Publicly funded organizations to lose administrative rankings

Updated: 2013-11-19 01:14

By Zhao Lei (China Daily)

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Publicly funded organizations in China will gradually be removed from the system of administrative rankings that has kept some of the groups on par with higher levels of government, according to a senior official in charge of administrative reform.

"Accelerating the reform of publicly funded organizations will provide better service to the public," Wang Feng, deputy director of the State Commission Office for Public Sector Reform, said on Sunday.

The reform will rectify some tangled relations between the government and publicly funded organizations, speed up the formation of their corporate-governance structures, improve public services and gradually abolish administrative ranks.

Based on a practice that has been followed for several decades, many publicly funded organizations were given an administrative rank equal to those of government organs.

For example, prestigious universities usually have an administrative rank of vice-ministerial level.

Such rankings can facilitate operations, as well as add prestige and possibly bring a host of benefits available to government employees.

Some publicly funded organizations with suitable conditions will be transformed into enterprises or social organizations, Wang added.

"The reform of the administrative system is directly related to the adjustment of the power structure as well as the established interests of government departments," Wang said.

"Many conflicts of interest are interwoven with complicated problems, and sometimes you can't circumvent them before pushing forward reforms. So determination, prudence and courage are needed in reforms."

The removal of publicly funded organizations' administrative ranks was welcomed by many experts, who said the rank sometimes hinders development.

"The government department-style management of research institutes seriously affects the innovation capability of researchers," said Zhang Yun from the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences.

"The knowledge structure and responsibilities of researchers are different from those of government employees, so you shouldn't place them in the same management and review system. The government's move will relieve researchers from many obstacles in their career paths."

Liu Junsheng, a professor on administrative governance at China University of Political Science and Law, said though the central government is serious about the reform of publicly funded organizations, time will show whether local authorities are willing to give up their grip on such organizations.

In addition, he suggested that publicly funded organizations should produce their own reform roadmap to coordinate with the government's plan.

As of August 2012, there were more than 1.1 million publicly funded organizations in China, employing more than 30 million people, according to the State Commission Office for Public Sector Reform.