[2355.AP] Staff for Ministries

In the past, there has been the option for residents of The South Pacific to apply for and join ministries. This was a fun way for the community to get involved in the government, and a way for Ministers to gain a group of people who are actively interested in helping out with their agenda. It also opens up a path for greater government participation down the line; if I had never joined the Ministry of Culture as a staff member, I would not have been confident enough to join ProfessorHenn’s Cabinet as the Minister of On-Site Events, and now Minister of Culture.

With that in mind, I’d like to hear the community’s thoughts on bringing back staff.

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I disagree with the premise that having ministerial staff is a productive use of anyone’s time, but is there something that keeps you from having staff for your ministry?

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I have to handpick my staff. That means a smaller group of people, and it means people who may want to join won’t have the chance. With staff I’d be able to more closely help with any events that the staff wants to run, as ProfessorHenn did for me.

Generally, I don’t understand arguments against community participation (at least in this context)

If I may ask, why do you think it’d be unproductive?

You don’t though. There isn’t anything keeping you from setting up a “Ministry of X Staff Sign-Ups” topic and actively recruiting staff to work with you.

Because people end up doing very basic work that (1) doesn’t necessarily help them get involved beyond doing that work at someone else’s direction, and (2) doesn’t help the leadership focus on training future talent.

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I’d argue that the leadership’s effectiveness is ultimately up to the Minister themself. And, there’s infinite ways for us to implement staff, including the Minister approving applicants personally, the Minister picking some people as a “main group”, etc, although my preference would be the opportunity for anyone to sign up to be staff for a Ministry. After all, there’s nothing stopping the Minister from recommending that certain people apply.

And, basic work is also helpful to the Ministry, especially in larger projects. And, everyone has to start somewhere. I could make the arguement that legislators who only vote and don’t propose new legislation are “unproductive”, but that just wouldn’t stand up under close inspection.

I think there’s a time and place for a relatively small group of staffers with a clear area of work, but a focus on ‘staff’ like it’s some centerpiece of our government is counterproductive to an overall goal of involving people in our government. I have fond memories of struggling to get more than a few responses out of dozens of staffers — and that’s after I literally went around sending individual DMs to every staffer. I don’t think this is a matter of arguing for or against community participation; I have first-hand experience of just how little giving out ‘staffer’ titles left and right actually encourages participation.

Why can’t we promote opportunities for citizens to participate in projects in much the same way we used to promote opportunities for citizens to join ministries? We don’t gain anything from processing more applications and giving out more titles, we benefit from people participating in working on things that interest them… so why not actually advertise those things? That would enable anyone to sign up for the specific projects that interest them, without ministers having to deal with the overhead of managing their own applications and activity requirements and uninterested staffers.

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I like the idea of projects, and have considered them before, but I don’t think it’s something that can be applied evenly across the Ministries. To be fair though, maybe staff isn’t something that can be applied evenly across all the Ministries. I just don’t believe smaller groups do anything to improve participation either. As one of the “Regional Affairs Ministers”, and a person who has benefited from the opportunity to be a staffer, I think it’s be useful.

Going back to that project idea though, could that not still work with staffers? It might even be more efficient or streamlined that way, because everyone is in direct communication with each other.

I mean, yeah, pretty much. A minister can put out projects when they actually have projects to put out. A ministry that doesn’t have much for staffers to actually do day-to-day will probably discourage applicants by rejecting them (because not that many staffers are actually needed) or by accepting them and not having them do anything (because not that many staffers are actually needed).

Why do people have to be a staffer to be in communication with each other? For instance, I can go make a private message topic here on the forums, add in whichever groups or individuals I want, and it’s trivial to simply turn that private discussion into a public topic six months later for Sunshine Act purposes (like, it literally takes two clicks).

Having both staffers and projects is just another counterproductive layer of indirection. We should focus on encouraging people to work on projects, not encouraging people to be staffers — what’s the point of having staffers if they aren’t interested in working on anything? If there’s a project I’m interested in, why can’t I just tell the minister I’m interested? Why do I have to go apply for the ministry first? What if I’m not really interested in the other projects the minister has planned? I think people will benefit more from being able to work directly on projects than they would from being able to call themselves a ‘staffer,’ and if there’s someone who is genuinely interested in literally everything that a ministry does, it’s absolutely trivial for them to just tell the minister, “hey, count me in for all your future projects.”

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I think you're operating under an unrealistic view of what maintaining a staff means for both the ministry and the staffers. You will not have, no matter how hard you try, a scenario where people sign up and regularly contribute as if they were working a job because at the end of the day this is a game and running events isn't what people have in mind when they think "government simulation".

The only way I could see a staff working is if you have a set list of ministerial projects and each staffer is personally responsible for each of them, as opposed to the oft-used model of simply expecting people to “help where they are most interested”. That said, at that point you’re just hiring deputies or project managers, which goes to show that what matters more than just having a staff is having career civil servants whom you can tutor and help train as future successors.

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Sure, but handpicking staff doesn’t change that either. I just think it would be more helpful to have people who will be active and helping out, and then people who can do the smaller things, and maybe even get drawn in.

I think this is an important aspect of being a Minister, but demonstrating interest goes a long way. All of my staff are people who have shown commitment or interest in at least one aspect of TSP. In my opinion, having staff is an opportunity to demonstrate that interest.

The problem is that we keep removing opportunities for people to work on things. The closest thing we have to a staffer base like we used to have is the SPSF for MoD, but MoD is more like a military command than a Ministry

It’s also about how invested people are in the region. Knowing that you have a chance to help with the Ministries is a really cool concept. We used to have far more ways for the community to make a difference in the region, and most of them were stripped away. The Great Council removed the LC, and then dissolved itself. Staffing was removed. Running for Minister was removed. Some of those were for the best, but I do believe that we lost a lot too. Staffing at least is a fun and harmless way to have user participation.

The ways for folks to get involved in government changed, they didn’t necessarily get stripped away.

We could glean this at the outset, by including it in the wizard people use to create their first posts or by asking them why they joined NS/TSP there and striving to have that engaged conversation while they’re still highly interested in joining.

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How so? If you have project ideas as a minister, nothing is preventing you from making those opportunities available to people, staffer or not.

I definitely did not feel people were extremely invested in the region when barely a handful of staffers participated in a ministry-wide discussion…

Wait, what? I think the purpose of a constitutional convention is not usually to go on and on forever.

I’m not sure what ‘participation’ you envision with staffers that (a) aligns with the substantial lack of participation we had back when we still had the staffer system and (b) couldn’t be accomplished by letting people participate in things they want to participate in. Just having the title of ‘staffer’ isn’t participation. What kind of participation is exclusive to a staffer system?

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I mean, we removed a lot of ways for people to join, so much so that citizen/legislator is the only thing that comes to mind. I also don’t use the first post reasoning, since that doesn’t tell us as much as actual demonstrated interest throughout their time here.

I listed the examples in that post

What has changed? Should we just remove any and all staffing, including hand-picked?

Between the ability to join the Great Council, TSP’s long history, the lack if a recent Great Council, and it’s disolvement because no one could figure out what to do with it (if I remember correctly), I never once got a “temporary” vibe from it.

To use the classic saying, there’s nothing stopping people from doing it on their own.
There’s nothing encouraging them either.
Having staffers could be immensly useful. People with different levels of experience all interacting each each other. It could help with pacing (for example, with MoC you could coordinate with staffers to release smaller events and such in-between largwr events). Sign-ups naturally encourage larger groups, so Ministries that use them could be better optimized, with certain groups managing certain aspects. Archiving is also less of an issue now; staffers that stay on can work with the next Minister to continue parts of the agenda and explain anything that isn’t clearly explained

I just feel like a lot of ways for people to larticipate aren’t available, due to reasons of “lack of participation” or such.

I think we need to look at it with a LC perspective. It wasn’t supposed to be just a moderation team, but that’s what it became because that’s how it was portrayed. It honestly could be an issue of how we present staffing.

I just can’t get behind any arguement of staffing not being worth it, because the opportunity it gave me is something I’ll forever be grateful for

I’m not sure what ever gave you the impression that a constitutional convention was intended to be anything other than temporary? Its purpose was to rewrite the laws, and that purpose having been accomplished there was no reason for its continued existence. That much was made clear in both the Charter and the Great Council Convening Resolution.

I think we’re talking past each other because our experiences with the staffer system are apparently quite different from each other. If you’re personally grateful for staffing, that’s great! (And I don’t mean that sarcastically, though I know it probably reads that way online.) But improving our government as a whole requires us to consider more than just our own perspectives.

My experience with the staffer system was rife with expansive rosters of inactive staffers and set against the backdrop of a culture that emphasized titles and statuses more than participation. I stuck around for the projects to work on, not the staffer titles to earn. I joined ministries because I wanted to work on their policy areas, not because I wanted to be a staffer. Maybe that’s not your experience, but that was mine. If being a staffer was what helped you get more involved with our government — not the things you did as a staffer, but being a staffer in and of itself — then that’s great to hear. I’d remain skeptical it applies to everyone, because it’s so different from my own experience, but I suppose you could say the same for me.

At the end of the day, maybe there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. I genuinely don’t get what’s keeping you from having staff applications for your own ministry. I generally trust ministers to run their ministries the way they feel is best. That’s literally what they’re there to do. If having staff applications is what you feel is best for your ministry, go right ahead! But that doesn’t mean we (as in the Assembly) have to require every single ministry to accommodate and promote a staffer application system. Like I said, maybe there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, and maybe we need not try to impose one.

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IThe way you describe it here, it sounds like it was a second Assembly, passed ammendments to the Charter, and dissolved it. Could you clarify on what set the Great Council apart?

I think it’s because we joined, and ran, different Ministries. Like you said, each Ministry might be too differently optimized to make a one-size-fits-all solution. Even still, I think it’s important for Ministers to know that they can handpick and/or open applications for staff.

It’s easy to say “well, you could have done this”, but no so easy to actually do it. When you’re a new Minister, handpicked by the Prime Minister, and they recommended that you should pick a team to help you, your first thought will not be that you can open nominations.
Unfortunately, hindsight is 20-20, never in the moment

It’s described quite clearly in the Charter:

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