Lots of stuff was hidden behind fake smiles and closed doors and communities. Out of sight, out of mind.
They did a meritocracy in civil service employment in the USA through the 1980s.It worked when politically honest but more often not the tests were gamed to suit the wanted employee.This wasn’t so true in National tests but in local and state govt, customizing tests was common. If they didn’t get who they wanted, they cancel the test and six months later it reappears under a new job title with another test. But this time they give the answers to their preferred employee to be.
But when run scientfically and honestly, I think it can work.
Because of the political gaming of a system — ANY system – unfortunately requires regulations / laws / rules / inspections / etc.
It also requires honest judges, and checks for the judges too.