More Quality and Performance in the Cabinet

Don’t we need the most capable, creative and diligent individuals at the top of the state – an optimal and diverse mixture of talents, movers and shakers? 

Select Ministers According to Competence

How can we optimise quality and performance at the highest political level?

The selection of ministers is similar to sausage making. Please spare me the details. An undignified haggling over the sweet honey pots and heroin of power. About a good salary, office, car, pension funded, and prestige.

Regional and gender proportions as well as fiddling are the order of the day, whereas expertise is secondary. Not the most qualified individual is elected, but the politician who has the best pieces on the political chessboard and fits into the game of power. Mostly those who, in addition, fit into the concept of leadership with a good smile and inconspicuously streamlined, eternally grateful for the great gift of promotion.

Yes, there are also some qualified ministers. But these exceptions confirm the rule. Must this go on forever?

With mediocre and pale ministers, the battle for the future cannot be won. They paralyze and weaken our democracies enormously. This is another Achilles’ heel of our democracies.

Why don’t we just try out new approaches?

A new minister ought to be selected with the participation of the committees and the parliament according to their best qualifications.

Legislative participation in filling high government positions is already constitutional practice in the United States and many other countries. Extensive hearings of nominated individuals are conducted in parliament.

The appointment of ministers and government officials could be handled according to the following laws and regulations: 

“The head of government submits the government factions and parliamentary committees a list of five possible candidates. All candidates are invited to extensive hearings and are extensively scrutinized regarding their qualification for the new position, including training, past achievements, creativity and proposals for the future. The faction then makes a recommendation for two professionally qualified persons, from which the head of government can choose the most suitable one. He or she must be confirmed by the parliament.”

Minister and Members of Parliament Paid According to Performance

Ministers, appointed civil servants and members of parliament are paid according to fixed allowance schemes. Does it always have to be this way? Does it even make sense today? Why don’t we try something new that suits their tasks? For example, performance-related remuneration. We should give more encouragement to ministers, political officials and parliamentarians than we have done so far by setting objective criteria for success.

Let us learn from the Rwandan example. Any minister failing to meet his or her previously set targets will have his or her salary cut. Those who do good work should earn considerably more. 

Politicians are (only) people, too, and should be motivated and rewarded accordingly. How does that work?

We take over the remuneration rules for directors of public companies. They always receive a moderate basic remuneration and a much higher performance-related annual bonus, which is determined by the Supervisory Board:

For each ministry, up to ten annual targets for the minister, his or her state secretaries and political officials are set out in the business plan, weighted in percentages and decided in the cabinet. Ambitious and not achievable without effort. These include all main goals in his or her department, as well as implementing creativity, planning for the future, digital networking, promoting young talent, the level of indebtedness or the optimal use of taxpayers’ money and evaluations by the Court of Auditors.

The minister and all political officials ought to receive a moderate basic salary. It is one third less than the present remuneration. Plus, an annual performance bonus amounting to a threefold annual salary.

In the first quarter of the following year, the Court of Auditors would review the success and report in April to the responsible head of government and parliamentary commit- tee. This makes performance more transparent. A final decision by the Court of Auditors on the amount of the bonus payment for the previous year would be made in May.

Compared to the high budget of a ministry, these bonus payments are not significant. They even save a lot of money in the end result through a better policy. Performance-related pay enormously motivates the ministry’s management creating greater transparency as well.

This new performance-related remuneration system for members of parliament, ministers and ministry officials would not only relieve private household budgets, but particularly all voters. Because the big carrots will certainly give these political decision-makers very big wings. It forces them to be more efficient, to cooperate on the issue with all political groups and to focus on speedy implementation. Variable salaries would mobilise undiscovered resources, which is evidenced in executive board compensation. Let’s just try it out and adjust the new system step by step. In any case, it would work much better than the current fixed remuneration. 


If you want to learn more about Mission Future you can find our 600 pages book with 200 concrete reform propsals here.