Opinion: A More Comprehensive Executive Re-Imagining
What does Europeia need now?
Written by McEntire
When I ran in the Senate by-election to replace Sopo, I laid out three criteria for any executive reform. Those criteria were:
- Create more exciting elections.
- Integrate the domestic and foreign sides of executive policy, which are not and should not be separate.
- Facilitate a manageable workload for the new executive.
In order to rein in the executive portfolio, the Senate has made two major changes to the pre-split system: (1) Vice Presidents will also have a ministry portfolio; and (2) there will likely be a "soft cap" of 6 ministries, after which the confirmation threshold will rise. When we really think about it, those two changes do not add up to an executive that is doing less than before. Senators will need to hold the executive accountable for doing less, which frankly the Senate -- past and present (myself included) -- have been loath to do.
Imagine Malashaan being given Istillian's portfolio on top of his own right now, or vice versa. I don't know if we, as the Senate, have truly thought through what this could look like. As I have advocated since the beginning of this reform process, let's go back to basics. I want to propose an alternate system, and start off with some definitions, so that we are all on the same page.
- Policy area - a group of related policies that are wide enough to merit a dedicated section of the executive government. Examples of this would be military gameplay (the Navy), the recruitment and retention of new members (Interior), and regional festivals/events (Culture). A policy area can be taken in a different direction by political concerns and innovation, and generally requires a full organization (ministry) performing different tasks to accomplish a goal. One person can't do all the work required to sustain a policy area.
- Functions - a mission accomplished by an organization, that is typically ongoing. Some of these are within ministries, while some are outside. For instance, the function of public media is accomplished through the EBC and EBC Radio. The writing of Legislative Assessments (LAs) is the ongoing function of the Ministry of Justice. The ongoing function of regional intelligence is served by the Europeian Intelligence Agency (EIA).
- Tasks - a task, like a function, would be an ongoing mission, but accomplished by an individual or small group. And, importantly, it cuts across policy areas. Examples of this would be communications - all ministries focus on communicating their efforts. Or employment and staffing. Or, to use a current example, coordination across ministries.
Let's tie the definitions above to the chart. Those in orange, which I have labeled as "Executive Staff," serve tasks. Communications strategy, coordination, and legal advice are three tasks that span across different areas of policy (LAs are... decidedly not an executive task, and I'm not sure why they're under the executive, to be honest). In blue, which I have labeled as "Ministries," serve policy areas. The Navy and Foreign Affairs, Interior, and Culture Ministries serve large areas of the region, which don't overlap, serve a specific mission, and require an organization to complete that mission.
As for the third category, which I have termed "Semi-Independent Agencies." I say "semi" because these agencies ultimately report to the executive. But, the reason that I have given them some independence, is that they serve particular functions that wouldn't change from administration to administration. The mission of the EIA can continue independent of the direction of a particular administration. The WAA can continue to administer the way it works from administration to administration, while working with the FA Minister to serve our foreign policy goals.
The more controversial proposal I've made is giving our public media entities, the EBC and EBC Radio, more independence. In my opinion, the Director of the EBC and EBC Radio should have appointments that span more than a term, that way they are given a longer time to build up their infrastructure and give us more consistency. Here's one important distinction: what we call communications is actually two functions: public media and communications strategy. Comms strategy would include dispatches, press releases, and many of the current functions of the Communications Ministry. Public media is the actual organization that puts those things out, in this case the EBC and EBC Radio. In my mind, these are separate. Comms strategy is a task that spans across policy areas, public media is an ongoing function that can be separate from political considerations. For that reason, I have proposed a communications staffer who closely coordinates with the semi-independent EBC and EBC Radio, whose head is still appointed by the President.
All of that is to say, I believe that this strategy I have laid out accomplishes all three of the goals that I personally had for reform: more exciting elections, integration of the domestic and foreign, and a manageable executive, where the President is directly managing a smaller number of ministries. Some essential functions would be mainly managed outside, but ultimately accountable to the President. These agencies could continue to run their employment through Employment Central, and work in much the same way as they do now, but with a longer time horizon.
In order to accomplish this re-imagined executive, I would propose the following three changes to the current reform proposal:
- Create, as Prim has discussed elsewhere, a separate act that lays out what these semi-independent agencies are, what their powers are, how they're defined, and the term length of their directors
- Decide which functions we would want to be semi-independent (I anticipate this being the hardest part)
- Name the actual core ministries, with a mechanism to add others if need be (with a high threshold). The current reform has sought to limit the number of allowed ministries, but curiously hasn't proposed what an actual cabinet structure would look like. Which do we keep, which do we cut? The only answer given to this has been "soft cap"
A modern executive could look a hell of a lot different than the parameters under which the current reform debate is defined. The only question is, do we want to pursue it?