Bureaucracy is one of the most important factors restricting economic activity. In Poland, it is characterized mostly by a rising number of officials, ineffective administration and low digitalization levels. Both official statistics and results of domestic controls show the bureaucratization of Polish administration to be very high.
This is caused by a 13 percent increase in the number of public administration employees in the last six years – from 393 000 in 200 to 444 000 in 2014. Meanwhile, the number of employees in central administration, local governments, public safety and social security at the end of 2014 was 643 900, increasing by 43 00 compared to 2008. Assuming that the average monthly wage of an official in 2014 was 4514 PLN gross (calculation based on official GUS figures), the annual cost of the wages of new employees in administration was 2.345 bln PLN – which is a staggering sum. The picture is even more concerning in comparison to other EU states – in 2008-2013 the number of state officials increased by 7 percent. Only five countries had a higher result in this regard. It is also worth noting that in 18 countries employment in public administration either did not grow or was restricted.
Figure 1: Employment in public administration in Poland in 2008-2014
Source: Central Statistical Office of Poland
Figure 2: Employment dynamics in EU states in 2008-2013
Source: Own elaboration based on Eurofund data
The increased number of state officials does not contribute to an improvement in efficiency – quite the contrary. The report entitled “Adequacy and efficiency of internal control systems in selected government administration entities”, prepared by the Supreme Audit Office shows that ministries do not know how to check their won efficiency and increased bureaucracy causes delays and losses. The Office controlled the ministries of justice, finance, economy, agriculture, culture and defense, as well as the Central Statistical Office and the Chancellery of the Prime Minister. Rather than stimulate officials creativity and improve their effectiveness, internal controls created the obligation to produce additional documents which usually did not contribute to an improvement in the institution’s functioning.
Another Supreme Audit Office Control, this time focused the implementation of IT systems in cities and municipalities, shows that almost all of them have a traditional document management system (22 of 24 controlled offices) and only a couple had digital systems. In most of the offices (17 of 24), the number of services available digitally did not exceed 20. Four office only offered one digital service, that is the obligatory Electronic Inbox. Moreover, none of the controlled offices had services fully adapted to the needs of the handicapped. The actions of mayors and city presidents with regards to managing information safety in offices were also assessed negatively – irregularities were found in 21 offices.
Compared to other European countries Poland fares only a bit better than with regards to employment in administration. In the eGovernment Benchmark survey commission by the European Commission, Poland was rated at 76 percent in terms of on-line access to public services (such as opening economic activity or looking for a job), which landed our country in 12 places of 28. Thus, Poland has distanced a.o. France (75 percent), Great Britain (74 percent) and Belgium (74 percent).
Figure 3: Accessibility of on-line public services in EU states on a scale of 0 to 100.
Source: eGovernment Benchmark 2015, European Commission
The picture emerging from these statistics and reports in clearly negative and shows the authorities inability or unwillingness to restrict bureaucracy in our country. The economic crisis prompted most European countries to cut employment in administration, while in Poland the trend is exactly the opposite. Excessive bureaucratization and a low accessibility of e-administration create unnecessary barriers for entrepreneurship, complicating the procedures required by economic activity. In light of this, the fact that Poland finds itself in distant positions in competitiveness ranking is hardly a surprise.