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New alliance urges gubernatorial candidates to enforce healthy public administration

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @PCorreaHenry

Special to The Star


A group of entrepreneurs, professionals, academics, and members of non-profit organizations have joined forces to demand improvements in the recruitment of public officials for the leading government agencies and are urging gubernatorial candidates to reveal how they will enforce healthy public administration.


Talento PRO unites citizens from multiple sectors who are calling for the candidates who aspire to lead Puerto Rico starting in January 2021 to expeditiously address the issues that the island government faces with public management and provision of services. The alliance establishes that for decades the island has experienced deterioration in the quality of public service “as a result of many appointments of officials who do not have the experience, training, leadership, and commitment that government management requires.”


Talento PRO’s goals are to make healthy public administration, and the criteria outlined for it, a priority for candidates for governor in the upcoming elections; increase the number of citizens with the profile of worthy administrators willing to serve the country; improve satisfaction on the part of average citizens with the government services they receive; and increase citizen participation by establishing metrics and criteria that meet citizens’ expectations for healthy public administration.


Talento PRO spokeswoman Cecille Blondet Passalacqua, who also is the executive director of Espacios Abiertos, said that in order to improve public administration, the next governor must bring back trust and make sure that every appointment is distinguished by merit and knowledge over every other consideration.


“If we want a country that works, where everyone has access to quality essential services, the rescue of public value is unpostponable,” Blondet Passalacqua said Tuesday.


Talento PRO spokesman Carlos M. Rodríguez, who chairs the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association (AIPR by its Spanish initials), said the organization is calling for clear guidelines to prevent corruption such as establishing an anti-corruption office and an effective whistleblower system. However, he said, willingness and commitment are required in both the public and private sectors.


“Let’s think about deep solutions that pay to establish controls for transparency and elimination of cronyism in the government, of corruption and embezzlement of funds; controls for donations to political campaigns and creation of favors,” Rodríguez said. “If we want the economic development that we deserve, and for which the AIPR works daily, we need a country of high values and principles, with zero corruption and with transparency.”


As the initiative was created five weeks before the general elections on Nov. 3, Talento PRO declared that they arose at a time when nominated candidates do not have the professional experience or training required to occupy core positions in public service. Likewise, the group stated that as media outlets have revealed, there exists a rampant practice of nepotism in all government spheres by members of various political parties as they have appointed relatives and friends who do not have expertise or merit for the positions they have obtained, leading to deep discontent on the part of citizens who demand dramatic changes in this practice.


Puerto Rico Public Relations Association Chairwoman Karen Garnik said that even though “the phenomenon of government gigantism has added people, it has not translated into offering better services to citizens, but rather into increasing bureaucracy, lack of transparency and inefficiency.”


The alliance will broadcast public service announcements with the aforementioned claim on social media, TV, and radio created by pro-bono graphic designers and public relations officials. They are also collecting signatures to add allies through the “Change.org” portal, which is available at www.talentopropr.com.

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