Wanted: superleader (editorial)

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Photo: Elmo Riig / Sakala

Police and Border Guard Board (PBGB)is looking for director general tasked with guaranteeing citizens’ daily security in all respects. We require experience at leading large organisations or long-term leadership experience in internal security. We offer stressful work 24/7, 365 days a year, constant media atention, public spotlight and salary provided by law (i.e. not necessarily motivating).

Sure, a job ad like that will never ever appear in newspapers. However, the content is solid truth. The failure of public competition for PBGB’s new chief is food for thought indeed: how then do we find the best person for a post called by Marko Pomerants, former Minister of the Interior, «the most difficult job in the Republic of Estonia», before parliament. Considering these words, obviously to the point, it was quite remarkable to have three whole candidates.

A giant of an establishment after 2010merger with close to 6,000 employees, PBGB has not had it easy last couple of years. According to consultancy Ernst & Young’s 2012 analysis, problems were many. Tensions have surfaced (such as confusion with salaries, staff trouble etc).

At the same time, there’s the daily problems, criticism (like in the case of police officers beaten in Viljandi, disorder leading to murder in Türi, little girl killed in Narva, to name a few). The scandal of illegal devices used to measure speed in Eastern Prefecture led to letter of resignation from current chief Raivo Küüt. Until no new man/woman is found, Mr Küüt will have to continue.

The decision to let leaders with private sector background run as candidates (earlier, years in prominent state jobs were required), became a law at 12th hour (before Christmas, last year) – being, however, a wise and welcome step, as also confirmed by former top-policemen now in parliament. After merger, PBGB is a large and hard-to-lead organisation, which could, of course, be managed by a police officer or border guard, but first and foremost by a highly capable leader with largeness of mind, able to forge PBGB into a unified force. In other words, into an agency both effective and motivated.

Even though PBGB’s new head is being sought by a commission, the responsibility also clearly falls on Minister of the Interior Ken-Marti Vaher, to keep the main thing the main thing, namely: to find a competent person. Not to mention the risks related to final decision. PBGB chief search cannot drag on too long. For, at some point, it would cease to be merely the headache of a headless organisation, evolving into infirmity of a vital part of the state.