Cutting down the executive

Here is a list of all responsibilities the current Charter specifically assigns to a minister or cabinet-level official:

  • Coordinating executive activities
  • Liaising between the government and community
  • Protecting the Coalition
  • Coordinating government activities in the World Assembly
  • Provide assistance in drafting resolutions
  • Issuing WA voting recommendations
  • Supporting the roleplay community
  • Organizing regional cultural activities, events, and exchanges
  • Recruiting and integrating new players into the government and community
  • Maintaining public infrastructure such as dispatches and other guides
  • Setting unified presentation standards
  • Providing graphics to the government and citizens
  • Establishing the government’s foreign policy program
  • Communicating with allies
  • Coordinating foreign policy priorities with military actions
  • Initiating treaty negotiations
  • Maintaining standards for the creation and maintenance of consulates and embassies
  • Building military activity
  • Conducting military operations
  • Establishing an intelligence office
  • Addressing immediate and pressing issues created by ambiguity or holes in a particular law

Now, I’m glad everyone totally read through all of that. How much of it would you honestly say is of great importance to our governmental functions? How much of it have you actually felt the impact of? Maybe I’m in the minority here and this idea isn’t going to gain much traction, but if you ask me, a lot of that feels bloated and unnecessary.

At the root of the issue is that we love to add new responsibilities to our ministries, but it’s more difficult to admit when something isn’t feasible or when the interest in it no longer exists. That’s partly aggravated by the fact that — as I understand it — the Ministries of Engagement, Culture, and formerly Media were essentially split along the internal bureaucracy of the MoRA at the time of its dissolution. In effect, we took a snapshot of the things we considered necessary at one particular point in time, and codified them into law.

To add insult to injury, we’ve added other ‘responsibilities’ for ourselves that aren’t even mentioned in our laws. I previously shared a pretty long rant about how bloated the Ministry of Engagement has become. It’s worth noting that out of my complaints about having graphics, cards, and the wiki under the Ministry of Engagement, you’ll only find one of them in the list above. Everything else is self-imposed — and for what? Nothing’s changed since the last time I shared these complaints. Just because something is cool doesn’t mean it must be shoved into the portfolio of one of our ministries. And just because something is in some minister’s portfolio, officially or unofficially, doesn’t mean it’s magically going to get more active.

I think the Charter reflects a pattern across our ministries more generally. We think of ministries as fulfilling tasks, not goals. The Charter might lay out goals for different areas of the executive in some places, but it also leaves instructions on how to get there. What do I mean by instructions? I mean things like:

  • Build military activity in order to be more successful in military operations. (Wow, so insightful.)
  • Maintain dispatches to help integrate new players. (Yeah, no duh.)
  • Communicate with allies to improve our diplomatic standing and soft power. (Who would’ve guessed?)
  • Provide graphics to citizens to help integrate new players. (Um, what?)

Some of these are common sense; others are just unnecessary. All of them show why framing our executive in term of tasks rather than goals isn’t productive. It leaves us with lingering Cabinet responsibilities that are no longer relevant and a culture of keeping projects alive for the sake of keeping them alive. We lose sight of the bigger picture.

What if the Minister of Culture was just responsible for… culture? And the Minister of Engagement was just responsible for engagement? And so forth. Like, that’s it. The Charter would just say something like “The Minister of Culture will be responsible for promoting regional culture” and so forth. In doing so, we capture the actual goal of the Ministry of Culture, and leave more flexibility to actually adapt on how to get there.

This might intuitively seem too broad to summarize the work of an entire ministry, but I disagree. You don’t agree with a minister’s view on how to promote regional culture? You don’t think they’re doing their job properly (or at all)? Take up the issue on the campaign trail! Ask tough questions in the Assembly! Go ham! Being able to say, “you are legally on the hook for organizing cultural exchanges” doesn’t add that much. And the conversation that we should be having anyway is, “I believe cultural exchanges strengthen our regional culture because of so-and-so, and that is why I think you, as Minister of Culture, should be organizing more of them.”

Admittedly, our current ministry structure, or even just the names, might need some work. In general, though, I think we ought to consider establishing our ministries oriented around their goals, not around specific tasks.

I agree but I’d ask whether an additional/alternative option would also aid in solving this. Wouldn’t a more efficient solution to be both establishing ministries oriented around goals and completion of tasks?
Purely from logical deduction (which I don’t trust, so this is a question); Wouldn’t the solution be expanding the executive to include:
either more ministries responsible for specific things
or codifying ministries in a way that they must have more people employed within them responsible for specific things (with the ‘minister’ being the head of the entire operation)?
(I’ve tried making this as understandable as possible.)

What’s the point? A key reason why our ministries are struggling is because they have too many people responsible for too many things, and there’s no sene of flexibility about changing those things. Codifying specific tasks to be responsible for just aggravates that problem.

I think we can trust ministers to find the specific tasks that best align with their goals and the goals of the ministry. And if that doesn’t happen — we can hold them accountable!

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What are some of your thoughts on this in particular? The idea has been floated to abolish the Ministry of Engagement, and essentially restore the Ministry of Regional Affairs, but I’d be interested to see how it would be worded.

That presumes that all the tasks in the Charter should be done. Perhaps the first question should be whether all those tasks need to be done, or if a more straightforward executive would be better.

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I do think we’re over-prescriptive about the duties of the Cabinet. Ironically, for everybody except the Prime Minister.

There are a couple reasons for it, but I think the most impactful one was as you mentioned— that during debate for creating Engagement, Culture, and Media, it was all about “what would this ministry do?” And the answers were put into law.

It’s also partially cultural. We’ve wanted to set a baseline for how to judge success and worthiness of being re-elected. And on the flip side, when we’re allowed to initiate recalls.

What would the changes to the Charter look like?

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I think that merits a separate proposal, but the general principle is the same — for instance, if the goal of a Ministry of Regional Affairs as you envision it would be to promote regional activity, then the Charter should just say that the Ministry of Regional Affairs should promote regional activity, instead of listing out events, dispatches, and everything else we currently think is worth having.

It’s a rough draft, but I think it encapsulates the fundamental ideas here.

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I suspect some of us might feel this proposal isn’t self-sufficient on its own — perhaps it leaves some loose ends, perhaps it exposes a better way to structure our ministries, and so on. I think other proposals about the executive are necessary and I would welcome them, but I also think that’s what the reconciliation phase is for. This proposal isn’t perfect on its own, but if we agree that ministries should be defined around broader goals rather than more specific tasks, I think something like this would accomplish that.


I like this, but I think that instead of phrasing it as “cutting down” the executive it is more so - as Glen said - being less prescriptive in what we constitutionally require of our Ministries.

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Reading the draft made me understand the point a lot better. This is a more efficient solution IMO now, though I wouldn’t call it “cutting down”, it’s more “freeing” the executive, making it more flexible and giving room for new creative initiatives from cabinet members.

One of the biggest problems (and the reason we’re here) is that new creative initiatives by individual Ministers get wrapped into the Ministry’s portfolio as a whole.

If an initiative can’t be completed and operational within the term or if it’s unpopular (thus the initiator does not get reelected to complete it) then it’s really not the duty of their successor to complete it.
I believe TSP as a whole relies too much on precedence; in this case a Minister shouldn’t be expected to have the same ideas, aspirations, goals as their predecessor.

I think this proposal can address both of these? It frees ministers to explore new projects when they feel them to be necessary, but also frees ministers to cut more projects that are no longer necessary.

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I have no broad issues with the proposal, I think it’s a worthwhile restructuring. My big concern is just abolishing the Ministry of Engagement and folding its projects (but not legal responsibilities) back into a wider Regional Affairs revival.

I definitely think there is merit to breaking the MoE up. The integration and outreach portion of the ministry could be put back into the MoC, while the infrastructure could be part of a separate independent body (perhaps a committee???).

I can recall the days when I would ask individual members of the region to make graphics for me, or would ask people for my endo lists (which now is publicly accessible).

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We could roll this into another office much like OWL currently is.

A somewhat relevant thing regarding MoE. Back when the split happened, I recall we very much considered MoE’s job description in the Charter as somewhat of a temporary placeholder and the ministry itself as doing whatever culture and media didn’t do. Something more concrete regarding the job description would have been done later. That of course didn’t happen and MoE basically turned into the ministry of personal pet projects and anything that isn’t newspapers or events.

Does anyone have any thoughts or concerns with this wording/language?

I haven’t seen much opposition to these ideas as a concept (although please do speak up if I’ve gotten the wrong impression :stuck_out_tongue:), but before this goes to vote I do want to see how people are feeling about the language itself. I’m not sure how much of it will make it to final omnibus — in particular if we change up our ministries, go for an appointed cabinet, etc. — but it’s probably best to not count on that at this stage.

Your proposed bill goes beyond its scope. It removes the authority of the MoFA to make treaties from the Charter and also removes the intelligence office.

I felt it was implicitly covered under the Treaties Act already, which I feel is a better place to put a provision like that anyway. Making treaties is a common way to maintain our foreign policy, but it’s not the only way — it’s not as if a MoFA term with no treaties passed should always be considered unsuccessful.

If it’s really a concern, would this amendment to the Treaties Act address it?

(1) Upon introduction the receipt of a treaty by the Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Assembly, the Assembly will debate the proposed treaty for at least five days before any vote is held.

Can’t remove an intelligence office that doesn’t exist :stuck_out_tongue:

More generally speaking, I’m not sure what that clause really does. It gives the Minister of Defense the option to create an intelligence office, yes. Are we sure they wouldn’t have that power without that clause? And the Charter already establishes an Intelligence Coordinator who works with the Minister of Defense.

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This is something that should be in the Charter. More importantly, the Treaties Act does not have the explicit grant of authority to the MoFA that the treaties act does.