Civil Service Exam

Our system has many flaws but non so egregious as the appointment of amateurs to run our nation’s most important civil programs.

As far back as the 6th century, China exams were introduced for anyone who wished to be appointed a position of leadership within the government bureaucracy. The exam ensured the candidates knew the law, understood the ethics expected, and it ensured that those in power were not influenced by pedigree or affiliation but were bound to the law.

In the 1850s the British Government realized that relying on a system of selection based on “preferment, patronage, and purchase” was rife with opportunities for corruption and inefficiency so they instituted the Civil Service Commission who set about minimum standards for anyone employed by the government. These minimum standards included literacy, numeracy, understanding of the common law, and the workings of government (the constitution [with a little “c” in the case of the UK]).

We need to do this too. Cronies and patrons no matter how worthy their credentials do not necessarily know how the government works. If they cannot pass an exam they should not be permitted to earn a government salary. I’m suggesting this for the appointees, not the politicians.

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