6.1 As mentioned in the previous chapter, the Public Sector Management Reforms agenda aims, among others, at integrating reform initiatives and activities into the heart of public sector business strategy and aligning them with the new demands of the State in order to take forward the modernisation programme and to outperform in productivity and responsiveness. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries led the way with the introduction of New Public Management principles shifting the emphasis from traditional public administration to public management pushing the Public Sector towards “managerialism” and a performance-oriented culture.
6.2 We have, today, become closer to the heart of reforms through the introduction of Performance Management and Programme Based Budgeting. Performance Management System (PMS) has been introduced in a number of departments and action is underway for its extension to all Ministries and Departments. Programme Based Budgeting (PBB) has also been introduced within a Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).
6.3 With these new systems in place, Supervising Officers of Ministries/
Departments would be required to assume greater ownership of programme goals, i.e managers should have the ability and authority to manage for required results and should be accountable for the achievement – or otherwise – of those results. However, while the foregoing responsibility is immense, yet, it is argued that, the means given to CEOs to deliver on and bring to fruition their mandate and/or to successfully fulfil their different portfolios are limited in several ways. Many features of current Human Resource Management arrangements are incompatible with the new public management initiatives both PBB and PMS. Under current arrangements, external agencies rather than the managers of Ministries and Departments have more control on such aspects of the public service as recruitment, promotion, organisational structure, job classification and grading, pay rates, and other employment conditions. Power over appointments and the application of personnel rules are heavily centralised, with little authority over HR matters delegated to the Chief Executives. Moreover, as the Public Service provides protected employment with weak accountability for results and has become tolerant of indifferent performers, the CEO cannot effectively discipline non-performers nor reward good performers. Running a department along performance lines is difficult unless the Responsible Officers are empowered over time.
6.4 Mike Stevens, Consultant, World Bank, in his Report “Mission to Mauritius, April 2007”, argued that “Countries which have moved down the performance management road have done so partly by changing the balance between the civil service commission, the civil service ministry, and line ministries, departments and agencies. Likewise, civil service ministries (or Offices of Head of Civil Service) have delegated personnel management, within centrally set rules, guidelines and principles, to line Ministries”.
6.5 In that context, some actions in that direction have been taken to devolve power from the centre to line Ministries and Departments. The Ministry of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms has devolved on Supervising Officers of Ministries/
Departments a number of areas of Human Resource Management with a view to enabling them to manage their human resources effectively and efficiently and effectively. These include the approval of the payment of overtime allowance; approval of leave without pay for private purposes up to 90 days; approval of study leave without pay in respect of officers of the Departmental Grades; and administrative arrangements for the assignment of duties to officers of General Services Grades.
6.6 In addition, the Public Service Commission has, on its part, delegated to Responsible Officers the power to:
(i) make acting appointment/assignment of duties for a period of up to 120 days in respect of their Ministries/ Departments;
(ii) appoint in a substantive capacity, confirmed public officers who, after a selection exercise following advertisement to the general public, have been appointed to another post on a temporary basis for a period of six months; and
(iii) appoint employees belonging to the Workmen’s Group.
6.7 The existing administrative system has to be further transformed to leverage better public value to improve service delivery and increase effectiveness and responsiveness. There should be decentralisation and delegation of powers with clear accountability at each level of delivery combined with flatter management structures so that responsibility is pushed down to the operational level. In dealing with the big battalions like the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, and the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, countries which have reformed their civil service tend to treat these services as different, and seek to move away to more decentralised structures, boards, trusts etc, to locate management authority and responsibility closer to the points of service delivery. A reduction in the existing bureaucratic processes with simplification of procedures and process re-engineering to allow effective service delivery, is vital.
6.8 In this Report, we have recommended several measures to ensure the attainment of the above goals. These include changes in the organisation and pay structures to reduce layers and hierarchy in Government; linking pay and incentive to performance and results; introducing the concept of multi-skilling and polyvalent grades to increase the operational efficiency of employees; and proposing that the Public Service Commission considers the advisability of delegating more recruitment responsibilities down the line but within parameters approved by the Commission.
6.9 We have also incorporated systemic changes to empower Responsible
Officers to examine and tackle persistent cases of recruitment and retention problems in highly critical areas; to enforce bonds subscribed by trainees; to recruit staff on a month-to-month basis or for shorter periods or on assignment basis to suit the operational requirements of their organisations; and to conduct appropriate work related tests/assignments before recommending to the Public Service Commission the confirmation of any public officer in his office.
6.10 Supervising Officers of Ministries/Departments have also been devolved with authority to allow certain categories of officers to work from home on certain assignments where demand exists and resources permit; to enlist the services of part-time employees in designated grades, to consider purchase of services under the Central Procurement Act; and to grant free communication facilities to public officers. A distinct recommendation has also been made authorising the Supervising Officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Cooperation to revise the ceiling of the rent and utilities of diplomatic staff, subject to a maximum of 10% to deal with urgent cases.
6.11 All these changes are geared towards ensuring an effective administration which is responsive to the needs of end consumers. Establishing more delegation with accountability in the decision-making process has, therefore, been one of the main thrust areas recommended by the Bureau. Under the PBB, Ministries and Departments would be given further freedom to manage budgets for performance, but accompanied by stronger reporting and accountability disciplines. The way forward is to move further in that direction.