Who is the Chief Operating Officer of the Government of Georgia?
25 July, 2013

Under the old system, the policy of the government, the new plans or programs they implanted came directly from the president. Or if they came from the leadership team then they needed to be repackaged so that they somehow belonged to him. There weren’t too many ideas that came from outside of the leadership team that ended up being implemented.

For the few that did, they had to go through a process of being owned first by the leadership team
and then by the president. But once a decision was made about a course of action it went to the prime minister to implement. Even those things that wold be implemented in the judiciary or parliament would to some degree be handled by him. This system of implementation through the prime minister had a great advantage of lateral communication. Since the prime minister would oversee almost everything or at least be aware of it, he could insure that ministers knew what other ministers were doing and could contribute, and clearly understand what was happening.

Now, the president really only has the power of speaking through the press and the ability to veto bills that pass parliament. The decision making power is with the prime minister. One of the most important questions for Georgia right now is how do decisions get implemented and who specifically is responsible for that. Currently it is not clear who has that responsibility.

There is a term for this in large international companies. It is called the chief operating officer. There will be a chief executive officer who in Georgia is known as the director, and then a officer each directing finance, technology, marketing, production, human resources, those type of things. The chief operating officer is the one, usually senior to the others, who makes sure they are all working together and knows what the others are doing. She or he integrates the work of all the department. A famous and very successful manager of companies in the US once said that the top manager in a huge company really only has three jobs: to identify and empower great individuals, to allocate money, and to ensure that information moves around the company very quickly. The chief operating officer ensures that information moves among departments, but is usually the one to whom the boss relies on to be sure things get done. “operations” is the term in business for how things get implemented within a company.

So who is or who should be the chief operating officer of the government of Georgia? There are a number of different possibilities. It could be a deputy prime minister. But the current deputy prime ministers are not the type to do this work. The work of implementing decisions is detailed work that requires somebody who has a talent for organizational detail. The current deputy prime ministers have not been chosen for those skills. Another possibility would be, at least after the elections, the president, but it doesn’t make sense for somebody who is directly elected to have that job, the president will be a political figure and should in some ways be at counter balance to the prime minister. A third possibility would be the minister of finance. The finance ministry has a great deal of responsibility for overseeing and paying for the implementation of decisions so in some ways it is a natural choice. But if this becomes the case then it needs to be made official so that other ministers would know that the finance minister has become somewhat of a leader among the other ministers. The job could even be done by a chief of staff of the prime minister or there could be a staff position to take care of operations. But currently the prime ministers staff is small and is not really taking care of anything at this level, officially at least.

If this question of operations is not clarified, the danger is that somebody or some group will unofficially become responsible for this but with all the uncertainty, envy, and miscommunication that can go along with unofficial responsibility. The prime minister has said he will soon retire so there are those around him who may be thinking about what they will be doing after that retirement. Deciding who is responsible for operations is one of the most important responsibilities the prime minister has right now. And the sooner it is done, the more the government can achieve. And also the more the ministries can focus on their work rather than on positioning themselves and finding out what is going on in the rest of the government.