The recent discussions, heated and otherwise, over the EQPB budget issue and its Board had me thinking that perhaps government-appointed boards have outlived their usefulness. Perhaps, as part of the current administration’s objective to create more “efficient and effective” services to the people, it should review the role of boards in the government’s structure.
This is not to say that the people serving on these boards are bad people. These people were put on these boards as required by law, appointed by the president and approved by the Senate. Therefore, the issue is not the people serving on these boards, it’s the boards themselves, and the functions they serve.
There’s a joke I once heard: a man walks into a bar and calls out, “Chairman!” Everyone in the bar turns around.
That is to say: there are a lot of boards managing a number of government agencies in Palau. I don’t know where the concept of boards came from, but it seems that we have too many of them already.
Some of these boards include the Environmental Quality Protection Board (EQPB), Palau Public Land Authority Board of Trustees, Parole Board, Palau Water Safety Board, Foreign Investment Board, Palau Visitors Authority, Palau Public Utilities Corporation Board, Palau National Communications Corporation’s Board, Civil Service Pension Board, Social Security Administration Board, Health Fund Governing Board, Belau Submarine Cable Corporation Board, Palau Compact of Free Association Board of Trustees, Palau Community College Board of Trustees, Palau Community Action Agency Board, Palau Protected Areas Network Board, Palau Energy Agency Board, and I am sure I missed a few.
There are laws and regulations in place for all of the above-mentioned agencies and offices. Is another layer of management needed? Shouldn’t the laws and regulations in place ensure that the process is followed and is straightforward? Why is it assumed that the board represents the interest of the various aspects of the community? Isn’t the law meant to address everyone across all walks of life in our community? Must it still be interpreted and implemented at another level? Laws should be clear so everyone knows what is expected of them. Regulations to implement those laws should also be clear, and should not require a final interpretation.
A review should identify which boards should be kept and which should be removed. Perhaps delays and misunderstandings we have are due to too many hands in the pot. To deliver efficient and effective services requires a thorough review of the agencies we have and the need we have for boards. (By: L.N. Reklai)

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