Minister Josef Dobeš chose Jana Machálková (above) as his PR and HR advisor on Nov. 22; she earned roughly as much as the Czech prime minister in December.
Josef Dobeš (Public Affairs, VV) took as his mottos “government of budgetary responsibility” and “priority to reductions in spending” when he started in his office as the minister of education. After three chief directors of the minister’s executive office (whom he chose himself) left during the past six months, the post was filled with Jana Machálková (30) on Feb.1.
The adequacy of her qualifications and professional experience for taking on such an important role in the state administration is, however, questionable; Machálková is only now studying for a bachelor’s degree at the J. A. Komenský University (UJAK) and has never worked as a team leader.
Minister Dobeš has had four chief executive directors in the last seven months
Nevertheless, according to materials obtained by Czech Position straight from the ministry, in her post as the minister’s “adviser” for PR and personnel, she earned Kč 145,000 before taxes in December — a salary higher than Dobeš himself would be legally entitled to, and roughly the same as the current salary of Prime Minister Petr Nečas (Civic Democrats, ODS).
“According to Act No.236/195 Coll., as amended, the Prime Minister’s salary in the years 2011 to 2014 totals Kč 150,000 per month,” government spokesman Jan Osúch said in answer to Czech Position’s question.
When asked about her remunerations at the ministry, Machálková, who has been working for the Ministry of Education (MŠMT) since Nov. 22, 2010, said the following: “I think this is nonsense. Including bonuses, I may have earned about 35,000 before tax last December. But I don’t know how much exactly went into my account. I haven’t checked the amount.”
The energetic lady added that it could be a case of someone’s ill will, as she is not afraid to upset the old order in the office. And her priority is, Machálková says, to look after the taxpayers’ money.
Unlike Machálková, the Czech prime minister not only has a university degree, he also obviously has considerable political experience and, above all, incomparably more responsibility. Perhaps the new director has other qualities, which could refresh the stuffy office and bring a bit more life to it?
Director of Communication Lucie Kubovičová said the ministry would not respond to Czech Position’s questions, as the publication’s articles regularly contain ‘demeaning’ information
To find out, Czech Position approached the ministry’s press office with three questions: 1) How many people applied for the post of the chief director in the open selection process, which, according to the ministry’s Director of Communication Lucie Kubovičová, has taken place; 2) What are the new director’s qualifications and previous experience; 3) and what are her main objectives in the post and what does she hope to bring in?
Even after repeated requests, the press office did not respond to these questions. However, we did get a reply from PR director Kubovičová herself — sort of. In an e-mail, she told Czech Position that “as your articles regularly contain misleading and demeaning information, we will not respond to your queries regarding personal data of the ministry’s employees.” So much for the Education Ministry’s information embargo on the simple question of who is Machálková and why she is qualified to be the current right hand of Minister Dobeš.
The ministry at odds with the law
As we were told by Oldřich Kužílek, an adviser for the freedom of information in state administration, the public is entitled by law to know the professional curriculum vitae and qualifications of civil servants (Personal Data Protection Act, Act No. 101/2000 Coll. - §5 Paragraph 2 Section f). “If a public office refuses to communicate with a particular journalist because they ask difficult factual questions, then they are, in my opinion, failing in their duty to provide information about the office’s work. This is required by Article 17 Paragraph 5 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Basic Freedoms,” he said.
Kužílek also thinks that such conduct could be viewed as “a kind of selective precursory censorship.” Censorship is prohibited by Paragraph 3 of the same article in the charter. It is the duty of ministerial representatives to provide information about the work of the ministry to all journalists. “Employees of the ministry have no right to choose which media will receive more information or which won’t get any,” Kužílek adds.
Experience in the Early Years
Let’s get back to our topic: Who is Chief Director Machálková? Her CV, which Czech Position managed to obtain, states that she attended Secondary Pedagogical School (training teachers for the first stage of primary education) in Přerov, North Moravia, which she finished in 1998. In 2008, she started her bachelor’s degree in social and mass communication at UJAK. The new director’s work experience includes teaching at a nursery school in Kozlov, near Olomouc, and work for “nonprofit organization NSSJ.” (We can but speculate whether this stands for Náboženskáspolečnost Svědků Jehovových [Jehovah’s Witnesses] or perhaps the Novi Sad School of Journalism...) ‘Bill Gates hasn’t been to university either. Is that a reason to think that he isn’t doing a good job?’
After 2005, Machálková taught Czech for foreigners at Caledonian School and from September 2008 she worked in the HR department of British school Park Lane. Although the CV says that she was “the head of HR and had responsibility for the whole team,” Czech Position found out that she only led a team total of 1.5 full-time employees. What then made her career soar to such heights?
Information from the ministry tells us that Machálková is an ambitious lady who is resolute in her efforts and very confident. She declined to meet us, saying that Czech Position writes mostly tendentious articles of the tabloid type.