Before President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took office in 2006, if anyone had sought views on the state of the Liberian civil service they would have gotten frosty replies as the system was for the longest embroiled in shackles of disdain and distasteful to attract professionals.
With a morale dragged in the mud, the task to reform the service took the front burner of the Liberian leader’s priorities at the first quarter of her administration. By this time, the Thespian taste buds of a once enviable service have dried up and need to reform the civil service to get on par with its counterparts could not be overemphasized.
More than a decade since the introduction of reform measures, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2005 had to take a dive into her reservoir of professionals and pick a seasoned reformer in Dr. Puchu Leona Bernard, former Deputy Director General for human resource management and policy to continue the process.
The extensive administrator, with fiscal and legal experience having worked for many years in private enterprise, humanitarian services and public sector has made significant progress in the Public Sector Modernization Project (PSMP) that aims at restructuring and right sizing; pay and pension reform; managing human resources; developing leadership and gender equity in the Civil Service.
Her audacity to dare along with experience in government ranging from Assistant Minister for Revenues at the Ministry of Finance, Deputy Director General for Human Resources Management, wealth of experience working as a consultant, educator, and manager at corporations in Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and the United States, has set the CSA on an irreversible path to regain the trust and confidence of the Liberian people.
In a conversation with the CSA Magazine, the workaholic Director-General said she had envisioned a more professional Civil Service that attracts the best minds and outputs to in an effort to help better the lives of the Liberian people.
Cataloging her achievement since taking the helms at CSA Dr. Bernard said “we have seen so many changes not only in infrastructure, but policy, capacity building of people especially here at the Civil Service Agency we encourage our people to learn. We do have capacity building and we have a CSA directory with a department in charge”.
“So far, we have done a pay strategy which was our first deliverable in the Disbursement Link Indicators (DLI) and we have completed the “One employee one file” to ensure that files of every employee are completed with their diplomas, picture, letter of employment, job description and all that is needed and this was done across the counties,” she indicated.
She indicated “our team has just returned from the counties under the performance management assessment that included the training of supervisors and human resource people in the counties so that they can know how to assess the employees they supervise. No longer, when someone leaves one position the next person in line takes over immediate it is strictly based on your performance. If you have done the job properly and based on your performance assessment which is documented then you can get a chance to move up.”
“If there is a vacancy, we advertise it and do merits based recruitment so that the best person suited to that position will get it. At the same time we are exerting every effort to build the capacity of employees and we also depend on Liberia Institute of Public Administration (LIPA) for that because they often have workshops and capacity building courses,” she stated.
She added “we have prepared 3,500 (three thousand five hundred) job descriptions which is never heard before so that every Civil Service Institution now has their job description for all their positions. And we are alerted if there are new positions. We also have the service charter and this ensures that we are in the know about what each department can do to serve the public better.”