The Senior Civil Service in Belgium
The Belgian senior civil service is in transition, with external pressures clearly pushing the government firmly towards a reform agenda and improving public confidence in the administrative system, in terms of democracy and accountability and of economy and efficiency. In addition, budgetary pressures have combined with political will to ensure that the operation of the administration complies with the new managerialist paradigm. This chapter gives an overview of the position of senior civil servants in the Belgian federal ministries (the federal civil service). It consists of three main sections: the first describes the coexistence of two opposing civil service models, a formal bureaucratic one and an informal politicized one, and assesses the implications of the clash between these models for the position (job definition, classification, and security; the career ladder; salaries; political appointments; and ministerial cabinets) and role conceptions of top civil servants; the second addresses the issue of representativeness of the senior civil service in terms of education, language, and gender; the third deals with the two major challenges to the Belgian senior civil service (external pressure and internal constraints) and the resulting structural reform agenda.
Keywords: Belgium, bureaucratic model, career ladder, civil service, civil service models, education, federal civil service, gender, job classification, job definition, job security, language, ministerial cabinets, political appointments, politicized model, reform, representativeness, role conceptions, salaries, senior civil service, top civil servants
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