17 May 2014

Kenya: Radical Shift in Public Service Operations - Waiguru

Nairobi — The public service is set to undergo radical transformation to adopt a private sector management system of operation, to boost efficiency and service delivery.

According to a policy document on decentralisation of human resources in the civil service, the new model requires a complete review of human resource practices in public offices.

"The broad objective is to decentralise the human resource management in the civil service to ensure effectiveness and efficiency in service delivery, enhance transparency and accountability and reduce bureaucracy," Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary Ann Waiguru noted.

Public officers will now be engaged on contract starting with those in senior positions and be promoted according to level of performance. In the previous human resource organisation, public officers were promoted based on their years of service.

This was irrespective of their level of performance in previous positions.

The new HR plan will ensure that officers are held accountable based on their work.

In case of a transfer, a public officer will now have to undergo an interview before getting a job in a different ministry.

Previously, public officers would automatically be transferred from one office to another without any form of vetting but upon consultation between Cabinet Secretaries concerned.

"The reform is expected to provide mechanisms for ensuring movement of people and therefore skills, between and within the various levels of government," Waiguru explained.

In the previous set up, Cabinet Secretaries had no direct authority in firing employees or holding them accountable for any form of violations in the line of their jobs.

The new policy now gives power to the Cabinet Secretary to be directly in control of people working in his/her ministry.

The new model will also be seeking to protect officers from unfair treatment, encourage mobility within and across ministries.

According to Waiguru, the government came up with the policy over concerns of 'increased inefficiency, unethical behaviour and patronage.'

A bureaucratic model of management identified as the commonest hindrance to efficiency and delivery of services in public offices is also addressed in the new HR policy.

The policy is further expected to streamline the dual reporting which has been the norm in public offices.

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