Sharp reactions to consultant's criticism of administrative practices in Parliament
Niinistö: new procedures to be introduced from next year
The Secretary-General of Parliament, Seppo Tiitinen, completely rejects criticism voiced by a consultant hired by the Finnish Parliament to evaluate the operations of how the activities of Parliament are administered. Tiitinen said to Helsingin Sanomat on Saturday that the report by the consultant bears "rather little" resemblance to the Parliament that he knows.
Helsingin Sanomat reported on Saturday on the report which concludes that the administration of Parliament is vague and inefficient.
Tiitinen pointed out that the published news items included only the negative aspects, and not the positive sides of the report. In his view, Members of Parliament as well as outside bodies gave "quite good marks" to the services of the Parliamentary administration.
"It seems that the only negative matter concerning the service was that at times there is a surplus of service."
The negative views of the operations of the Parliamentary Office are based on 14 internal interviews, which Tiitinen feels are mainly personal opinions and expressions of feeling on the part of the people in question.
Tiitinen does not see a particular need for changes in administrative procedure.
He noted that the there have been numerous changes over the decades. He listed several organisational reforms in the 1990s and the present decade.
Kari T. Ahonen, the head of the Parliament's Administrative Office, sees the matter somewhat differently. In a brief interview with the Finnish News Agency STT, Ahonen said that the findings did not come as a surprise, and that there is a clear need for development.
Speaker of Parliament Sauli Niinistö was cautious in his comments to Helsingin Sanomat. "Organisations that grow fast might fall behind".
He feels that the parts of Parliament which provide administrative services should not deviate in any way from the rational operations of other organisations. "The goal is that Parliament should be an exemplary apparatus."
The work of a study group comprising the Speaker of Parliament and civil servants concludes on Wednesday. As soon as possible after that, a broader group will be set up to prepare the reforms.
Speaker Niinistö says that the aim is to implement new procedures from the beginning of next year.
One of his aims was to set up a "firewall" between legislative work and administration. This would mean that the level of administrative services is to be defined in order to avert overkill. Nowadays a civil servant has no options when an MP makes a request.
The chairs of the three largest Parliamentary groups, Timo Kalli (Centre), Pekka Ravi (Nat. Coalition Party), and Tarja Filatov (SDP) had not yet seen the consultant's report, but all three felt that it was necessary to examine the issue.
Kalli himself made the initiative for examining administrative practices when spending on the 2006 centenary celebrations of the Finnish Parliament was discussed.
"The view has been brought out that there would be need for rationalisation", Kalli said on Saturday.
Parliament of Finland