A group of business, professional, academic and nonprofits have come together under the “Talento Pro” citizen initiative, which seeks to clean up and elevate the selection and recruitment process of officials to occupy positions in the island’s main government agencies.
The group called on the gubernatorial candidates for the upcoming November elections to discuss the methods they will apply to guarantee compliance with the criteria of sound administration.
“Over the past decades, the island has experienced a marked deterioration in the quality of public service as a result of multiple appointments of officials who lack the experience, training, leadership and commitment that government management requires,” the group’s leaders said in a statement.
“This has resulted in the lack of efficient and quality services for citizens, in an unprecedented economic crisis that led to the bankruptcy of the government,” they said.
The initiative, unveiled five weeks before the general elections on Nov. 3, surfaces at a time when candidates have been nominated who don’t have the professional experience or training required to occupy core positions in public service.
Similarly, recent reports have revealed a rampant practice of nepotism in all government spheres by members of several political parties by naming relatives and friends who do not have the expertise or the merit for the positions, leading to deep discontent citizen who demands dramatic changes in this practice, the group said.
According alliance representatives, one of the main challenges that the winner in the general elections will have will be to put together a cabinet “with a team of people who are willing to serve the island well, have the expertise and the attributes to lead, administer and manage Puerto Rico effectively and with integrity, at the level of what the citizens expect and what the times require.”
They stressed that the pattern that has been applied for decades “has obviously not worked and needs to be changed as a first step to build a better Puerto Rico.”
The Talento Pro initiative has established a number of goals, including: making sound public administration, and the criteria outlined for it, a priority for candidates for governor in the next elections; Increasing the number of citizens with good administrative profiles, who are willing to serve the island within the public sector; Improving the satisfaction levels of the average citizen with the government services they receive; and, increasing citizen participation in the establishment of metrics and criteria that meet their expectations of a healthy public administration.
The alliance has also created a “Criteria Guide for a Good Public Administrator,” which they said should be considered for the recruitment and retention of executives and public officials who aspire to lead and serve Puerto Rico.
The alliance comprises a number of familiar trade groups, including: the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association; the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce; the Chamber of Marketing, Industry and Food Distribution (MIDA, in Spanish); the Economists Association; the United Retailers Association; nonprofit Espacios Abiertos; a Council of former Presidents of the Public Relations Professionals Association; and experts in different disciplines, namely Negrón Portillo and Yolanda Cordero, former directors of the University of Puerto Rico’s School of Public Administration and Professor and Sociologist César Rey.
After the elections, and at the start of the new administration, Talento Pro plans “to remain active as a vocal and vigilant alliance in its mission of raising the quality of the public administration in Puerto Rico to guarantee that the provision of services to the citizenship is based on efficiency, integrity, measurement of results and transparency according to the guidelines presented.”