• Tue. Aug 9th, 2022

Reformed Civil Service Commission: Comparative Lessons for Nigeria – By: . .

ByChad J. Johnson

Dec 21, 2021

By Professor Tunji Olaopa

AAround the world, the civil service has seen huge institutional reforms that aim to bring it up to speed in terms of modernizing its regulations, processes, infrastructure and functioning. This is to the extent that it could be updated in its attempt to achieve democratic service delivery to citizens.

Modernizing the civil service takes on added importance on the African continent and particularly with states like Nigeria still struggling to make development and governance conducive to transforming the lives of citizens. In most of these states, the civil service still applies the Weberian bureaucratic system and culture which is far from optimal in terms of performance and productivity. But much more than that, the modernization of the public service concerns the whole effort to restore and enhance its vocation.

So with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and especially the changing character of work across the globe, the public service has the opportunity to save itself and its age-old importance as the human face of the state to impact significant in its effectiveness and effective intervention in the welfare and welfare of the people of a state.

The professionalization and efficiency of the public service immediately imply the capacity of the public service commissions, guardians of civility and the professionalism of the public service, to be more effective in their mission of guardianship. The Civil Service Commission (CSC) regulates recruitment and appointment on the basis of a meritocratic principle which ensures that the government and the civil service have the best candidates capable of functioning effectively. As an agency established by legislative approval, the CSC is vested with the constitutional power to regulate the terms and conditions of employment and service of public servants. In Nigeria, the importance and role of the Public Service Commission becomes fundamental not only as the guardian of the values, ethics and professionalism of the public service, but more so as a strategic framework that harnesses and strengthens existing professional and administrative capacities, skills and competences. -final expertise of the Office of the Head of Service (OHCS), the establishment, the manpower development institutes (MDI) and the pension funds to implement the dynamics of institutional reform which is at the very heart of the government’s change agenda. And this implies that the CSC is also a candidate for reform itself. In other words, to be able to implement the institutional reform that would transform the civil service, the CSC must allow itself to be transformed by the dynamics of reform.

An important way to carry out the reform is to facilitate the learning and sharing of best practices around the world that speak to the modernization of CSC in constitutional, structural and institutional terms, and to adopt and adapt them to the particular administrative context of Nigeria. And these best practices aren’t too strange because they were developed within the common framework of Commonwealth administrative practice and its model of British colonial administrative heritage. How have other countries struggling with development and the modern impulse responded to the urgent need to transform public service to optimum efficiency through CCS reform?

The first insight derives from the UK’s reform experience and the independence of its CSC from UK government influence. To be able to assume its responsibility as an intermediary between the government and the public service, the CSC must be underpinned by the values ​​of transparency, integrity, objectivity and impartiality. And these would be compromised when CSC regulatory activities are overseen by the government itself or are managed with less than a professionalized CSC secretariat. The Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 established the UKCSC on a statutory basis to be independent of both government and the civil service. On the contrary, the experience of CSCs in Nigeria calls into question the importance of such independence in a way that seems contrary to the provision of Section 158(1) of the Nigerian Constitution.

In order to be able to discharge its access control responsibilities in a transparent manner, the federal CSC in particular must define an institutional relationship with other public institutions, in particular the National Assembly, the ministries, the OHCSF and the CSC of state. These relationships are fundamental solely for reasons of institutional accountability. In other words, the proper regulation of the civil service also depends on how the FCSC is able to establish relationships with related institutions and structures involved in the efficient and better functioning of the civil service. The Iraqi and Australian CSC prepare annual reports for their parliaments to review, debate and draft resolutions for the implementation of FCSC recommendations. And although it reports to parliament, the Iraqi CSC, like that of the United Kingdom, is financially and administratively independent. Unlike the Iraqi and Australian FCSC, the Nigerian FCSC is still hampered by constitutional constraints that lock its functioning into certain administrative rigidities without proper modeling of FCSC-OHCSF-MDA strategic HR policy and governance sharing responsibilities and accountability. commitment to enable the overall performance of a state of development

As part of its Civil Service Reform Program (1987-1993), the Ghanaian Civil Service Commission introduced a Performance Appraisal System (PES) in 1992 and a Performance Agreement System (PAS) in 1997. The PES and SAP became necessary amidst the deficiency of past annual reports and financial audits which were rife with abuse of credibility that undermined genuine assessments. In 2012, and still as part of its ongoing efforts to learn from administrative shortcomings and mistakes and track efficiency curves, the Ghana Public Service Commission, in collaboration with stakeholders and the Australian Public Service Commission , has developed a performance management policy for the Ghana Public Service. This policy aims to provide a more inclusive and objective instrument that deploys rewards and sanctions for achieving performance management and monitoring. This Ghanaian innovation speaks to the crucial relationship between the CSC and other nodes in the architecture, governance and policy dynamics of human resource management in the public service.

Although the FCSC has a Human Resource Management Department, divided into two divisions – Appointment, Promotion and Discipline (APD) and Staff Welfare and Training, the main mandate of the Commission is still locked in the old tradition of staff management. The example of the Public Service Commission of Ghana, for example, demonstrates the need for proactive political intelligence on the part of the FCSC which is not limited to a mere advisory role in the recruitment, training, transfer and discipline of officials. This implies that a creative policy such as the performance management policy will encompass comprehensive guidelines, statements and manuals (rather than piecemeal circulars and memos) that address and standardize rules and regulations regarding rights, discipline, time off, training, performance, etc.

IPPIS is a uniquely dynamic HR backend that happily fulfills the FCSC’s aspiration for transparency and integrity in public service. However, beyond the programmatic framework of the system, the IPPIS needs to be integrated into a broader audit of human resources that encompasses the whole of the public service in assessments of workload, skills and gaps.

The Federal Civil Service Commission of Nigeria has come a long way in its objective of overseeing the professional integrity of the civil service in Nigeria. However, he still has a long way to go in terms of adapting to global and regional best practices that will better position him to salvage the lost glory of public service in Nigeria.

Olaopa works at the National Institute for Policy & Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos.