Appointing public officials by sortition: Guest post from Paul Frijters

A friend of mine, Paul Frijters posted the post below on the group blog we share ClubTroppo. It raises an important issue for me which is the potential use of sortition to institutionalise political independence. I reproduce it for readers’ interest here, though there are over twenty comments on his post at ClubTroppo which may be of interest.

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Dear Troppodillians, lend me your critical eye. I ask you to consider the system of citizen-jury appointments I have in mind, and tell me how the vested interests would try to game it, ie why it would not work and whether the system can be improved. Bear with me as I describe what I have in mind.

Suppose that in 10 years time in Australia, there is a citizen-jury-system for appointments for the entire upper layer of the public sector. One jury, one top position. Politicians would still be in charge of policy and Budgets, but juries would appoint all the top people working in the public sector. The system would hold for all large entities receiving significant state funding:

  • Universities
  • large hospitals
  • heads of Government Departments
  • State Media
  • Arts Councils
  • Statistical Agencies
  • etc.

So every year, hundreds of top-positions would be decided upon by juries. Consider how this would go for, saying, the director of the ABC.

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