5.1 The role of the State is changing and the Mauritian Civil Service is increasingly being called upon to be a proactive “Facilitator” and an “Agent of Social Change.” The key functions of the Civil Service in this competitive environment can be summarised as follows: developing creative and strategic policies; designing and delivering services directly or in partnership which meet the needs of the public; using public money efficiently - and these, while upholding the core respected values of integrity, impartiality, honesty and objectivity.
5.2 The reasons for reforms, besides the changing role of the State, include the scarcity of financial resources, the limited options available to the State to harness resources; higher expectations from citizens; and the impact of globalisation and that of Information and Communication Technologies.
5.3 The socio-economic reform agenda, on which the country has embarked, has ambitious aims, namely broadening the circle of opportunities; empowering the population to succeed in the new environment; securing social equity and justice; and upholding the principles of rules-based decision-making, transparency and good governance.
5.4 Against this background, Public Sector Management Reforms have to respond both to the changing role of the State and the need to facilitate and catalyse the broader national and sectoral reforms process engaged by the country. In the face of fundamental changes in development philosophy, the challenges are to make the Civil Service an entity which is continually evolving and renewing itself – keeping pace with the changes – while maintaining its values, sense of self-worth, identity and its ability to serve successive governments.
5.5 The Public Sector Management Reforms agenda, therefore aims, among other objectives, 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. In this regard, this review emphasises and recommends the changes that need to be brought on the different fronts to shape the direction in which the Public Sector should move in the medium and longer term.
5.6 No doubt, most countries are exposed to the same or same type of challenges. Though different groups of countries are dealing with the issues differently, several of the reform measures cut across different countries. 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.
5.7 The New Zealand Government recognised that, as part of its Civil Service reform programme, the lines of accountability between the bureaucracy and the political executive needed to be clarified. The relationships between Ministers and Departmental Chief Executives were outlined. The ministerial role has been to set the policy agenda, determine priorities, specify designed outcomes and output levels, and then monitor the pertinent performance at the departmental level. The task of the Chief Executive has been to satisfy these requirements and to take responsibility for any shortcoming in quality or quantity of output. The experience showed that accountability in the Public Service can be enhanced by a tighter definition of tasks and accomplishments.
5.8 Nearer to us, our neighbours in Africa are implementing several measures in the context of the new public management initiatives. The Economic Commission of Africa on Public Sector Management Reforms recommended a series of measures for implementation depending on the situation. These recommendations, most of which are very pertinent for Mauritius, are given below:
Ø Simplification/flattening of organisation structures to facilitate decision taking and improve accountability, and Pay Reforms with emphasis on results
Ø The adoption of Performance Management with a view to inculcating a performance culture in the Public Sector which is client-focused and results-oriented, constantly seeking ways to improve the delivery of public services
Ø A competency-based approach to training and development of public servants with a view to developing the capacity of public servants for improved service delivery and particularly to equip managers with the necessary skills and competencies to handle new responsibilities, develop skills for a customer oriented Civil Service, improve the standards of service delivery, and adapt to new technologies and new working techniques, methods and processes
Ø The need to train public servants and to educate users of services to change their attitude towards each other and towards the public
Ø Promotion of dialogue with Civil Society Organisations (CSO’s) and Non Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) to reduce mutual suspicion and enhance partnership in Public Service delivery
Ø Mechanisms for measuring and monitoring embedded in the reforms programme/projects at the early stage of their formulation and implementation
Ø The adoption of Good Governance for the introduction of good public management and administration, with emphasis on accountability and responsiveness to customer needs
Ø Enactment, improvement and enforcement of legal instruments, code of conduct and regulations that promote ethics and accountability
Ø The introduction of Customer Charters, User Surveys and the establishment of Public Complaints Commission
Ø Introduction of incentive measures focused on accelerating the return home of the vast majority of elite and scholars who are working abroad and to attract and motivate top professionals including those with scarce skills
Ø Improvement of public and private partnerships to enhance the transfer of competitive skills between the sectors
Ø Reporting to encourage transparency and the right to information
Present Status of Public Sector Management Reforms
5.9 The 2003 PRB Report made wide ranging recommendations in respect of administrative reforms. Implementation which expectedly was rather slow in the initial years has gathered momentum lately and is likely to be more structured in the coming years. Performance Management, already embraced by some 35 organisations, would be adopted by all Ministries/Departments by December 2009 considering implications for the large Ministries. Programme Based Budgeting in the context of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework has also been mainstreamed since last year. The synergy between the two initiatives, the first spearheaded by the Ministry of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms (MCSAR) and the latter by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MOFED), is expected to gain momentum as we move in the years ahead. These two measures, properly implemented, should push the country on the forefront of developing countries embracing New Public Management.
5.10 The Audit Monitoring Committee under the aegis of the MOFED ensures the monitoring of recommendations of each Audit Committee established for Ministries and Departments. They should have already set up their Audit Committees which would significantly increase the integrity and efficiency of the system of internal control, financial reporting and the audit process.
5.11 Concurrently, to improve service delivery and customer responsiveness, counter services have been enhanced through the standardisation of criteria and procedures; the introduction of Gemba Kaizen principles; the enhancement of the physical layout of counters; the provision of uninterrupted service throughout the day; and the provision of several services online.
5.12 Ministries, Departments and Statutory Bodies (MDS) have all come up with their respective Citizen/Customer Charters undertaking to provide acceptable levels of services to their customers.
5.13 In addition, several organisations have been ISO Certified and a Public Service Quality Association has been created for regular Quality Meet. More and more organisations are annually participating in the Public Service Excellence Award.
5.14 Further, the MCSAR has developed and started a new reform initiative called “Mystery Shopping”. This initiative aims to give organisations insights into their operations with regard to customer-service related functions, identify both good practices and areas of weaknesses and use information gathered to take corrective measures to improve service delivery. Mystery Shoppers are briefed on the services that they have to assess, the purpose of the project and are provided with scenarios for roles that they have to play to gather information. The Mystery Shoppers walk in anonymously in the identified organisations and play the role of customers, collect the required data and fill in a questionnaire on the level of service. The overall information is analysed and thereafter presented in the form of a report to Management for necessary action.
5.15 The MCSAR eventually, under the Improvement of Counter and Customer Services Scheme, assists Ministries/Departments to attend to the weaknesses identified by providing financial support in improving, inter alia, the physical setting of counters and training of staff through the provision of customised practical training in counter services and customer care. The overall effectiveness of the remedial measures taken is, thereafter, assessed through “Exit Interviews” where actual real life customers having benefited from a service is called upon to evaluate the service in question as they walk out of the public organisations.
Socio-Economic and Other Reforms
5.16 The 2006/2007 Budget has set the scene for making the transition from a preference-based economic development model to one-centered on global competitiveness. To this end, Government has launched a comprehensive package of reforms to remove rigidities in the markets.
5.17 MDS are implementing reform initiatives in fields falling under their responsibility. Steered by the MOFED and the MCSAR, Ministries and Departments are introducing the Programme Based Budgeting (PBB) cast in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Performance Management System (PMS) with a view to establishing a link between financial and human resources as well as outputs and outcomes. Both systems together are expected to produce the desired results.
5.18 The Ministry of Education and Human Resources has undertaken educational reform initiatives to meet its vision of providing a World Class Education; the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life is initiating actions to provide high-tech health treatment; the Ministry of Agro Industry and Fisheries aims at giving a new boost to the agricultural sector through the development of new business avenues and provision of new opportunities to the planting, farming, and fishing communities; the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport and Shipping is fulfilling the needs of the nation in the design, construction, maintenance and repairs of roads, bridges and government buildings by ensuring the provision of functional, aesthetic and environment-friendly buildings in conformity with construction standards; the Ministry of Tourism and Leisure is targeting two million tourists by 2015, focusing on high-spending tourist segments and promoting Mauritius as the Best Island Destination; the Judicial Sector is in the process of implementing the Mackay Report for enhanced and swift delivery of justice; the Ministry of Environment and National Development Unit has embarked upon a series of projects and actions to create a safe and healthy environment; the Ministry of Housing and Lands is preparing a National Development Strategy for long term growth and physical development of the country; the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications is striving to make Mauritius a Cyber Island and an ICT leader in the region; and the Ministry of Women’s Rights, Child Development, Family Welfare and Consumer Protection is endeavouring to have a society free from violence and discrimination and where human values within the family and the civil society are cherished.
5.19 Reforms in different sectors of the economy, other than those mentioned above, have also been initiated to keep pace with developments in the ever-changing and evolving context of the New Public Management initiatives. Strategies in sectors like Arts and Culture; Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions; Industry, Small and Medium Enterprises, Commerce and Co-operatives; and Youth and Sports are being enunciated in this report under the chapters dealing with the different Ministries.
5.20 Overall, Public Sector Management Reforms also aim at supporting and sustaining the reforms initiatives undertaken by MDS at the sectoral levels.
The Challenges and Strategies
5.21 At this stage, the challenges facing the Civil Service concern Organisational Development; Process and Systems Application; Human Resource Strategies; Pay Reforms; Customer Responsiveness; Good Governance and
E-Government Services. Evidently, service delivery, value for public money and performance on the frontiers of excellence are the common links which underpin the needs for continuous reforms in these areas. While some of the challenges can be dealt with administratively, a reinforcement of the legal framework may be necessary in certain areas. In sum, the main Public Sector challenges are the need to:
(a) transform public sector organisations into modern, professional and citizen-friendly entities that are dedicated to the service of the people;
(b) strengthen public confidence and trust in Public Sector Institutions;
(c) preserve and protect the character of the Civil Service and its ability to serve successive governments with integrity and political impartiality;
(d) facilitate and accelerate the process of more and more government services going online; and
(e) induce the return home of our elite from abroad.
5.22 Appropriate strategies need to be crafted to respond to these main challenges. Given the civil service environment and the present organisation culture, the delivery on the strategies themselves has become serious challenges. The main strategies are to:
(i) come up with the necessary legislation which would clarify the role and responsibility of Ministers as distinct from those of Supervising Officers;
(ii) move from multilayered structures to flatter ones to improve accountability and facilitate decision taking while maintaining a balance between career prospects and career earnings;
(iii) ensure that organisations are manned by the most suitable persons of the right competency so that the Public Sector is staffed with the right people in the right place and in right numbers through proper recruitment and selection criteria, and opening up at appropriate levels;
(iv) provide for training and development to equip people with the right competencies and attitudes at different levels ;
(v) link pay and incentive to performance and results and strike the right balance between professional commitments and family responsibilities for a motivated work force; and
(vi) roll out PMS and PBB so that these take root for a value for public money service and excellence in service delivery.
The Way Forward
5.23 We are commenting or facilitating the process to deal with these challenges and highlighting below the general directions.
5.24 While, on the one hand, it is important to strengthen confidence in MDS, and their capacity to deliver, on the other hand, it is the responsibility of MDS to create the right environmental conditions to gain confidence and trust through the leveraging of their actions on customer responsiveness and satisfaction as these are primary concerns and central to service delivery. For the Public Service to be responsive, it is imperative for its employees to possess the required competencies, attitudes and mindset to serve selflessly, courteously, effectively and these in a timely manner. To ensure these, it is essential for the right person to be recruited, provided with the appropriate training for service delivery and be adequately and justly rewarded.
5.25 As such, it is essential for schemes of service to be revisited to state explicitly the technical and behavioural competencies as well as the kinds of mindset and attitude required; and to equip the recruiting and other Bodies with the required expertise and tools to ensure that the appropriate candidates are selected.
5.26 Thereafter and during the career of officers, training and development should be based on the acquisition and improvement of the required competencies, mindset and attitude with a view to developing their capacity for a wider range of responsibilities including developing and implementing creative strategic policies and adapting to new technologies, working techniques, systems and processes - all these for higher and higher standards of delivery for a customer-centric Civil Service.
5.27 Pay is an important factor to be reckoned with for a competent and motivated workforce. The pay policy should aim to, among others, achieve equity implying fair relativities commensurate with responsibilities; protect purchasing power to the extent possible; be competitive considering market realities; be efficient by linking pay to productivity and performance; and ensure macro-economic stability with pay as a percentage of GDP kept within acceptable limits. A reward mechanism has to be introduced to link pay to results, and to motivate organisations to anticipate, embrace and implement changes.
5.28 While suitable persons with the required competencies and attitudes are sine qua nonboth for the formulation of strategies and for service delivery, the environment, and the systems and processes used must also be appropriate as they can contribute significantly to excellence. In that regard, organisations should be designed to be “fit for purpose” with clear lines of accountability and responsibility. For this reason, we strongly view that, in the medium term, organisations should move to flatter structures to avoid responsibility being blurred. This strategy for trade off of multilayers for fewer levels with longer pay scales has merit for all parties - the service itself, employees as well as management.
5.29 In general, wherever desirable, silos need to be dismantled and other cadres/
grades be restructured by polyvalent ones to facilitate team working, mobility, transferability, interchangeability and greater flexibility to ensure that available resources are gainfully utilised.
5.30 The concept of multi-skilling has to be introduced in certain areas. Polyvalent grades need be created to allow employees/officers to perform a wide set of duties, wherever desirable and possible.
5.31 As a further motivating element, existing policies need to be revisited to allow the introduction of new patterns of work like homeworking and part-time working; choices/options need be provided to employees in terms of certain conditions of service like duty free car or allowance in lieu thereof.
5.32 The Performance Management System and Programme Based Budgeting need to be further mainstreamed so that both reinforce and support each other with their common focus on improving performance, transparency, accountability and the efficient achievement of planned results.
5.33 To preserve and protect the character of the Civil Service and its ability to serve successive Governments with integrity and impartiality, it would be advisable for Government to come up with a Public Service Act that would aim at clarifying and securing the boundaries within the Executive and enhance and entrench the fundamental values of the Public Service. A Public Service Act can bring further clarity of definition and would reinforce transparency, impartiality and accountability which are necessary for the efficient delivery of sound public services and for sustaining trust in public institutions. The Bureau is aware that discussions are underway on the contents of the first draft of the
Public Service Bill.
5.34 To reinforce public confidence and trust in public sector institutions, including the Public Service Commission, Government is establishing a Public Bodies Appeal Tribunal to allow aggrieved employees to make appeals; and to take measures to encourage transparency and the right to information. It is also envisaged to set up an independent Police Complaints Commission. To further increase public trust, a system needs be designed to ensure strict compliance with process by recruiting Bodies.
5.35 Monitoring and evaluation need to be integrated in the reform process to ensure that organisations do meet new circumstances and challenges and in that regard, the dearth of capability has to be bridged to achieve the goals spelt out.
5.36 Chief Executives of MDS need to be further empowered in the context of the New Public Sector Management initiatives.
5.37 We have set the directions to deal with the challenges facing the Civil Service and the strategies to respond to these challenges in the foregoing paragraphs as well as in the relevant sections and chapters of this Report. We believe that the new corporate culture and eventual change in mindset that would emerge in the wake of the reform process should judiciously transform bureaucratic impediments for clearer accountability, constant change and improvement and for services to be provided effectively with competency, commitment, courtesy, speed and integrity. We are, hereunder, making recommendations to reinforce the institutional machinery to catalyse the reform process and highlighting those recommendations on customer responsiveness and other recommendations that are not being dealt with elsewhere in this Report.
5.38 We recommend the maintenance of the Public Sector Reforms Steering Committee (PSRSC) under the chairmanship of the Secretary to Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service and comprising, among others, Senior Public Officers and such representatives of Staff Associations as may be co-opted and having the desired attitude and mindset, with the following modified terms of reference:
(i) To be the apex body responsible for steering, monitoring and coordinating reform initiatives in the Public Sector.
(ii) To spearhead reform strategies for the modernisation of the Public Sector with emphasis on the use of new technologies and optimum utilisation of human resources through sound industrial relations and social dialogue.
(iii) To establish mechanisms to sustain and evaluate reform initiatives, both through internal assessments and through feedback from customers.
(iv) To rationalise and streamline activities within and among public sector organisations with a view to improving quality of services and ensuring greater accountability and transparency.
(v) To adopt and monitor measures aimed at strengthening capacity for responsive and results-oriented public management so as to efficiently and effectively meet national and global challenges.
(vi) To promote ethical standards and public service values as embodied in the “Code of Ethics for Public Officers”.
(vii) To nurture an attitude of service excellence in meeting the needs of the public with high standards of quality, courtesy and responsiveness.
(viii) To foster an environment which induces and welcomes continuous change for greater efficiency and effectiveness.
(ix) To advise Government on issues of public importance e.g. institutional machinery to improve public trust or the types of desirable competencies that members of Recruiting Bodies or Board Directors need to possess.
5.39 We also recommend that the PSRSC initiates action for vast consultations and for receiving stakeholders’ input on issues of public importance and takes action to create the desired trust and confidence in our institutions and systems.
5.40 We recommend that the MCSAR should continue to (a) spearhead, implement and monitor reform initiatives approved by the PSRSC and programmes targeting customer satisfaction and desirable employee behaviour; and (b) implement the “Mystery Shopping” Project in selected organisations and encourage other organisations to emulate this new reform initiative.
5.41 We recommend the setting up of an Implementing and Monitoring Committee under the chairmanship of the MCSAR and comprising, among others, selected members and Desk Officers conversant with reform practices to:
(i) ensure the implementation of New Public Sector Management Reforms and the sustainability of reforms already undertaken;
(ii) facilitate and ensure the implementation of reform initiatives approved by the authorities;
(iii) monitor and evaluate the reform initiatives and tender advice on corrective actions; and
(iv) act as a liaison/desk between Ministries/Departments and PSRSC.
5.42 We recommend that Ministries, Departments and Statutory Bodies should:
(i) strengthen confidence in their organisations and create the right environmental conditions to earn citizens’ trust through leveraging their actions on customer responsiveness and satisfaction;
(ii) facilitate knowledge acquisition, through the application of information technology and information/education/communication, of their respective activities and invite regular feedbacks from citizens to shape their strategies and actions;
(iii) make arrangements for the provision of uninterrupted Counter Services having regard to the drivers and determinants of customer satisfaction, namely: (a) timeliness in the provision of services;
(b) competency of staff in delivery; (c) effectiveness of services delivered; (d) fairness during process; and (e) courteousness while going the extra mile;
(iv) in order to sustain the momentum of reforms, review their own Reforms Units and ensure that Desk Officers coordinating reform initiatives between the MCSAR and their organisations are provided with necessary support from top management and other colleagues for the timely implementation and follow-up of the different reform initiatives;
(v) establish mechanisms to sustain and evaluate reform initiatives that are being implemented while ensuring that (a) the participation and involvement of all stakeholders are sought; (b) funds are made available for the initiatives; and (c) regular assessments are carried out and the outcome of assessments and proposed corrective measures are reported to the Implementing and Monitoring Committee, as and when required; and
(vi) carry out surveys to assess client satisfaction under each of the main drivers of satisfaction at (iii) above and use the information obtained to channel service improvement strategies.
5.43 We further recommend that all public sector employees should (a) internalise the values associated with each of the determinants of satisfaction at paragraph 5.42 (iii) and adopt the desirable behaviours required; (b) do the utmost to be knowledgeable and competent at the level they are employed; (c) be courteous and prepared to go the extra mile in their interaction with their customers – be they colleagues, external clients, supervisors or subordinates; (d) carry out a self audit regularly on their achievement under each of the drivers of satisfaction; and (e) make every effort possible to excel on each of the drivers to delight all stakeholders concerned, be they internal or external.