Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Émilie Biland's essay on la fonction publique territoriale reviews the literature on the "local" and "regional" functionaries who were for a long time the poor relations in France's civil service but who are now presented as the avant-garde in civil service reform. Of course, when Brice Hortefeux says that "the FPT is the laboratory of public modernization," one's critical sensibilities are aroused. Not only are local and regional civil servants likely to be more subservient to their "employers," as they are called here--meaning not "the people" but the "elected officials" who hire them and promote them, often without the control of competitive examinations required at the national level--but they are also more likely to be influenced by powerful civil society players: local businesses and associations, for example. Is the result greater "responsiveness" and "engagement" or a less universalistic conception of public service? A brief introduction to a complex issue.