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.