Civil Administration Reform: Accord for a Firm and Lasting Peace

Agreement on the Strengthening of Civilian Power and the Role of the Armed Forces in Democratic Society (Mexico City, 19 September 1996)

F. Professionalization of civil servants

55. Article 136 of the Constitution stipulates that the right of Guatemalan citizens to seek public office must be guaranteed. However, only individuals with ability, honesty and integrity are eligible to do so.

Accordingly, pursuant to the Agreement on Social and Economic Aspects and Agrarian Situation, the Government shall accord priority to the following activities:

(a) Modernization of government services, including publication of personnel selection and classification procedures for all departments of the executive branch, and review of the staffing table to ensure that employees and officials meet the criteria of honesty and ability;

(b) Establishment of a career civil service;

(c) Promotion of the effective implementation of legislation on integrity and accountability;

(d) Strengthening and modernization of the Comptroller's Office;

(e) Promotion of criminal sanctions for acts of corruption and misappropriation of public funds.

Implementation History

1997

Minimum Implementation

The accord provided for the professionalization of civil servants in an attempt to modernize the government service, establish a career civil service, promote integrity and accountability, strengthen and modernize the comptroller’s office and sanctioning acts of corruption and the misappropriation of public funds. Nevertheless, no serious steps were taken to reform civil administration in 1997. Proposals for a new civil service act were past due without the Follow-up Commission's approval for rescheduling.1 Nevertheless, the government had secured the Private Participation in Infrastructure Technical Assistance Loan from the World Bank to prepare selected infrastructure sectors - ports, power, telecommunications, highways, and the postal service - for concession and privatization, within a sound legal and regulatory framework.2 The implementation of these programs was expected to modernize and improve the efficiency of government services. The project was expected to complete by 2000. 

  • 1. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/52/757), February 4, 1998.
  • 2. "Implementation Completion and Results Report (ICR)," World Bank Vol.1 of 1 (Report No: 25429), June 19, 2003.
1998

Minimum Implementation

The State continued modernizing, improving the implementation of social policy, and working to weed out corruption and inconsistencies.3 According to a report, the government was focusing on decentralizing government services, especially in the education and health sectors, and institutional restructuring of the ministries. It was reported that the Integrated Financial Administration and Monitoring System was in place, which was said to implement government’s social policy as well as strengthening of anti-corruption mechanisms. The judiciary was mostly ineffective and corrupt. Nevertheless, there were efforts to overhaul the judiciary system by enacting an act to establish the Defender’s office in criminal matters. The pace of reform, however, was very slow.4 The Commission on the Strengthening of the Justice System, submitted its report. 

  • 3. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/53/421), September 28, 1998.
  • 4. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/52/757), February 4, 1998.
1999

Minimum Implementation

Following the report from the Commission on the Strengthening of the Justice System, an ad hoc commission to implement the recommendation in the report, was established. The judiciary continued to implement its modernization plan but it was very slow.5 Other reforms initiatives also continued at a slower pace. 

  • 5. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/54/526), November 11, 1999.
2000

Intermediate Implementation

The Private Participation in Infrastructure Technical Assistance program, carried out by the World Bank, was completed and was said to improve efficiency and modernization in public service.

The network of local development councils was not living up to its intended purpose of engendering broad social participation in municipal and community projects. Despite reform measures enacted by the Executive Branch designed to foster local participation in the selection of leaders, gubernatorial candidates put forward by non-governmental members of development councils were largely sidelined.6

  • 6. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/55/175), July 26, 2000.
2001

Intermediate Implementation

The President of the Republic established the Presidential Commissioner for the Modernization and Decentralization of the State, which took over all decentralization efforts. Prior efforts were poorly coordinated and unevenly enacted.7

  • 7. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/55/973), June 1, 2001.
2002

Intermediate Implementation

The Government made significant improvements in the decentralization of civil administration. With the passage of three new laws, previously excluded segments of the population were drawn into local decision-making structures and the decisions of Departmental Development Councils were respected by the Government.8

  • 8. “United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/59/307), August 30, 2004.
2003

Intermediate Implementation

A 2003 external review of several civil service systems is generally not positive. It reported that the “recruitment conditions do not tally with the real capabilities of the candidates, the necessary guarantee mechanisms and procedures needed to avoid arbitrariness in the admission process have not been established, the selection instruments have not been adequately designed, and promotion practices do not match with previously systematized criteria."9

2004

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.