UTC (United Terran Congress): Governance
In this file are explained the methods and organizations of the UTC government
UTC is governed by three parliamentary organizations: The High Council, The PEN (Parliament of Earth Nations) and JCA (Joint Colonial Administrations). The High Council is the main deciding element of the UTC government, while the PEN and JCA have advisory and minor decisional functions. Below these are the grand committees that handle the day to day affairs of the UTC (and which, for all thoughts and purposes are ministries of their assigned responsibility areas) and the appointed comities which are gathered and appointed as needed to settle a specific issue. Separate from the main body of rule but still important organizations are the Public Operations Division, the M.A.S.F (Mechanically Assisted Strike Forces), the Earth Naval Corps (ENC) and the Colonial Ground Forces (CGF).
The High Council consists of 50 elected members, one for each of the original leading members of the founders of the UTC, the Silver Brethren. The members of the High Council are chosen from the members of PEN and JCA. The High Council is the organization that sets all the laws of the UTC and thus wields the highest authority in the government. Unlike in the pre- Congress parliaments, the High Council does not form parties, but instead each member votes according to his or her conscience.
Selecting a new council member:
A member of the High Council can hold his/her office until one of the following events occurs:
The member resigns of his/her own accord.
The member is removed from office as a result of a vote of the other council members.
The member is removed from office as a result of more than three (3) corruption accusations that have been proven true.
The member dies in office.
Regardless of the cause, the electing the new member proceeds in the following order: First, Both the PEN and the JCA elect one (1) among their number to be their "recommended candidate". Then the remaining council members study the personal history files of both candidates, compare the two in their discussion sessions and finally vote on which one of the recommended candidates becomes the successor to the previous member. Should the vote be a stalemate, the next member is chosen by lottery instead. A new member is then appointed to the empty PEN or JCA position by this persons home world (in the case of the case of JCA), or his/her home nation (in the case of PEN).
Should the count of sitting High Council Members ever fall below 25 members, a different strategy of election is employed instead. In this scenario the grand committee of law analysis automatically receives the emergency infrastructural laws to restore the number of High Council members. The grand committee then selects appropriate members from all the grand committees following these criteria:
There must be at least one (1) member elected from each grand committee
The number of selected candidates from one grand committee must not exceed the total number of selected members from two or more grand committees.
No votes are held on these selected members, but they are instead appointed directly into the Council upon their selection. No new laws or treaties may be made during this emergency period. Military forces are allowed to conduct routine and defensive missions during the emergency period bun not execute offensive missions. After the new council members have been appointed, the emergency will cease and the emergency infrastructural laws granted to the grand committee will be withdrawn. The M.A.S.F ascertains the proper conduct of all involved organizations during the crisis.
Counters to corruption
In order to shield the government against internal corruption, any one of the High Council members, as well as any of the members of either PEN or JCA may request an investigation based on signs of corruption of any kind that he or she believes to have observed on a High Council member. Investigation will always occur after such a request. The grand committee of justice & security will oversee such an investigation. If sufficient evidence of corruption is found, this evidence is brought to the attention of the High Council. The High Council will then vote on whether or not the accused Council member will be removed from office. Should more than three individual corruption cases surface at any time, this removal from office becomes automatic as it is assumed that the accused Council member is too prone to allowing such factors influence his or her actions. However, to protect individuals against intentional smearing of their reputations by making groundless accusations, should it happen that no evidence to suggest corruption is found, a counter – investigation on the one who made the investigation request occurs instead. This time the grand committee will investigate the possibility of such an "honor smearing" attempt. Should evidence be found, it will go through the same procedures as in the case of corruption. In addition to these precautionary practices, the committee of justice & security monitors the financial activities of the Council members for anomalies and keeps an eye open in case of blackmailing incidents. The committee may recommend a removal from office based on their findings (mostly "for unclassified reasons" in the cases of blackmail or other similar cases).
Parliament of Earth Nations (PEN)
PEN consists those old nations of earth which were in existence upon the creation of the UTC, as well as the five largest earth based corporations and the five most influential earth religions. Each nation, corporation or religion has precisely one (1) representative in the PEN. The PEN has several important roles in the Congress governance: First, as noted before the PEN selects a candidate amongst its number whenever a new High Council member is being elected. Secondly, the PEN issues a statement on a law under development, which will be viewed alongside the statement issued by the JCA (see "preparation of a new law" for more). Member factions of the PEN are allowed to negotiate treaties and trade agreements with each other and with the member factions of JCA, as long as these treaties do not violate an existing Congress law.
Although the nations represented in the PEN have long since been disbanded, the regions where they once existed are still called nations, and still provide administration to those the citizens that live within their borders. These administrations, while possessing a limited authority to act on their own accord, must do so according to Congress law. The main leading members of each region are elected by their local population for five- year terms in much the same way that parliament members were selected in the pre- Congress nations.
Joint Colonial Administrations (JCA)
JCA represents the worlds colonized by the UTC and those dispersal- era colonies that have been successfully reintegrated (either by the world joining the Congress after contact has been established, or by the world having been acquired after a military campaign.) Also represented are those few spacer (See file Culture, section "Spacers" for more information) settlements that have a population of over 1000 individuals and do not fall under the jurisdiction of any world. Just like in the PEN, each colony has a single member appointed to JCA. Overall, it could be said that the PEN and JCA are all but identical as their functions, rights and duties are the same. Just like the PEN, the JCA selects a candidate amongst their number when a new High Council member is being selected and issues a statement of every new law being made. And just like the PEN, the JCA is allowed to negotiate treaties as long as no existing Congress laws are violated. Historically the JCA is a slightly younger organization than the PEN, as it was established only after the UTC expanded to include the first colonies outside the Sol system.
The local administrations of UTC colonies can be divided into two rough categories. In the UTC colonized worlds and in those dispersal era colonies where the previous government has become too badly mauled due to military actions or is otherwise considered unsalvageable, the ruling body is a Magistrate office that handles the day to day governing of their respective worlds. The leading members of the Magistrate office called "administrative branch officers". Each branch officer is responsible for a single aspect of local governance i.e. the administrative branch officer of the environment, thus filling the role of a minister in the pre- Congress nations. The branch officers are elected by the local population for five- year terms. This form of local administration is the "basic model" for the UTC and thus by far the most common version to be found. However, in some dispersal era colonies that have joined willingly to the UTC, the original government form has been allowed to remain, both as a reward and as an effort to soothe relations.
Public Operations Division
The Public Operations Division has been established to fulfill the following roles:
To provide a balancing and opposing force to private employers to ensure that said private employers do not gain too much influence.
To provide low- income jobs to those not employed by private employers.
To provide easily accessible jobs to young adults who wish to gain working experience.
To provide an alternative method of paying taxes for Congress citizens.
To provide the vitally necessary supplies, services and materials even during an economic crisis or recession
To provide affordable and legal workers and materials to private industry as required.
The Public Operations Division is divided to a number of branch offices each of which controls the government maintained jobs of a certain area of industry or commerce. The various branch offices are as follows:
The branch office of Space engineering, which constructs the majority of installations and spaceships the various UTC organizations need
The branch office of terraforming,that is responsible of turning planets that are to be colonized into habitable environments (see file technology, section terraforming for more information), also controls the distribution of gene manipulated life forms of the "genesis" stock (see file technology, section gene technology for more information)
The branch office of regular engineering constructs the ground, sea and air vehicles, the machines, equipment, tools and armaments that the UTC organizations need.
The branch office of mining handles the mining, smelting and forging of metals and minerals from both space based and planetary government mining operations.
The branch office of research & development that creates and tests new technology and improves the already existing technologies.
The branch office of agriculture that handles the non- private production of both space and planet based food as well as other products created from agriculture.
The branch office of healthcare employs the doctors, nurses, surgeons, nutritionists and other professions working in the public healthcare system.
The branch office of construction, designs and constructs the planet based, government owned buildings and facilities.
The branch office of education provides the personnel an materials needed by the public schooling system
The branch office of Environment & woodworks does the government financed ecological preservation projects, as well as working in the areas of lumber and paper industry
The branch office of science handles all other sciences except those areas which fall under the jurisdiction of the branch office of research & development
The branch office of administration employs office workers, organizers and other "paper pushers" that the society needs. Most grand committees draw a large portion of their workforce from this branch.
The overall command authority of the Public Operations Division is in the hands of the grand committee of public works, with the grand committee of economy & industry providing information and recommendations.
As the Public Operations Division does not place heavy experience or skill requirements on its workers, most young adults begin their working careers in one of its branch offices. Most of these people later move on to private areas of employment, because private employers often offer better salaries than the Public Operations Division. Some, however, do stay to work with the Public Operation Division, mainly because the stability of the jobs it offers. These individuals are vital, as they help to introduce the next generation of workers to their professions.
Young adults beginning their working lives are not the only source of workers for the Public Operations Division. Many of its workers are people called "tax workers". These people, as their name would suggest are working to pay off their taxes. In the United Terran Congress, taxes can be paid for by money and/or work. When working to pay off taxes, Congress citizens will work in one of the Public Operations Division branch offices for free. The amount work hours the citizen works in the Public Operations Division is recorded, and the sum a regular worker would have earned in that time is deducted from the amount tax money the citizen would have to pay that year. This model of taxpaying is seen as being especially beneficial to those Congress citizens with a very low income, as this way they can save more money for their daily lives. To high income persons this system is of little use, as most directly collected taxes are progressive, which means they would have to work a great deal more to meaningfully affect their taxation. Most Congress citizens have adopted a two – work system to optimize their income, working mostly for a private employer (or as a Public Operations Division regular, as is sometimes the case), but having a part time tax payer job in the Public Operations Division alongside the primary job.
Also, those criminals convicted of medium grade crimes (see file Culture, section "Crime Grade system" for more information) are on occasion allowed to work in some areas, primarily to help retrain them to the society and to give them a chance to partially make up for their crimes. Similar possibilities are provided to those prisoners of war who have not been in command positions (see file Culture, sections "Crime Grade" system and file Military section "treatment of prisoners" for more information) during the war. Working prisoners are naturally strictly guarded to prevent escapes.
Much of the funding of the Public Operations Division comes from taxation, but this is not the only source. The Public Operations Division also sells products it makes to private corporations. In addition the Public Operations Division can "rent" Taxpayer workers to Private Corporations for short – term periods to work on corporate investment projects (for instance if a corporation wants to construct a large number of residences, it can "rent" workers from the branch office of construction to participate in the project). The corporations benefit as they can get an affordable workforce (as they have to pay only for the food and housing of the Taxpayer workers plus the renting fee) that is both perfectly legal and generally accepted by the Congress citizens. In return the Public Operations Division also purchases advanced products and services that it is unable to produce itself from corporations (for example majority of the Congress ships are constructed in government shipyards, but the software and some of the advanced electronics involved in these ships are supplied by private corporations)
The grand committees serve an administering function in the UTC. They handle the day- to -day affairs of the UTC; monitor the proper conduct of the other UTC organizations and answer to the daily requests, questions and complaints of the Congress citizens. With the exception of the grand committee of law analysis, each grand committee is controlled by a chairman. The chairman is selected by the High Council from amongst the senior members of that grand committee, and is effectively the minister of the position he holds. Below them are the branch officers of their responsibility area on each world or nation, or their respective positions in the cases of other local administration forms. To reduce bureaucracy, the local administrations are allowed to act on their own accord, although they must do so according to Congress law and must file reports of all their activities. The chairman can order a local administration to change their practices if he believes their actions are not done according to the law.
The Grand committee of law analysis is organized slightly differently than the other Grand committees: - All workers that have worked for the committee for 15 or more years are considered "senior analysts" and they are the ones who control this particular grand committee. These senior analysts decide collectively the standing interpretation of the UTC laws after studying the other laws and consulting the High Council and the parties the law is believed to concern, including the grand committee responsible for that area of administration. The standing interpretations will then function as guidelines for all workers of the Grand committee of law analysis as they conduct their duties. This arrangement is seen as vital, as it would be too risky to allow one man to decide how a law should be understood.
The Grand committees are as follows:
The Grand committee of law analysis: The workers of the Grand Committee of law analysis specialize in understanding the UTC charge of this Committee is to assure that the laws that are made are correctly understood and that the intentions of these laws are preserved when they are put into practice. This is accomplished by considering the other laws (particularly the constitutional laws) of the UTC and creating a consensus "standing interpretation". Also the grand committee of law analysis will hear the opinions of the High Council, the grand committee responsible for the administration area in question, and those private citizens and organization the law is believed to concern, although the opinion of these forces are considered secondary to what the laws say. The other Congress organizations can then use this use this "standing interpretation" as a base line in solving unclear law issues. The Grand committee also provides the expertise of its operatives to the Congress citizens. Law analysts are especially valued assets in business deals, as they can ascertain that laws are not violated and thus preventing expensive problems with other officials at a later time. They also assist lawyers, judges, private citizens and other elements in courts (which means they often work together with the Grand committee of justice & security) and advice the High Council should there be a contradiction between an older law and a new law under development. Overall the services of the Grand committee help to clarify the United Terran Congress laws and solve contradictions and issues in law affairs.
The grand committee of law analysis is also responsible for selecting the missing members of the High Council when the emergency infrastructural laws have been granted to them. The senior analysts are responsible for selecting the members from among all the grand committees at such a time. The responsibility of selecting the High Council has been granted to this grand committee because it is believed that they have the best "overall view" of the Congress functions and thus they are able to select the suitable High Council members better than the rest of the grand committees.
The grand committee of religions, faiths & ideologies: This Grand committee is responsible for controlling and regulating the myriad religions within the UTC and ascertaining that they abide by those laws and restrictions that the UTC has placed upon religions (see file Culture, section "Religions" for more). In addition to this, the Grand committee is to function as a mediator when two religious groups come into a conflict with one another, helping them to find a peaceful solution to their problems. As part of their work, the grand committee is to actively to curb the activities of religions not on the list of approved religions and registering new religions as part of that list (if they are judged to be suitable) when they are encountered or their existence is discovered.
The grand committee of economy & industry is to keep the UTC economic situation stable andhandle the management of private industrial and economic corporations within the United Terran Congress. They grant the trading permits, monitor the operations of the corporations in order to root out abusing of workers and environment, and ensuring that they obey the law in all things. A second important function of the grand committee is to assess and set the taxation rate as well as draft the annual budget on both planetary (or national in case of Earth) and interplanetary levels. The grand committee also monitors the overall economic situation and plans government responses so recessions can be avoided. This grand committee co-operates greatly with the grand committee of public works, as their responsibility areas are somewhat linked.
The grand committee of military handles the administration and controlling of Congress military forces, including the M.A.S.F. Although the declaration of war (or counter rebellion campaign as it is officially called) demands a permission granted by the High Council, the grand committee can authorize operations in an ongoing campaign, as well as set the overall objectives of the campaign as well as the forces that are deployed to achieve them. The grand committee also handles the administrative aspects of more routine operations, like resupplying, reinforcing, troop movements and patrolling.
The grand committee of justice and security is responsible of maintaining internal security of the UTC and handle numerous legality affairs of Congress citizens (marriages, divorces, debts, testaments etc). They train the public security forces from local police forces to covert operatives as well as the judges of the various court levels within the Congress. They are also responsible for monitoring the High Council members for internal corruption and investigating claims of corruption that PEN or JCA members might make against High Council members. Administering and maintaining of the various UTC prison facilities both on worlds and in space is also among their duties.
The grand committee of public works is one of the most diverse of the grand committees. The main responsibility of this grand committee is to lead the Public Operations Division, and through them handle much of the production, services, employment and education within the UTC. The grand committee has many other important functions: - They handle the public information distribution and government owned news networks, hire artists for government cultural projects and perhaps most critically, organize the exploration and colonization processes of space.
Preparation of a new law
Propositions for new laws come from four main sources. First, any of the High Council members can propose a new law. The PEN and JCA members also have this right which is the second source. Thirdly, private citizens can suggest a new law, but they must have at least twenty thousand (20 000) names in an address before presenting this suggestion forward (they can naturally contact a PEN, JCA or High Council member to have them present their idea for them). At the last, the grand committees can recommend a creation of a new law or laws based on a change in the society (for example the launch of a completely new commercial product type which consequently would require laws and regulations to be placed upon it)
When a proposition for a new law is made, an appointed committee is formed. This appointed committee includes various experts of the area, members of the grand committee in charge of that areas management, as well as the person who originally presented the new law, or this person's representative. It is the responsibility of the formed appointed committee to prepare the initial form of the law being made. This initial form is then presented to the grand committee of law analysis. The grand committee will study the initial form and try to determine whether or not the law being created would be in contradiction with previous laws. In particular the grand committee will find out if the law being made would be in contradiction with a constitutional law or an inviolable law (see file Culture, section laws for more information). Once this information has been gathered, the initial form and the findings of the grand committee of law analysis will be presented to the PEN, JCA and High Council. The PEN and JCA will review the law next. Both organizations will then make a written statement based on the overall opinion of its members. It is usual to include public opinion studies and other statistics as part of these statements.
Once the statements of the statements of PEN and JCA, and the report of the grand committee of law analysis have been presented to the High Council, they will discuss the law amongst themselves, and then decide whether to accept the current law form or send it back to the appointed committee to be adjusted. If the law is sent to be adjusted, the High Council will make a report of the shortcomings of the law and the unclear sections of the law they felt would need clarification. The appointed committee will the either work to correct these shortcomings or withdraw the proposal. Once the corrections have been made, the law will once again be presented to the High Council, as well as the PEN and JCA. The PEN and JCA will once again issue a statement of the new version and in the next voting of the High Council the law will either pass or be rejected. When making a change to a constitutional law, the PEN and JCA must also announce their support to the new constitutional law. Whether these organizations give this support is decided by voting. If either organization refuses to give its support, the constitutional law will not pass. Inviolable laws cannot be changed except through "the rule of improvement".
Should a law that is in contradiction with an earlier law pass, it has been the practice to assume that the previous law will become null and void, either fully or on the part that it is in contradiction with the new law. When the new law that passes is in contradiction with a constitutional law, the new law is placed in holding until the constitutional law has been changed. The High Council can choose to reject straight away a law that would be in contradiction with a constitutional law, instead of sending it to be corrected. If the constitutional law is not changed within three years, the contradicting laws in holding are cancelled. Laws that would be in contradiction with an inviolable law cannot pass in the first place.
Should the people be unhappy with the new law, they can organize a protest address. The High Council is honor bound to receive this address and consider whether or not to cancel the law. Should the amount of people who sign the address exceed sixty percent (60 %) of the total voting aged population (18 years old or older on most words), the new law will be automatically cancelled. This can be done with both regular and constitutional laws. The previous law is considered to be the legitimate one when a new law is cancelled.
Inviolable laws and "the rule of improvement"
Inviolable laws are laws made to protect the equality between Congress citizens and ascertain their fair treatment. Inviolable laws are intentionally very rigid, as they can only be modified via the so called "rule of improvement". When a proposal to change an inviolable law is made and the initial form has been prepared, it is presented to the grand committees. Before the law can proceed to the next phase of preparation all of the grand committees must concur that the new law would improve equality and fairness in the UTC, as well as give the reasons on which they base their conclusion on for public display. Should even one grand committee not concur, the preparation of the law will stop. Should the law pass this stage; the law will be prepared as a constitutional law would be. Once again, the citizens of the United Terran Congress can organize a protest address should they be unhappy with the new law, but this time eighty percent (80%) of the total voting aged population must sign this address for the new law to be automatically cancelled.