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Chapter 8: A Splendid Ruined Reform: The Creation and Destruction of a Civil Service in Argentina
8 A splendid ruined reform: the creation and destruction of a civil service in Argentina Agustín E. Ferraro Merely urging people in government to try harder and use more statecraft is unlikely to help. Hugh Heclo, A Government of Strangers 8.1 INTRODUCTION The fragmentary professionalization of public bureaucracies in Latin America and the modest success of civil service reforms in the last 20 years have been considered in a number of studies (see, for example, Evans 1979; Ames 1982; Geddes 1994; Weyland 1996; Maxfield 1997; Huber and McCarty 2001; Philip 2003; Eaton 2003). The present chapter studies Argentina’s federal bureaucracy, ten years after the civil service reform of 1991–2, which created a civil service career for the whole public sector. The reform had a Weberian character, that is to say, it was based on meritocratic recruitment, internal promotion, job tenure, and improved salaries for civil servants entering the system. About 30 000 positions in the federal administration were transferred to the new civil service career, and future appointments for these positions were opened to public competition. The nucleus of 30 000 civil service positions was to form the basis for the expansion of the system. Nevertheless, this number of civil service positions was significant from the beginning, considering that the country’s federal administration comprises about 120 000 employees. The new civil service system was given the name SINAPA (Sistema Nacional de la Profesión Administrativa). The study of Argentina’s federal bureaucracy presented here is based on informant interviews...
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