporary workers or politicians) are hired only externally on the basis of entrance examinations known as Concurso Público in Portuguese, usually consisting of a written test, also some posts may require physical tests (like policemen) or oral tests (like judges, prosecutors and attorneys). The position according to the examination score is used for filling the vacancies.
The entrance examination are conducted by several companies with a government mandate; the best known are CESPE (which belongs to the University of Brasilia), the FGV (Getulio Vargas Foundation), ESAF, and the Cesgranrio Foundation (which is part of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro).
The labour laws and social insurance for civil servants are different from private workers, even between government branches (like different states or cities) the law and insurance differ between them.
The posts usually are ranked by titles, the most common are technician for high school literates and analyst for graduate literates. There's also high post ranks like auditor, fiscal, chief of police, prosecutor, judge, attorney, etc. Those titles may require master's degree or doctorate.
The law doesn't allow servants to upgrade or downgrade posts internally, if they want to do that they need to pass in another external entrance examination.
Canada's federal public service comprises approximately 200 departments, agencies, commissions, boards, councils, and crown corporations. There are 423,781 active contributors to the federal public service, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Canadian Forces pension plans. This represents about 2.3 percent of the Canadian workforce of 18.7 million. Each provincial government also has its own public service. In 2010, all provincial governments' public service were employing a total of more than 350 000 people.
One of the oldest examples of a civil service based on meritocracy is the Imperial bureaucracy of China, which can be traced as far back as the Qin Dynasty (221–207 BC). During the Han Dynasty (202 BC–220 AD) the xiaolian system of recommendation by superiors for appointments to office was established. In the areas of administration, especially the military, appointments were based solely on merit.
After the fall of the Han Dynasty, the Chinese bureaucracy regressed into a semi-merit system known as the Nine-rank system; in this system noble birthright became the most significant prerequisite for gaining access to more authoritative posts.
This system was reversed during the short-lived Sui Dynasty (581–618), which initiated a civil service bureaucracy recruited through written examinations and recommendation. The following Tang Dynasty (618–907) adopted the same measures for drafting officials, and decreasingly relied on aristocratic recommendations and more and more on promotion based on the results of written examinations.
However, the civil service examinations were practiced on a much smaller scale in comparison to the stronger, centralized bureaucracy of the Song Dynasty (960–1279). In response to the regional military rule of jiedushi and the loss of civil authority during the late Tang period and Five Dynasties (907–960), the Song emperors were eager to implement a system where civil officials would owe their social prestige to the central court and gain their salaries strictly from the central government. This ideal was not fully achieved since many scholar officials were affluent landowners and were engaged in many anonymous business affairs in an age of economic revolution in China. Nonetheless, gaining a degree through three levels of examination — prefectural exams, provincial exams, and the prestigious palace exams — was a far more desirable goal in society than becoming a merchant. This was because the mercantile class was traditionally regarded with some disdain by the scholar official class.
This class of state bureaucrats in the Song period were far less aristocratic than their Tang predecessors. The examinations were carefully structured in order to ensure that people of lesser means than what was available to candidates born into wealthy, landowning families were given a greater chance to pass the exams and obtain an official degree. This included the employment of a bureau of copyists who would rewrite all of the candidates' exams in order to mask their handwriting and thus prevent favoritism by graders of the exams who might otherwise recognize a candidate's handwriting. The advent of widespread printing in the Song period allowed many more examination candidates access to the Confucian texts whose mastery was required for passing the exams.
The Public Service in Germany (Öffentlicher Dienst) consists of 4.6 million employees as of 2011. Public servants are organized into three categories: blue-collar workers (Arbeiter) , salaried emploies, (Angestellte), and directors (Beamte). All three groups are employed by public bodies (Körperschaften des öffentlichen Rechts), such as counties (kreise), states, the federal government, etc.
Arbeiter in public service serve mostly in low-skilled labour such as construction, waste collection or manual office work. In some cases, training is not obligatory.
Angestellte work in technical, vocational, and office work in a very large range of occupational fields. In most cases, they have received training aside from their government agency prior to employment, e.g. they learned to program computers before they were hired to do that by a government agency.
Beamte has been a title for government employees for several centuries in German states, but became a standarized group in 1794. Soldiers other than conscriptive soldiers are not Beamte but have similar rights. Judges and public attorneys are all Beamte, while most professors are Beamte but not all. The group of Beamte have the most secure employment, and the amount they are paid is set by national pay regulations (Besoldungsordnungen). Beamte are prohibited from striking.
Arbeiter and Angestelle work with individual contracts, while Beamte are appointed, employed, and removed by the Public Sector Service and Loyality law (öffentlich-rechtliches Dienst- und Treueverhältnis).
Beamte are divided into four levels
- Einfacher Dienst: ordinary civil service, corresponding to enlisted ranks in the military, now largely obsolete
- Mittlerer Dienst: medium-level civil service, corresponding to non-commissioned officers in the military
- Gehobener Dienst: senior civil service, including civil servant positions such as Inspektor and above, corresponding to commissioned officers from lieutenant to captain in the military
- Höherer Dienst: higher civil service, including civil servant positions such as Rat (Councillor) and above as well as academic employees such as Professors, corresponding to major and above in the military
Gehobener Dienst and Höherer Dienst both require a university education or equivalent, at the very least a bachelor's or master's degree, respectively.
Controversies about the institution of the Civil Service in Greece are widespread. Typically, they concern the allegedly large numbers of public employees, the lack of adequate meritocracy in their employment, the strong ties that significant portions of public employees maintain with political parties and the clientelism that this relationship incubates, internal inequalities of wages among public employees, and inequalities of the high income of public employees relevant to that of private sector workers. The Civil Service payscale is also controversial given the conditions before the financial crisis that made being a civil servant a dream-job.
In India, the Civil Service is defined as "appointive positions by the Government in connection with the affairs of the Union and includes a civilian in a Defence Service, except positions in the Indian Armed Forces." The members of civil service serve at the pleasure of the President of India and Article 311 of the constitution protects them from politically motivated or vindictive action.
The Civil Services of India can be classified into two types - the All India Services and the Central Civil Services (Group A and B). The recruits are university graduates (or above) selected through a rigorous system of examinations, called the Civil Services Examination (CSE) and its technical counterpart known as the Engineering Services Examination (ESE) both conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The entry into the State Civil Services is through a competitive examination conducted by every state public service commission.
Senior positions in civil service are listed and named in the Order of Precedence of India.
The civil service of Ireland includes the employees of the Department of State (excluded are government ministers and a small number of paid political advisors) as well as a small number of core state agencies such as the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, the Office of Public Works, and the Public Appointments Service. The organisation of the Irish Civil Service is very similar to the traditional organization of the British Home Civil Service, and indeed the grading system in the Irish Civil Service is nearly identical to the traditional grading system of its British counterpart. In Ireland, public sector employees such as teachers or members of the country's police force, An Garda Síochána are not considered to be civil servants, but are rather described as "public servants" (and form the public service of the Republic of Ireland).
The civil service in Spain (función pública) is usually considered to include all the employees at the different levels of the Spanish public administration: central government, autonomous communities, as well as municipalities. There are three main categories of Spanish public positions: temporary political posts ("personal funcionario eventual"), which require a simple procedure for hire and dismiss and is associated to top level executives and advisors, statutory permanent posts ("funcionarios de carrera"), which require a formal procedure for access that usually involves a competition among candidates and whose tenants are subject to a special statutory relationship of work with their employers, and non statutory permanent posts ("personal laboral"), which also require a formal procedure for entry similar to the procedure required for the "funcionarios de carrera", but whose tenants are subject to normal working conditions and laws. Competitions differ notably among the state, the 17 autonomous communities and the city councils, and the "funcionarios de carrera" and "personal laboral" examinations vary in difficulty from one location to another.
As of 2011, there were 2.6 million civil servants in Spain (22% work for the central state, 50% for the Autonomous communities, 4% for the Universities and 22% for local organization such as municipalities and provinces).
In December 2011, the government of Rajoy announced that civil servants have to serve a minimum 37.5 working hours per week regardless of their place or kind of service.
The civil service in the United Kingdom only includes Crown (i.e. central government) employees, not parliamentary employees or local government employees. Public sector employees such as those in education and the NHS are not considered to be civil servants. Police officers and staff are also not civil servants.
Civil servants in the devolved government in Northern Ireland are not part of the Home Civil Service, but constitute the separate Northern Ireland Civil Service. Employees of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are members of HM Diplomatic Service, which is associated with but separate from the Civil Service.
In the United States, the civil service was established in 1871. The Federal Civil Service is defined as "all appointive positions in the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of the Government of the United States, except positions in the uniformed services." (5 U.S.C. § 2101). In the early 19th century, government jobs were held at the pleasure of the president — a person could be fired at any time. The spoils system meant that jobs were used to support the political parties. This was changed in slow stages by the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883 and subsequent laws. By 1909, almost two thirds of the U.S. federal work force was appointed based on merit, that is, qualifications measured by tests. Certain senior civil service positions, including some heads of diplomatic missions and executive agencies are filled by political appointees. Under the Hatch Act of 1939, civil servants are not allowed to engage in political activities while performing their duties.
The U.S. civil service includes the Competitive service and the Excepted service. The majority of civil service appointments in the U.S. are made under the Competitive Service, but certain categories in the Diplomatic Service, the FBI, and other National Security positions are made under the Excepted Service. (U.S. Code Title V)
U.S. state and local government entities often have competitive civil service systems that are modeled on the national system, in varying degrees.
As of January 2007, the federal government, excluding the Postal Service, employed about 1.8 million civilian workers. The federal government is the nation's single largest employer, although it employs only about 12% of all government employees, compared to 24% at the state level and 63% at the local level. Although most federal agencies are based in the Washington D.C. region, only about 16% (or about 284,000) of the federal government workforce is employed in this region.
As of 2014, there are currently 15 federal executive branch agencies and hundreds of subagencies.
Civil servants are recruited directly into the institutions after being selected by competitions set by EPSO, the official selection office. They are allocated to departments, known as Directorates-General (DGs), each covering one or more related policy areas.
By continent or region
- Public Service of Canada
- Civil service in the United States
Pay and benefits
- Performance-related pay
- Pay for performance
- Performance-related pay
- Incentive program
- For more info see The Law Of The International Civil Service by Chittharanjan Felix Amerasinghe
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|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Civil Service.|
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- The U.K Civil Service, official site
- Brazilian Civil servants
- "Civil Service". New International Encyclopedia. 1905.
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