Government would soon enter into performance contracts with ministers of State on the basis of mutually agreed targets and programmes to enhance delivery and performance.
“The business of government is to deliver public services to the citizenry and the private sector in a manner that provides opportunities for all, as well as yields live-improving results,” Dr. Michael Whyte Kpessa, Presidential Policy Analyst, Office of the President, said.
Dr Kpessa was speaking at a training workshop organised by the Public Service Commission for Public Sector Human Resource Managers and Director at the Ghana Institute of Management and Productivity (GIMPA) on Monday.
The two-week workshop is being held in collaboration with the Australia Public Service Commission (APSC) with support from the Australia Agency for International Development (AusAID).
The current APSC programme, which aimed to assist and strengthen accountability mechanisms across the civil and public services of Ghana, would run over two years.
It aimed at providing directors and deputy directors with further knowledge and insight into effective human resource management, share information on effective human resource management to foster workplace competency.
Dr Kpessa said with that shift to performance contract with ministers and their subordinates, government hoped to eliminate ambiguities and impediments that hindered the ability of all categories of public servants to yield the optimal results in the performance of their assigned duties.
He noted that public sector was increasingly expected to run itself effectively, efficiently and in a citizenry-centered manner, importing key private sector concepts where appropriate which called for aligning every action and strategy towards a meaningful citizenry experience.
“While the citizen must sit at the centre of service-delivery strategy, the preferred implementation approach needs to take into account the ways in which public sector organizations are structured. In particular, hierarchical, ‘siloed’ structures have the potential to present a major challenge to the delivery of citizen-centered services across all agencies within an organization.
“In Ghana today, there is an urgent need to take a closer look at the performance of our public sector in terms of the degree of citizenry satisfaction with services, and the extent to which public servants have internalize the principles of career in the public service, and are willing to live up to it,” he added.
He emphasized that even after years of institutional reforms that transferred series of previous public services to the private sector through privatization, the public sector in Ghana of which the PSC were important actors, “is today still under increasing pressure to deliver a broad and complex range of services – from motor licenses and land records, to health, education and municipal services – in a manner that is timely, efficient, economical, equitable, transparent and corruption-free”.
Dr Kpessa said delivering effective public services required positive changes at multiple levels – the way public sector organizations behave; how they view their roles; and how they share information between departments, with businesses and with their citizenry.
“On its own, changes in the policy and regulatory framework alone are not enough to achieve the desired results. Capacity-building programmes such as this one are very important in promoting public sector transformation, however, questions linger about the extent to which lessons and new insights acquired through capacity building programmes are put to productive use or made to manifest in practice.
“As you spend the next few days in this workshop, I urge you to reflect on the process and organizational changes needed in the conduct of individual public servants, within individual agencies and across public sector organizations, with the objective of empowering civil servants – as well as institutions – with the right tools for ensuring a return to the values of public service.
“We cannot do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. Your position as Directors and Human Resource Managers require you to innovate, and do so in a manner that demands monitoring and evaluation of the performance of the human resources you manage. It is not enough to employ people into the public sector and not clearly specify their specific roles and responsibilities, and the mechanisms for accessing their performance,” he said.
Madam Zabeta Moutafis, Head of Development Cooperation in charge of West Africa, AusAID, said the APSC programme started in Ghana in 2011, when a team visited and met with central government agencies to discuss their interest in working with the APSC on some of their reform priorities.
She said in 2012, they organized the first workshop for 40 human resource managers, out of which the APSC developed a plan in collaboration with PSC, Ghana for a two-year programme.
The programme, she said, would work with the PSC to institutionalize the performance management policy; establish a Human Resource Leaders Network to build awareness and implementation of government Human Resource policies; assist with the development and implementation of a Ghana State of the Service Report – a report to parliament to outline civil and public service strengths and challenges with the aim of building public trust and confidence in government services.
She added that it would also work with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to strengthen implementation of performance management policy on food security.
Mrs Bridget Katsriku, Chairperson of Public Service Commission, stressed the need for the civil and public servants to be innovative to effect positive changes.
She noted that performance should be one area that people would be sanctioned for non-performance or rewarded for efficiency and hard work.
She announced that the Commission would soon come out with clear guidelines on how people would be rewarded for their good performance or sanctioned for non-performance.
Mrs Katsriku said the era that civil/public servants capitalized on security of tenure and do things their own way was passed and urged them to take their work seriously to effect the necessary changes within the Service.
The Commission, she said, would soon come out with a guide to guard directors and heads of department as to how to manage their staff to achieve result.
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