20 August 2009

Kenya: Prime Minister's Strategic Plan Proposes Civil Service Shake-Up

An overhaul of the top structure of the public service could be in the offing under a new strategic plan unveiled Wednesday to make the prime minister's office effective in its role of co-ordinating and supervising other ministries.

Under the new structure the permanent secretary in the prime minister's office, presently Mohamed Isahakia, would be at the same rank with the head of the Civil Service, a position held by Mr Francis Muthaura.

The change is one of the key highlights in the first strategic plan drawn for the prime minister's office and unveiled yesterday by President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

The plan argues that the PS in the prime minister's office would not effectively discharge duties while at the same rank with the chief executives of other ministries. The elevated portfolio would then be supported by six departments headed by senior officials at the secretary or director level.

The six departments are policy coordination, public service coordination and Efficiency Monitoring. Others are inspectorate of state corporations, operations unit and administrative support services department.

"We are not creating new institutions. We intend to use the existing ones to achieve what can be done constitutionally," said Mr Odinga.

Planning minister, Mr Wycliffe Oparanya, said the government is in the process of reviewing strategic plans of all the 40 ministries to harmonising their policies.

"We have already received strategic plans from 8 ministries, 30 parastatal and local authorities and the impression we are getting is that we still have a lot of duplication in various departments implementing vision 2030," he said.

Generally, the strategic plan seeks to inject professionalism, ethics and accountability in the public service delivery system over the next three years.

The blueprint launched seeks to address the dysfunction in the coalition governments that has at times left its departments working at cross purposes.

"This plan will yield the most efficient and responsive public service because it has been built with ideas and funds contributed by our development partners and the private sector," said Mr Odinga.

Enhancing the efficiency of the public service could significantly improve the country's rating in the eyes of multilateral lenders and international investors.

The private sector's perception of how a government discharges its core obligations to its citizens is what the World Bank relies on to prepare its annual global competitiveness report that have consistently ranked Kenya poorly.

Such perception normally revolves around the provision of affordable infrastructure and ability to enforce laws against corruption, crime and intellectual property thefts.

In Kenya, lack of official opposition in parliament and mistrust within the governing coalition has largely left the prime minister's role of coordinating and supervising government functions in limbo.

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