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Challenges in recruitment procedures in the Georgian civil service.

Georgia was one of the fifteen Soviet republics that began building their statehood anew after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Unlike other post-Soviet republics, Georgia lost more than a decade because of the civil war, ethnic conflicts, and tensions with its neighbours. Unable to launch reforms in the 1990s, Georgia stepped into the twenty-first century labelled as a "failing state" and claimed as an example of how small, poor countries are not able to survive without a strong protector. Accustomed to fraudulent elections and blatant corruption of the ruling elites, the population of Georgia led a hand-to-mouth existence without expecting the state to provide even basic services, such as protection from criminals, healthcare, gas and electricity supply (Schultz, Abashidze, 2007).

The turning point came with the winter of 2003 when, following the "Rose Revolution," (3) a group of young and ambitious politicians came to power and launched reforms that turned the dying country into the "top reformer." (4) Impressive success in several directions, such as law enforcement, education system, tax collection etc., gave Georgians and other people of the post-Soviet countries, plagued by corruption and inefficient administrations, the hope that a breakthrough was still possible.

Cleansing the state bureaucracy of corrupt networks and practices, the government instituted a flexible model of civil service with minimal procedures for skilled, mostly young people to enter the service, and wide opportunities to move and change positions within the system. This approach allowed moving necessary human resources from one institution to another, according to the needs of the reform process. The agenda of the "revolutionary government" was fast economic development at any stake, and this approach did bring quick results. Nevertheless, there was much criticism from the local and international non-governmental institutions, concerning the "draconic" labour code and negligence of the rights of the employed. (5)

After the war with Russia in August 2008, the reforms have seriously faltered. In 2012, the ruling party lost the elections, and a coalition of parties came into power. Criticizing and openly denying almost all the successes and achievements of the previous government, often observed in other post-Socialist countries as well (Gajdushek, 2015), the new government presented its own plan of reforms, including that the system of public administration. An ambitious part of the reform plan is the reform of the civil service with an aim of the creation of a career-based system, based on professionalism, integrity and transparency (see the Annual Report of the Georgian Civil Service Bureau 2013/2014).

Attracting people with the right preparation and values is probably the basic and very first goal of the public sector. Soft skills, education in the relevant field and "fitness of character," as Abraham Lincoln once put it, are criteria that open the doors of the civil service to the willing. However, the everyday reality of many post-Soviet republics is quite different, where networks and kinship are of much more importance.

'Transparency International--Georgia' closely monitored the recruitment policy of the Georgian Dream government during the first months in power. In its report, TI stated that "after the parliamentary elections in 2012, a total of at least 5,149 employees have been dismissed from public institutions (ministries and their subordinate legal entities of public law, municipalities, boards and councils), 2,330 (45%) of which have resigned by submitting their own application, which raises the question whether public employees did not voluntarily leave their positions. From 6,557 of newly hired/appointed public service employees, only 257 (4%) went through a competitive hiring process."

While numbers demonstrate that the new government did not conduct large-scale bureaucratic cleansing, the recruitment practice shows that, in most cases the government chooses to avoid the procedure of an open competition, which raises concerns about possible nepotisms and corruption in the civil service.

Three main approaches toward current human resources management in civil service are described in literature (Barabashev, Prokofiev, 2014):

1. Recruitment and promotions based on the principles of professional competences. The professional-competences approach is connected with development of functional understanding of competencies, professional standards, elaboration of competency-oriented training programs etc. Developing professional standards applicable for most positions in civil service makes this approach easy to implement. Though, in the post-Soviet countries, standards are usually not clearly defined, or non-existent.

2. Recruitment of personnel and staff on the basis of evaluation of their professional motivation and its relevance to the needs of organization. The benefits of attracting individuals with a high-level public service motivation are widely discussed over decades (Perry, Hondeghem, Wise, 2010). Professional motivation assessment involves evaluation of motivation regarding a particular position, as well as evaluation of the professional development potential. Oftentimes, missions of the organizations are employed now as a prospective to evaluate the motivation of individuals (Wright, 2007).

3. Recruitment of personnel and staff management on the basis of the principles "to be part of the team" (team membership, affiliation). Loyalty to the leaders and the team are more valued in this (personal-relations) approach, in comparison to qualification and motivation. This approach is said to be popular in civil service in the post-Soviet countries (Barabashev, Prokofiev, 2014).

The purpose of this article is to examine the character of recent developments in the recruitment process of the Georgian civil service in light of the wave of dismissals after the 2012 parliamentary elections. By collecting and analysing the results of competitions for vacant positions conducted by the institutions of the central government of Georgia, our research aimed at studying the selection process and identifying preferred approaches at Georgian state institutions on the example of vacant positions soon after parliamentary elections and change of government in 2012. The aim was to answer several questions: Is there is a preferred approach in the human resource management in Georgian civil service? How transparent and fair are selection procedures for future civil servants? What are the characteristic weaknesses of the procedures, and what are their causes?

In order to clarify the findings of the conducted survey, the article is structured as follows: Firstly, a short overview of the widespread characteristics inherited from the Soviet period illustrates the challenge faced by the state. Secondly, reforms implemented after the Rose revolution will be discussed, since most changes in the civil service system took place in that period. Thirdly, the current reform effort of the government will be briefly discussed in order to explain the context of the research questions. Finally, the article discusses results of the survey conducted.

The Soviet legacy of a red tape bureaucracy

Reforming the civil service has remained one of the hardest challenges of the Georgian independent republic since the downfall of the Soviet Union. Granting public employees freedom from political pressure and preparing a new generation of public servants turned out to be a task that none of the governments of the independent Georgian state could achieve. The Soviet legacy of corrupt and politically independent state bureaucracy is typical for all post-Soviet or even post-socialist states (Beblavy, 2002).

The Soviet legacy is a considerable burden for civil service reform in the South Caucasus in general. Old habits and forms of communication are not consistent with democratic values. Several aspects of the Soviet civil service that are most apparent include the following: "Employees being responsive to political pressure and vulnerable as individuals"--a common characteristic for all Soviet republics, which is still widespread; "the bureaucracy as a whole has very little political accountability toward the people" overcoming this through bringing the public administration closer to the citizens, applying e-government tools and creating more transparency is still a reason for international donors and local NGOs to spend considerable time and financial resources; "public administration as a whole lacked the skills and information needed to participate in policymaking in a new world of market democracy"--a lack of skills and knowledge of the civil service remains a problem even after salaries were raised, which attracted more talented and better educated staff; "due to the state control of all organizations, a lack of public ethos as the distinction between civil service and other government employees was blurred"--considering civil service as a way of personal enrichment rather than "serving the country"--typical for non-democratic systems with patrimonial civil services, can still be observed in many post-Soviet republics (Beblavy, 2002).

To add to this list, Georgia was considered to be one of the most corrupt republics of the Soviet Union (Karklins, 2005). The Caucasus's kinship networks were known to historians and ethnographers as the dominant social structure existent in the region well before the inclusion of the Transcaucasus into the Russian Empire. (Alyiev, 2014). These bonds were believed to be unbreakable, and have often been attributed to the "local culture," which cannot be changed by outside pressure. Therefore, the reform of civil service here implies, together with other components, a serious reshuffle of human resources. Hardly anything changed in Georgia during the 1990s. On the contrary, the state administration has become a major clan, with some internal rivalries and disagreements (Chiaberashvili, Tevzadze, 2005). The Law on Public Service, adopted in 1997, was very general, and did not set clear frames and rules; together with the law on "corruption and conflict of interest," it was supposed to make the public service responsive and accountable but, in reality, proved to be far from the democratic principles of administration.

First efforts to reform the civil service

After the Rose Revolution, the reform of the public sector was identified as one of the main priorities, in order to convince people that the revolution brought quick and tangible changes to the country. Many of the post-revolutionary reforms were praised as successful by the world community and are currently being replicated in the Ukraine. The World Bank even published in 2012 several cases studies of some main Georgian reforms--"Fighting corruption in Public Service: Chronicling Georgia's Reforms." This volume describes eight fields reformed with a positive outcome, including patrol police, customs service, education, municipal services, public and civil registries. These cases have truly become a blueprint for reforms for many developing countries. Considerable effort of the government was spent on human resources management issues, such as firing a large number of employees involved in petty corruption (for example, traffic police), and prosecuting middle and high level civil servants involved in middle level or even political corruption.

"The importance of Georgian kinship networks in gaining access to formal institutions and in solving problems have been described by experts as steadily decreasing: often due to effectiveness of institutional reforms implemented under Mikheil Saakashvili. For instance, if a decade ago to obtain many goods and services one had to depend on personal networks, after the reforms the importance of informal connections decreased" (Alyiev, 2014).

The new government launched a set of aggressive, and (according to some critics) unprepared actions, aimed at putting the state in the service of the people. The vision of the young and somewhat naive new government was based on a strategy not to reform the public service, but to build from scratch. Limited bureaucracy and simplified procedures were at the core of the approach (Princeton University Case, 2011). Driven by and sympathizing with the ideas of the NPM, many ministries developed their own strategies that brought them increased transparency and efficiency, though, together with these "islands of success," there were institutions seriously lagging behind. The "Running

Government like a Business" approach (Box, 1999), inclusion of the private sector in providing services and the principle of "One-Window" in providing services, brought the state closer to the citizens and increased their trust in state institutions.

At that time, the discussion on the two main models of civil service, career-based civil service and contractual employment already created the first tensions within the political elite. Proponents of the career-based model pointed to the necessity of retaining promising professionals by the means of strong guarantees, while the opponents of the model, favouring the contractual model, stressed the danger of sliding back to corruption, cronyism and nepotism. The contractual model, backed by an influential figure in the government, K. Bendukidze, was considered to grant the framework necessary for implementing quick and painful reforms, essential for the survival of the failing Georgian state (Princeton University Case, 2011). Finally, the new government decided on a NeoWeberian model, where "the professionalization of the civil service means that the civil servant is not just an expert in his own speciality, but at the same time a manager" who works at the needs of citizens and for the public interest (Gal, 2015).

As a result of this pragmatic approach, "the reform of Georgia's public sector was neither systematic nor comprehensive, and centrally coordinated civil service reform never occurred" (Princeton University Case, 2011). The anti-corruption efforts that often lay at the core of the Georgian reforms managed to curtail the huge appetite of local bureaucrats and score the country impressive progress in worldwide rankings (see, for example, the TI corruption perception index), but failed to address the challenge of reforming the civil service, at least at the basic level, which would create legislative guarantees for civil servants to protect them from political repressions or acts of nepotism.

Thus, even after the "Rose Revolution," on the wave of aggressive and partially successful reforms in a variety of areas, the civil service demonstrated a tendency of being resistant to change and too complex to become subject to comprehensive and meaningful transformation. As a result, even today, the public service in Georgia demonstrates characteristics typical of the traditional 'spoils system," when the "spoils belong to the victor"; after the elections, jobs in the public service still serve as a means of reward for the loyal servants of the victorious party (Katsamunska, 2012).

A recent research study of the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs has demonstrated that the civil service is still experiencing problems in human resource management, problems which are typical for a system that lacks a set of clear and rational rules and procedures: nepotism, blurry entrance procedures, a lack of qualified staff, the absence of regular and meaningful opportunities or training and professional development, the absence of criteria and a system of performance measurement, and a lack of clear procedures of promotion etc. (Ghonghadze, Dolidze 2014).

A new beginning? The new law and the public service reform

The autumn of 2012 marked an important date for Georgia because, for the first time in the history of this young state, the government was changed in a peaceful way: the ruling party, the "United National Movement," lost the parliamentary elections to the "Georgian Dream" coalition. One of the major promises of this new government was to free the civil service from political influence and to build a modern, "European style" civil service. After more than two years of deliberation, planning and consultations with various actors and stakeholders, the government announced in the beginning of 2015 that it was ready to launch the reform. Considering that the country was not in a very healthy economic situation, serious budget cuts and a record of reforms with dubious results, the government made a rather daring step. Sceptics also note the time-frame of the reform: it is hard to believe that, shortly before the upcoming elections in the autumn of 2016, the government would free the civil servants from political pressure and, thus, would rely on the "administrative resources" widely employed by all Georgian governments during elections.

Unlike the UNM, which needed to rebuild public institutions and to create a modern and corruption-free bureaucracy, the "Georgian Dream" inherited an incomparably efficient system that did not require immediate intervention. As noted, reforms conducted in 2003-2012 had been positively assessed by various authoritative international organizations, and Georgia had been positioning itself as the best reformer country in Eastern Europe and the Post-Soviet region. In 2012, for the first time ever, a newly elected government in Georgia had to address more or less efficiently functioning public institutions. Thus, the challenge was to ensure the stability of the bureaucracy, while performing leadership changes at ministries or governmental agencies.

The government of Georgia has scheduled the enactment of the new law on the civil service for January 1, 2017. The new legislation aims to 1) improve the procedures for recruitment and career development, 2) establish principles of political neutrality and the merit-based promotion of civil servants, 3) determine the hierarchy of positions at public institutions, and 4) develop a clear system of remuneration.

The new law on public service offers several important amendments to the current system. First, the system will become more centralized, and the Civil Service Bureau, an institution created in 2004, with the mission to oversee the public administration reform, will assume much greater responsibility and power to control the public administration reform. A wide variety of the functions added to the Bureau's competencies include the oversight and control of the evaluation system of the employees in state institutions, certification and training, maintaining the electronic database of employees and coordination of the work of the human resources departments of state institutions etc. The scale of work to be performed by the Bureau, quite a weak institution today, causes us to assume that a significant growth of the institution is to be expected; otherwise, it will not be able to meet the deadline of January 1,2017, when the law will come into effect.

In addition to that, the establishment of ranks and classifications in the public service is also noteworthy. The new law establishes three types of employment possibilities in public administration: 1) Professional civil servants will be employed on life-long terms after a compulsory selection process based on exams. 2) A certain number of employees will hold positions on the basis of "administrative contract"; they will be appointed without the strict selection procedures necessary for civil servants and will only serve for a period defined by the contract. They will be primarily employees who will assist the political appointees (such as ministers), their team of advisors and managers, who might follow their leader from institution to institution. 3) Technical issues will be addressed by contracted employees. The contract will define the period of their employment and their duties. In this case, too, long and complicated selection procedures, as well as absurd requirements that are often observed in the current system, will not exist, and the head of the institution will have the capacity of making the final decision on their employment.

Political activity of the civil servants, disciplinary measures, training and qualification procedures are a few other issues described by the law which must ensure enactment of the career-based, professional civil service and modern type of public administration in Georgia.

Adoption of the new regulations will finalize the long process of public administration reform begun in 2013, the year after the Georgian Dream (GD) had replaced the United National Movement (UNM). Although the reform corresponds to the association agreement with the EU signed in 2014,6 it is important to understand not only how the bureaucracy will function after the reform, but also in what capacity will the state begin the implementation of standards and approaches envisaged by the new law. In that regard, it is worth looking at the analysis of recruitment policy pursued by the GD coalition during its first year in power, as it reveals a tendency and practice that may affect the ultimate goals of civil service reform.

Methodology: Data collection and study results

For the purpose of our study, we sent freedom of information (FOI) requests to 29 public entities (ministries and agencies under their supervision). Our requests covered a period from October 25, 2012 to January 1, 2014. Of 29, 22 FOI requests were fully satisfied. Within the query, we sent documents (in an Excel format) with a list of vacancies and the possible results of completed competitions. We obtained the results of competitions conducted on 4,185 vacancies, 10% of which ended with no candidates selected for the vacant positions.

As shown in the charts (See Annex 2), in some organizations, 98% of competitions ended with the selection of those employees who had been working in the same positions before the contest. Overall, the results of the study are as follows: 1) A total of 71% of competitions ended with the re-appointment of the acting employees; 2) A total of 6% of the employees moved from one position to another within the same organizations; and 3) Only 23% of candidates were selected from applicants previously not employed by the employer.

As our study shows, nearly 71% of all competitions were finalized with selection of the employees who worked at the same positions before the contests. Based on the research results, we identified "open" and "closed" organizations. Here are the most remarkable cases: the Public Service Development Agency hired new cadres in 61% of the competitions, while the Revenue Service of Georgia kept and re-appointed acting employees in 92% of the competitions.

It should be noted that although the high rate of re-appointment of acting employees looks dubious, we cannot evaluate the HR policy of the new government based only on competition results. The specificity of each public institution should be considered.

In the framework of our study, we also obtained quantitative data regarding appeals of the competition results, that is, participants who requested to reconsider their candidacy or revoke the competition results. Seven public institutions that conducted competitions for 2,532 vacancies during the investigated period received only 125 appeals. Out of 125 appeals, only 3 ended with quashing the competition results and appointing the appellant to the vacant position.


Based on data collected, we were able to draw several conclusions on the system as it exists today and make some assumptions of the threats that the existing practices may engender the planned reform of the civil service. 1

1. Drawbacks of the legislation

The civil service of Georgia is regulated by a very vague law that was adopted in 1997 and, by 2013, had already contained over 70 fragmental amendments that were designated to accomplish predominantly the goals of ruling parties. There was not a uniform recruitment procedure until 2011, when the Civil Service Bureau (CSB), an institution responsible for the coordination of the bureaucratic apparatus of Georgia, was empowered to begin progressive centralization of the recruitment process by introducing the e-portal "," which became the only source for sending and receiving applications for vacancies in the public service. Moreover, vacancy announcements were also standardized, requiring public institutions to indicate qualification criteria, job description, amount of salary and other details.

Although all the ministries and governmental agencies were obliged to publish job announcements on the CSB-managed portal, the HR management system, including the recruitment procedures, remained largely decentralized. Nothing changed in July 2012 when the parliament passed another amendment to the "law on civil service" and determined that open competitions would be mandatory to fill the vacant positions at public institutions. Still, each organization was independently making decisions on the forms and phases of competitions as well as on composition of competition commissions (the collective bodies to organize the recruitment process).

In parallel to the introduction of mandatory competition, the legislation left the possibility to avoid this time-consuming procedure and recruit some employees for 3month terms. The law does not specify for what purposes an employee might be appointed bypassing the procedure of competition. Presumably, recruitment on a noncompetitive basis was designed for extraordinary situations, when a public organization has an urgent need to invite a specialist to accomplish particular work. However, such an explanation looks unconvincing given that, in 71% of cases, the competitions organized in the period of October 25, 2012--January 1, 2014 were won by the acting employees holding the same positions as before the contests.

Another disadvantage of the legislation is the absence of a mechanism for conducting an internal competition among the employees of a particular organization. A public institution cannot offer a place to an experienced long-serving employee. Instead, it has to announce an open competition attracting hundreds or even thousands of applications from any interested persons that meet the minimum standards. In addition to this, as the practice shows, the mechanism of promotion has been unused. The "law on civil service" explicitly states: "An official may be recommended for promotion if he/she has been recruited by competition and has held the position for at least one year." Since competitions became mandatory only in 2012, the vast majority of employees had been appointed without competition. Therefore, they could not have been promoted even if they had deserved it. Manipulating by unclear norms of legislation, public institutions often apply the procedure of an open competition with only one purpose--to ensure the promotion of a particular employee to a higher position. No wonder that many vacancy competitions end with predetermined results. Moreover, HR units must organize an open competition even for such a technical position as a driver or cleaning person.

For a long time, the recruitment and promotion procedures had often been negatively affected by vague regulations of selection commissions. Public institutions, enjoying absolute discretion, had been able to form the commissions from those people not having sufficient knowledge and skills, or simply, from biased people tending to make decisions in favour of particular candidates. Many employers have avoided giving written tests, empowering commission members with a greater capacity of deciding whether the candidate meets the requirements. Only in June 2014 did the government of Georgia issue a decree that limited public institutions' discretion to determine the possible composition of commissions and equipped the Civil Service Bureau with control mechanisms to ensure objectivity and transparency of the recruitment process. According to that decree, selection commissions are to be composed of independent specialists and members of labour unions. The commissions became accountable before the CSB.

2. Qualification requirements as an instrument of discrimination

Selection commissions, established under the absolute discretion of public institutions, are not the only instrument that have been employed to legitimize the decision to appoint the employees who were unofficially selected prior to the contests. Qualification requirements were another powerful tool that helped public institutions to limit the number of applicants, not allowing many highly qualified professionals to participate in the competitions.

While the information on commissions' members is not publicly available, the qualification requirements, as a mandatory part of any vacancy announcement, are easily accessible on the recruitment portal HR.Gov.Ge. We decided to examine some vacancy announcements to demonstrate how the qualification requirements are utilized to minimize and even exclude competition between the best possible candidates.

The job announcement on the position of the Director of the PR Department of the Georgian National Energy and Water Supply Regulatory Commission (GNERC) may serve as evidence of the accuracy of our hypothesis. We would like to draw your attention to the following requirements set for applicants:

* A candidate must have at least 5 years of experience in the fields of energy or water supply, including 4 years in a managerial position;

* A candidate may be a journalist or a specialist in foreign languages;

Public Relations are a universal discipline. Therefore, a PR professional can make a career in any sphere--from agriculture or energy to healthcare or entertainment. As a rule, communications specialists acquire industry-specific knowledge during the practice. PR professionals may work at a financial institution or insurance company and then move to the civil service or to an NGO. Such a career path only strengthens one's professional value. Therefore, experience in the energy or water supply as an obligatory condition looks very dubious while excluding strong candidates with more diversified professional backgrounds and giving unjustified preference to those applicants that could have been working nowhere other than in the energy or water supply spheres. Accordingly, the GNERC's requirement in terms of professional experience should have been a desirable, rather than a mandatory condition.

Furthermore, another requirement regarding the education of applicants is also suspicious. While journalism could have been considered as an adjacent discipline to Public Relations, it is unclear why the GNERC enabled specialists in foreign languages to participate in the competition. It is doubtful that a degree in foreign languages would provide one with knowledge in PR or in any other communications discipline.

The GNERC's announcement clearly illustrates that professional and educational requirements can be easily manipulated to fit the profile of the acting bureaucrat already employed in the vacant position. Such an approach, with a high probability, has been a widespread practice in the civil service of Georgia.

3. Administration of the recruitment process: predetermined results

Along with the competition results, some administrative peculiarities of the recruitment process could also be considered indirect proof that announced contests just imitate but do not actually ensure fairness and transparency of the selection process.

Looking at the dynamics of job announcements, we discovered that some public institutions simultaneously announce hundreds of vacancies, which raised doubts regarding capacity of the HR units to handle such workloads.

Let us take the Revenue Service of Georgia, which turned out to be the most closed institution to professionals with no previous connection to the institution. The Revenue Service announced competitions for 740 vacancies with deadlines on December 12-15, 2013. In that period, the organization received 3,786 applications. Obviously, it would be very hard to administer all the competitions in such a short period. The organization needed to create selection commissions, to examine the received files, invite applicants to interviews or organize other procedures. It is nearly impossible to accomplish these tasks so that each applicant would feel that she or he is treated with respect and is being afforded equal rules and opportunities.

Without a doubt, competitions with predetermined results prove their unfairness not only by the selection of inappropriate candidates, but also by their administrative procedures which, due to the large number of received applications, could not be accomplished in an accurate manner.

4. Closed spheres

When discussing the results of competitions, we identified the most closed organizations that refused more frequently to hire professionals from outside the organizations and preferred to maintain old cadres who had been already selected by bypassing the competition. However, the competition results could be interpreted not only by organization profiles, but also by spheres.

During the study, we focused on vacancies in the field of Public Relations and investigated the results of competitions conducted for vacancies in PR departments of various public institutions. According to our data, of 76 vacancies at 11 various institutions, 83% were filled by acting employees who served in the same positions before the contests. Thus, PR could be considered one of the most closed spheres in terms of accessibility of jobs for professionals from outside the employing organization (See Annex 1).

However, there is an objective reason for the high rate of predetermined competitions for Public Relations vacancies. As a rule, heads of PR units are in close coordination with the ministers and are members of their political teams. Clearly, any minister wants to entrust his or her own reputation to a reliable and loyal professional who will defend the minister's position before the press or other organizations. However, the legislation allows appointing such a professional bypassing the competition only for three months. After that time, the vacant position should be filled with an employee selected competitively. Therefore, the ministries and other governmental institutions must comply with the formalities and organize competitions that end with predetermined results.

We did not research any other spheres, but it is very likely that the same trends could be observed in other fields as well.


Reforming the civil service and ensuring a fair and transparent process of recruitment is a challenging task for a young democracy with weak state institutions. At the same time, it is a necessary condition for building efficient and reliable public administration system.

As the results of this research show, the current methods of human resources management in Georgian public sector raise a lot of questions. Our research has identified several drawbacks typical for the current practices: (1) Drawbacks of the legislation allow public institutions to conduct formal competitions. (2) Qualification requirements are often used to discourage potential candidates from applying and keep the number of applications low, allowing the commissions to avoid fair competition. (3) Competitions are often formal, and the speed of the selection procedures as well as the final decisions speak for the predetermined results. (4) There are the so called "closed spheres" that are unavailable for "outsiders," in other words, for those whose loyalty to the leaders is not proven.

As a consequence, the proportion of reappointments of acting employees as the result of competitions in Georgian state institutions in the period studied is higher than 50 % and almost equals 100 % in some organizations (with 99 % being the highest number and 62 % the lowest. See Annex 1). This was the case in the majority of state organization included in the survey. Therefore, we concluded that the current trend of the human resources management demonstrates a tendency of recruiting personnel based on the principle of team affiliation and loyalty to the group/leader in power.

Widespread in the post-Soviet countries, this approach might pose a special challenge in the Georgian context. The negative legacy of Soviet corrupt practices in human resource management, accompanied with the culture of nepotism and cronyism characteristic for the South Caucasus republics, presents a serious obstacle for the establishment of fair and unbiased civil service. Despite some reform efforts, absence of formalized criteria for career success and the importance of informal relations in the Georgian civil service are widely observed and described by local researchers (Charkviani, 2013). An additional concern is raised since the new law on civil service, planned to step in force in 2017, implies granting civil servants life-long employment guarantees; transparent recruitment criteria and procedures become therefore even more crucial. The conducted research has demonstrated that the recruitment practices show few signs of improvement in the period after 2012 elections, and often carry apparent signs of the spoils system.

Taking into account the lack of qualified human resources in the country, it is probably normal that the public sector cannot solely rely on selection based on competences. Even though the selection of candidates is based on their loyalty to the team, this puts in the long run the whole public sector in danger. Selection based on motivation, however, is an efficient approach to find professionals who will benefit the sector and their employers. Training programs can ensure professional development of the employees, while the personnel selected on the basis of team affiliation and loyalty basis will lack motivation for professional development, and will not be able to perform their duties properly.


1. "Open" and "Closed" Organizations
The proportion of reappointment of acting employees
as the result of competition

Ministry of Economy and Sustainable                   99%
Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs                   98%
Revenue Service                                       92%
Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Protection       91%
Ministry of Energy                                    91%
Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from         87%
the Occupied Territories, Accommodation
and Refugees
Ministry of Environment and Natural                   82%
Resources Protection
Ministry of Education and Science                     72%
Ministry of Justice                                   64%
Public Service Hall                                   63%
National Archives of Georgia                          63%
Ministry of Infrastructure and Regional Development   62%

Source: Data collected through FOI requests to 29 public entities

The proportion of employees hired from outside of the organization as
the result of competition

Ministry of Agriculture             66%
Legislative Herald of Georgia       63%
Public Service Development Agency   61%
Ministry of Foreign Affairs         61%
National Bureau of Enforcement      49%
National Public Registry Agency     46%
Training Center of Justice          44%
Civil Service Bureau                40%

Source: Data collected through FOI requests to 29 public entities

2. Results of competitions on public service vacancies in 2013-2014
2. Results of competitions on public service vacancies in 2013-2014

No    Public Institution                   Number of       Number of
                                           vacant          received
                                           positions       applica-

1     Ministry of Agriculture              389             10718
                                             results (%)
2     Civil Service Bureau                 12              3426
                                             results (%)
3     Ministry of Economics and            182             19247
      Sustainable Development              Competition
                                             results (%)
4     Ministry of Energy                   28              2338
                                             results (%)
5     Ministry of Environment and          145             6324
      Natural Resources Protection         Competition
                                             results (%)
6     Ministry of Labour, Health and       217             4238
      Social Affairs                       Competition
                                             results (%)
7     Ministry of Internally Displaced     86              1889
      Persons from the Occupied
      Accommodation and Refugees           Competition
                                             results (%)
8     Ministry of Regional                 110             8027
      Development and Infrastructure       Competition
                                             results (%)
9                                          19              2325
                                             results (%)
10    Ministry of Sport and Youth          50              1645
      Affairs                              Competition
                                             results (%)
11    Ministry of Education and Science    294             17184
                                             results (%)
12    Ministry of Justice                  163             20365
                                             results (%)
13    National Achieves of Georgia         83              9061
                                             results (%)
14    Data Exchange Agency                 48              2409
                                             results (%)
15    Legislative Herald of Georgia        9               450
                                             results (%)
16    Notary Chamber of Georgia            1               408
                                             results (%)
17    Public Service Hall                  622             41522
                                             results (%)
18    Public Service Development           420             55959
      Agency                               Competition
                                             results (%)
19    National Agency of Public            25              7767
      Registry                             Competition
                                             results (%)
20    National Bureau of Enforcement       46              4255
                                             results (%)
21    Training Center of Justice           23              3420
                                             results (%)
22    Revenue Service of Georgia           1332            13811
                                             results (%)
Total                                      4304            236788
Competition results (%), in total

No    Number of      Number of      Number of      Number of
      the selected   the            the            the
      candidates,    selected       selected       selected
      who, before    candidates,    candidates,    candidates,
      the            who, before    who, before    who, before
      competition,   the            the            the
      were           competition,   competition,   competition,
      employed       were           were           had no
      in the same    employed in    employed in    professional
      organization   the same       the same       connection
      but worked     organization   organization   with the
      in other       as             and were       organization
      positions      freelancers    holding the

1     6              5              87             191
      2              2              30             66

2     4                             2              4
      40             0              20             40

3     0              0              159            2
      0              0              99             1

4     4              0              21             2
      15             0              78             7

5     4              1              93             16
      4              1              82             14

6     3              2              128            8
      2              1              91             6

7     1              4              73             6

      1              5              87             7

8     11             0              57             24
      12             0              62             26

9     0              0              7              11
      0              0              39             61

10    0              0              48             1
      0              0              98             2

11    5              0              163            58
      2              0              72             26

12    11                            81             35
      9              0              64             28

13    6                             43             19
      9              0              63             28

14    7                             8              2
      41             0              47             12

15    0                             3              5
      0              0              38             63

16    0                             0              1
      0              0              0              100

17    108                           377            110
      18             0              63             18

18    17                            143            248
      4              0              35             61

19    5                             2              6
      38             0              15             46

20    8                             11             18
      22             0              30             49

21    0                             5              4
      0              0              56             44

22    14             0              1166           86
      1              0              92             7

Total 214            12             2677           857
Compet6              0              71             23

No    Number of

1     22

2     2

3     3

4     1

5     29

6     53

7     3

8     18

9     1

10    1

11    63

12    36

13    15

14    31

15    0

16    0

17    17

18    27

19    14

20    9

21    14

22    66

Total 425
Competition results (%), in total

Source: Data collected through FOI requests to 29 public entities


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Archil Abashidze, (1) Giorgi Selimashvili (2)

(1) Archil Abashidze is a lecturer and PhD candidate at Ilia State University. Email: archil

(2) Giorgi Selimashvili is a graduate of the Master of Public Administration program at Ilia State University.

(3) President E. Shevardnadze was forced to resign after the peaceful protests triggered by flawed parliamentary elections in November 2003. The Revolution has its name from the fact that the young, pro-western opposition leaders, who led the protests, carried roses when the protesters stormed the Parliament building in order to interrupt the session.

(4) For several years after "the Rose Revolution," the World Bank recognized Georgia among "the top reformers" worldwide. See more on, or 236175~piPK:437394~theSitePK:73154.00.html

(5) See more on this in the paper by Deputy Minister of Justice. A. Baramidze:

(6) The Agreement doesn't specify detailed steps to be undertaken by the Georgian government, though it requires that "the parties shall cooperate ... on further pursuing the public administration reform and on building an accountable, efficient, effective, transparent and professional civil service" (Article 4, ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States, of the one part, and Georgia, of the other part).
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Author:Abashidze, Archil; Selimashvili, Giorgi
Publication:Romanian Journal of Political Science
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Date:Jan 1, 2015
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