Making sense of who are government officials

Discussion in 'Regional Assembly' started by Haor Chall, Jan 23, 2019.

  1. Haor Chall

    Haor Chall The Power of the Dark Side Citizen

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    It seems very odd that Deputy Ministers are not currently seen as government officials, which appears to have arisen due to people serving as DM and Deputy Speaker. The Constitution allows for exceptions in the Legal Code, to allow people to serve in more than one position and therefore it seems like quite an easy fix to address this. That said, it does raise an issue in my view with the relevant part of the Constitution which is quite poorly worded and doesn't make clear how this should work either.

    Accordingly I have two linked proposals to address this, the first an addition to the Legal Code to directly fix the issue vis. the deputy speaker and the second a Constitutional amendment to provide clarity over the position of Deputy Ministers or similar. I have streamlined the language here, which maybe reduces the freedom in different appointments - although I don't believe it does, I am a little rusty on what is out there.... It is possible to have a version that sticks with a version of the existing "government officials appointed by government officials" added into Article 7.2 but that just seems messy. Welcome input on this though.


    Addition to the Legal Code, Chapter 6:
    Section 6.5: Deputy Speakers
    19. The Speaker may appointment Deputy Speaker(s), this will be governed within the Rules of the Regional Assembly.
    20. Pursuant to Article 7.10 of the Constitution, appointment as Deputy Speaker does not prevent service as a government official in positions in other categories.

    Constitutional Amendment, Article 7:
    Article 7. General Provisions
    1. Constitutionally-mandated elected officials are the Delegate, Vice Delegate, Speaker, Justices, and Attorney General.
    2. Government officials are the constitutionally-mandated elected officials, any officials appointed by them as permitted by law,any officials appointed by Executive Officers, and members of the Security Council.
    3. The executive category consists of the Delegate, Vice Delegate, Attorney General, Executive Officers and any other government officials appointed by them. and government officials appointed by government officials in the executive category.
    4. The legislative category consists of the Speaker, and any other government officials appointed by the Speaker. government officials appointed by government officials in the legislative category.
    5. The judicial category consists of the Justices, and any other government officials appointed by them.and government officials appointed by government officials in the judicial category.
    6. Any temporary replacement for a government official in the case of an absence or vacancy will be considered a government official in the branch of the official being replaced, regardless of the method of their selection.
    7. All government officials, with the exception of members of the Security Council, must maintain citizenship while in office.
    8. All government officials will swear an oath of office. The content of these oaths will be determined by law and be legally binding.
    9. No person may simultaneously serve in more than one constitutionally-mandated elected official positions.
    10. No person may simultaneously serve in government official positions in more than one of the executive, legislative, or judicial categories. Exceptions to this provision may be established by law.
    11. Candidates in any election must maintain citizenship for the fifteen days before the opening of candidacy declarations and throughout the election.
    12. Government bodies may create rules for their own governance subordinate to this constitution and the laws.
    13. Procedures to fill vacancies and absences in constitutionally-mandated elected offices may be established by law.
    14. No law or government policy may contradict this constitution.
     
  2. Artemis

    Artemis Speaker of the Regional Assembly Speaker Security Council Election Commissioner Citizen

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    Would it be simpler to say that a government official is an official appointed by a constitutionally-mandated elected official?
     
  3. Haor Chall

    Haor Chall The Power of the Dark Side Citizen

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    Simpler, yes. However, not particularly useful or accurate - it's what the current wording is (apart from the slight contradiction implied by the wording in 7.3-5). That is, unless you wanted in combination to make Deputies to Ministers appointed by the Delegate, as that would solve the issue too, but I imagine that's not what you're thinking.

    After some lengthy discussions on Discord, it's clear there is a wider issue with how the Deputy Minister role is being used. I accept that this has evolved in the region over time, but nevertheless I do think it is a problem. This is, on the face of it, largely about terminology but I think there is a significant accountability issue here. A DM who is not a government official but has been given authority or isn't acting or deputising for a Minister is a potential violation of Article 5 of the Bill of Rights. The idea that a post can be called Deputy Minister and yet have no official legal standing as a representative of the government is quite bizarre. If I were a foreign region, and was talking with the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, I would assume - quite understandably - that I was talking to an official in a position to represent their government. In other words.... a government official.

    There is also an inconsistency in that both the Deputy Speaker(s) and the Deputy AG are "proper" Deputies, that is, they can actually deputise for their respective bosses. The Deputy Ministers (if they are not government officials) have no such standing or authority, which is strange although not surprising when both are codified as Deputies in law (unlike DMs).

    DMs then, are not really fulfilling the role of Deputy Ministers if they are not government officials, as they are neither Deputies nor holding a Ministerial appointment (by definition). I do think that having a proper Deputy would be entirely sensible and good practice for the most part, but that is clearly distinct and different from what the current DMs do (in theory, if not always in practice). Nevertheless those currently styled DMs are clearly fulfilling an important role and that shouldn't be overlooked or lost, as this amendment currently might threaten.

    It does seem to me something of a peculiar situation, but one that can easily be addressed to the satisfaction of all those concerned, I believe. I won't have the opportunity to format a proper proposal until I'm back on a decent computer tomorrow, but what I'd like to suggest is the following:

    The Constitution and Legal Code are amended so that; firstly there is an (optional) appointment which Executive Officers can make within their area as a formalised Deputy position, which would be an appointment as a government official and would then have the clear authority and ability to deputise for the Minister as delegated and ensuring proper accountability.

    And secondly, a clear group of appointed positions - whatever their exact title, could be Assistant Minister, for example (not that I'd put that in legislation - following the trend to to not have too many specifics of titles in law and to leave the freedom to allow for a "Cabinet Secretary" or "Ambassador-General" or however you wished to call it) - these would be the range of roles which DM currently seems to cover, without the issues that title has. What this would also allow is for those positions to not be government officials and codified as such - removing the problem of people holding multiple of these positions.

    Does that make sense? I'll try and put something together to show what I mean in practice tomorrow.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019
  4. Bobberino

    Bobberino NPA Colonel, DMoD/HA/Co, Deputy Speaker Deputy Speaker Deputy Minister NPA Citizen

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    Like I asked on Discord, several times, what exactly is "deputising" as it should be defined legally?
     
  5. Crushing Our Enemies

    Crushing Our Enemies TNPer Administrator Supporter Security Council Attorney General Election Commissioner Citizen

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    Considering that deputy ministers are essentially just an elevated role within the Executive Staff, why not encourage the executive branch to call them something that reflects that reality, such as "Senior Staff" or something? I agree that the current terminology is misleading, but I'm not sure there's a need to change the law.
     
  6. Lord Lore

    Lord Lore I'm anything you want me to be. Supporter Security Council Citizen

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    I agree that it needs to be cleaned up, still a little iffy about this exact proposal.

    Just want to point out the obvious but I think the addition to the Justice category is a little redundant since you can't appoint Deputy Justices.

    "5. The judicial category consists of the Justices, and Temporary Hearing Officers" would probably work better.
     
  7. Haor Chall

    Haor Chall The Power of the Dark Side Citizen

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    Well that would be the simplest option, but there was a lot of opposition to that. Also, it does seem reasonable to allow for a proper Deputy to be appointed as well.

    Good point, I was just keeping the terminology consistent with the previous version.
     
  8. Bobberino

    Bobberino NPA Colonel, DMoD/HA/Co, Deputy Speaker Deputy Speaker Deputy Minister NPA Citizen

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    Again, bumping this.
     
  9. Crushing Our Enemies

    Crushing Our Enemies TNPer Administrator Supporter Security Council Attorney General Election Commissioner Citizen

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    Bobb, deputising is the act of making someone a deputy, and the subject of this entire thread. I'm not sure I've interpreted your question correctly, cause the answer seems so obvious.
     
  10. Haor Chall

    Haor Chall The Power of the Dark Side Citizen

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    Yes, I'm still not clear why the dictionary definition is insufficient in this case.

    So, anyway, in addition to the above two amendments, the following section of the Legal Code would also be amended. In combination these changes would resolve this issue of properly accountable government officials and ensure a sound legal basis for a wide range of appointments within the executive staff (noting, unless I've missed it, that the executive staff isn't defined legally anywhere). The wording probably needs tweaking, and I'd welcome any suggestions on that front but hopefully the intent is clear.

    The ordering of 7.1 also seems to be back to front to me, so I've taken the opportunity to reorder it more logically - particularly with the amendments in mind. Note I haven't put the proper coding or number edits on that yet though just suggested the order it should be changed to. Thoughts?

    Section 7.1: Definitions
    5. The WA Delegate is the nation holding the WA Delegacy of the region The North Pacific.
    4. The Serving Delegate is the person holding the constitutionally-mandated elected office of the Delegate or, in the case of a vacancy in that office, the person that has assumed the duties of that office.
    2. Executive Officers are government officials appointed by the Delegate to assist in the execution of their duties.
    3. Advisors to the Delegate are government officials appointed by the Delegate who serve only to advise the Delegate, and are exempt from constitutional restrictions on holding multiple government offices for purposes of their appointment.
    6. Government officials appointed by Executive Officers to assist in the execution of their duties may serve as Deputies, with the delegated authority to act on their behalf.
    7. The Executive Staff are the citizens who have volunteered to assist the Delegate and the Executive Officers in the conduct of their duties. Executive Staff are therefore not government officials and cannot hold delegated authority or deputize for their relevant Executive Officer.
    8. Senior Staff are those within the Executive Staff with the skills and experience to provide more support and advice to their Executive Officers, particularly with the management and organisation of the Executive Staff. They are appointed by Executive Officers, but remain within the Executive Staff and are not considered appointments as government officials pursuant to Article 7 of the Constitution.
     
  11. TlomzKrano

    TlomzKrano Just a blob chasing cars Minister Deputy Minister NPA Citizen

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    Not sure how to feel about this. In my eyes, deputies = senior staff who possess experience and the ability to take over a leadership role in the ministry if needed. Not to say that those who don't have deputy status aren't experience. While DMs aren't bound by any legal repercussions such as Gross Misconduct, I don't know if they should be. DMs have no obligation to do their jobs but do it because of their support for a ministry and when they fuck up, it should be on their boss.

    Just my disorganized 2 cents.
     
  12. Haor Chall

    Haor Chall The Power of the Dark Side Citizen

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    Well this is exactly the point - what you describe is the role that they currently carry out but that isn't really a Deputy and, accordingly, it should not be called such.
     
  13. King SillyString

    King SillyString TNPer Administrator Supporter Security Council Election Commissioner Justice Citizen

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    My stance on this is that there should be a coordination between the people who are classified as "government officials", and the people who wield government power.

    For example, Deputy Speakers are able to wield the power of the Speaker to put bills to vote, to admit or deny citizens, and so on, while Deputy AGs are able to wield the power of the AG to bring requests for review or to oversee the prosecution of criminal trials.

    Ministers also wield some of the power of the executive, though they do so to a lesser extent than deputies in other branches - for example, any treaty negotiated by the FA Minister still needs to be signed off on, and presented to the RA, by the Delegate. The Communications ministry puts out communications on behalf of the executive (and, I believe, does not require the delegate's sign-off on every draft), but publishing a newspaper in and of itself is not reserved to the government. So mostly the power that ministers wield is that of being able to officially speak for the government.

    When it comes to deputy ministers, though, it is rare that we see them actually exercising any of that power themselves - mostly, as Tlomz said, they serve as senior staff and help keep things organized. Mostly, when I can think of deputy ministers wielding government power, it is when they are filling in for the minister temporarily.

    Now, there is one section of the Constitution that might apply in that case:
    By my reading, a DM who fills in for a Minister due to vacancy or absence is a government official for the duration of their fill-in, even though they were not a government official prior to that, and will go back to not being one once a new minister is selected. But this law does not apply in all cases of a deputy stepping up; a minister taking a short vacation would not qualify as vacant or absent, and thus this clause would not be triggered.

    It might make sense to amend this clause to say "absence, vacancy, or temporary unavailability", but I haven't had a chance to see if that would have greater unwanted implications in other roles.
     
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  14. Haor Chall

    Haor Chall The Power of the Dark Side Citizen

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    This is the contradictory nature of the issue though, you say they're rarely exercising any power themselves and mostly serve as senior staff (so why not call an apple an apple?). But you then say about deputy ministers filling in for the minister temporarily (e.g. acting as a Deputy - as the name would suggest), so they do exercise delegated Executive power on occasion. In which case, regardless of how rare an occasion it might be, they are nevertheless acting as a government official and should be considered as such (e.g. ref the quoted section). I'd be of the view that failure to recognise such properly is an accountability issue and accordingly is a violation of the Bill of Rights. Also, I'm not sure why you think a short vacation would not qualify as an absence - that is what it is - and that is how any similar such office would treat it in the real world. That said, I'm not convinced at all that relying on that section to manage this is a particularly effective or efficient way of approaching it.

    I'm not saying, btw, that this is some enormous problem but it is an issue in how a fairly basic principle of governing is managed in our systems. Making a clear distinction between individuals empowered to act as a Deputy (on the occasions it is reqd) and those simply helping out as senior staff within a Ministry is something which we should be able to do and currently cannot.
     
  15. King SillyString

    King SillyString TNPer Administrator Supporter Security Council Election Commissioner Justice Citizen

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    Absence is defined within the law, it's not just anybody who's gone - it refers to people who are, by law, temporarily incapable of serving in their office. For example, when serving as Delegate, the Vice Delegate is legally absent from the Vice Delegacy.

    I was not disagreeing with the conflict or concern; it is something I have agreed with for some time. I was pointing out that it is not as simple as just making deputy ministers government officials all the time, or as giving them some other non-official name and never letting them step into an official role. It is a complex issue and I think it will require a carefully considered and worded solution.
     
  16. Haor Chall

    Haor Chall The Power of the Dark Side Citizen

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    Ah okay, thanks - I had missed that nugget in the election law.

    I take your point, but that's why I'm proposing that we enable both options - by making senior staff appointments exist which are not govt officials but also allowing the option of a "proper" deputy to be appointed as well. Quite deliberately neither are mandatory, so they can be used (or not) by executive officers as they wish - also giving a degree of flexibility, as for example you could choose to just appoint senior staff and no deputy at the start of the term and then if/when going on leave, etc, appoint one of those senior staff as a "proper" DM (becoming a govt official, etc) for that period and removing that appointment on your return (if you wanted). So I think that would address the issue without being overly prescriptive, as per your concerns, providing both the necessary accountability and also the flexibility in operation which is needed.
     
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  17. Haor Chall

    Haor Chall The Power of the Dark Side Citizen

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    So, below are the collected amendments required for this. Any specific thoughts/suggestions on these proposals - @King SillyString @Artemis ? Note - I have taken the opportunity to reorder 7.1 as it makes more sense to me that way, it's not that relevant to the purposes of the bill so happy to remove if that is preferred.


    Making sense of government officials Omnibus bill


    Constitutional Amendment, Article 7:

    Article 7. General Provisions
    1. Constitutionally-mandated elected officials are the Delegate, Vice Delegate, Speaker, Justices, and Attorney General.
    2. Government officials are the constitutionally-mandated elected officials, any officials appointed by them as permitted by law,any officials appointed by Executive Officers, and members of the Security Council.
    3. The executive category consists of the Delegate, Vice Delegate, Attorney General, Executive Officers and any other government officials appointed by them. and government officials appointed by government officials in the executive category.
    4. The legislative category consists of the Speaker, and any other government officials appointed by the Speaker. government officials appointed by government officials in the legislative category.
    5. The judicial category consists of the Justices, and temporary hearing officers appointed by them.and government officials appointed by government officials in the judicial category.
    6. Any temporary replacement for a government official in the case of an absence or vacancy will be considered a government official in the branch of the official being replaced, regardless of the method of their selection.
    7. All government officials, with the exception of members of the Security Council, must maintain citizenship while in office.
    8. All government officials will swear an oath of office. The content of these oaths will be determined by law and be legally binding.
    9. No person may simultaneously serve in more than one constitutionally-mandated elected official positions.
    10. No person may simultaneously serve in government official positions in more than one of the executive, legislative, or judicial categories. Exceptions to this provision may be established by law.
    11. Candidates in any election must maintain citizenship for the fifteen days before the opening of candidacy declarations and throughout the election.
    12. Government bodies may create rules for their own governance subordinate to this constitution and the laws.
    13. Procedures to fill vacancies and absences in constitutionally-mandated elected offices may be established by law.
    14. No law or government policy may contradict this constitution.

    Addition to the Legal Code, Chapter 6.5 & 7.1:

    Section 6.5: Deputy Speakers

    19. The Speaker may appointment Deputy Speaker(s), this will be governed within the Rules of the Regional Assembly.
    20. Pursuant to Article 7.10 of the Constitution, appointment as Deputy Speaker does not prevent service as a government official in positions in other categories.


    Section 7.1: Definitions
    2.5. The WA Delegate is the nation holding the WA Delegacy of the region The North Pacific.
    3.4. The Serving Delegate is the person holding the constitutionally-mandated elected office of the Delegate or, in the case of a vacancy in that office, the person that has assumed the duties of that office.
    4.2. Executive Officers are government officials appointed by the Delegate to assist in the execution of their duties.
    5.3. Advisors to the Delegate are government officials appointed by the Delegate who serve only to advise the Delegate, and are exempt from constitutional restrictions on holding multiple government offices for purposes of their appointment.
    6. Government officials appointed by Executive Officers to assist in the execution of their duties may serve as Deputies, with the delegated authority to act on their behalf.
    7. The Executive Staff are the citizens who have volunteered to assist the Delegate and the Executive Officers in the conduct of their duties. Executive Staff are therefore not government officials and cannot hold delegated authority or deputize for their relevant Executive Officer.
    8. Senior Staff are those within the Executive Staff with the skills and experience to provide more support and advice to their Executive Officers, particularly with the management and organisation of the Executive Staff. They are appointed by Executive Officers, but remain within the Executive Staff and are not considered appointments as government officials pursuant to Article 7 of the Constitution.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2019 at 8:05 AM
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  18. Xyre

    Xyre TNPer Citizen

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    I'm for these amendments.
     
  19. King SillyString

    King SillyString TNPer Administrator Supporter Security Council Election Commissioner Justice Citizen

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    If you make the change in clause 2, you do not need the change to clause 3. However, I don't think the change to clause 2 is ideal - see below.

    Justices are not currently granted the power to appoint officials, so this change has no meaning and I don't like it.

    If there is interest in granting the court that power, I think it would be best served by a separate discussion and bill.


    19 is not needed, as the ability to appoint deputies is granted under the constitution.

    I wholeheartedly disagree with 20. Deputy speakers wield the power of the speaker and it would be inappropriate for them to serve in other government officialships (except for the SC).

    Not thrilled here either. There's a sharp inconsistency with saying that "people appointed by ministers are government officials" and then saying in another (lesser) document "some of the people appointed by ministers are not government officials". That would probably run into legal problems very quickly.

    I think it would be much more straightforward and require fewer changes if we were to mandate that deputy ministers be appointed by the delegate, not by the minister; that deputy ministers are not required and the minister is free to rely on senior staff for non-power-wielding-activities; and that only a duly appointed deputy minister may step up temporarily to serve as minister while the minister is unavailable, absent, or vacant.

    This way ministers would be free to hand out any positions they want, like candy, and award people with titles without having to worry about "appointing" them or not, and we would have a more clearly defined system for deputization when it is called for.
     
  20. Crushing Our Enemies

    Crushing Our Enemies TNPer Administrator Supporter Security Council Attorney General Election Commissioner Citizen

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    I like the idea of deputy ministers being appointed by the delegate, and ministers being able to hand out powerless titles at will, with no officialdom granted.