Opening Public Jobs For The Public

Social Entrepreneurs Initiative: The Winners - Cristian BotanThe Project

Cristian Botan

PhD candidate and Research assistant (Ethics & transparency; Deontology of civil servants) – Faculty of Public Administration, National School for Political Studies and Public Administration, Bucharest (RO)

Romania

Romania is a 23 years old democracy born in late December 1989. In consecutive yearly country reports, the European Commission mentions that in Romania corruption represents “a serious and extensive problem that affects almost every aspect of society”. The reports also highlight that the main actors and institutions engaged in fighting corruption have certain “problems regarding integrity”.

In its latest CPI, Transparency International ranks Romania as having the 3rd most corrupt public sector in the European Union. The 2011 Worldwide Governance Indicators developed by the World Bank rank Romania last place in the EU with regard to “voice and accountability” and “control of corruption”.

It is widely known that most public institutions in Romania (from government to universities, schools, hospitals, etc.) are plagued by clientelism and nepotism.

My project aims at combating these forms of corruption by providing a simple and open mechanism for controlling recruitment and promotion within the civil service. That is, by posting all announcements online so that any person can easily gain access to information about new vacancies and opportunities for promotion within the civil service. The project is already underway, the website has been launched earlier this year and has received wide national acclaim (press articles and TV coverage entitled “the website that defeats the state” or “a 25 year old youngster does with 500 Euros what the government has not been able to do for the past 20 years”1). The website benefits citizens interested in joining the civil service on one hand, as well as the public entities that need to be staffed with people of high qualification and professional conduct, on the other.

Before the existence of PublicJob.ro, if someone of good faith was interested in looking for jobs within public institutions, he’d have to either purchase the Official Government Gazette every day or stop by the notice boards of every institution he was interested in also daily. Because of that, only the few privileged to have connections within the institutions found out about the available jobs so basically the number of people that were applying for jobs was one or two. There was no centralized database of available jobs, you couldn’t search for anything online and even if you did eventually find the information you needed, either the deadline for applying would have in most cases already passed or the job was already unofficially awarded to the person with internal connections so the so-called ‘open and transparent competition’ would be only a formality no matter how well one performed in the written test and the interview.

The number of people that find out about these jobs reflects the number of people that apply and enter the competition. Civil service in Romania can be compared to a room that’s been locked up until now. The objective of this project is to open up the windows from the outside and let in a bit of fresh air. That way, the ‘jobs won’t be just for the boys’ and qualified and righteous people may develop a career in the civil service without having to know someone that’s already on the inside and can put in a good word or even make the decision.

In September 2012 (1–23), PublicJob.ro received over 31,000 unique visitors that were on the website for a total of over 47,000 times. The pages views count 322,000 hits. Also, the total number of people that have subscribed to the weekly newsletter has now reached 8,000.

Game Changing Factor

Traditionally, people are used to seeing change done from top to bottom – from government to citizens. This project is about changing a bit of that custom and proving that change can be done the other way around, that citizens can dictate the way government acts by increasing its level of accountability. The project puts pressure on public institutions to be open about their recruiting and promotion procedures. It’s not about jobs for the boys anymore. Now they know somebody’s watching them. Now they can’t afford slipping it under the rug.

Why I fight Corruption

My name is Cristian Botan, I don’t recall the exact day when I became aware of how harmful corruption is for society, but I do remember that in high-school I was stunned when I found out that if you know the right people, there’s a way you can ‘buy’ the result you’d like to get on your final exam (that’s mandatory in Romania in order to be enrolled in a university). At that point there I thought to myself that that’s something we should change. After graduating, I was admitted in the Faculty of Public Administration. I pursued this field because I imagined myself serving my country by working for the government at some point.