Imagine a Civil Service embroiled with prolonged civil conflict and a ruined merit based system; a system that ignores standards and is largely based on patronage and largesse recruited mostly unqualified individuals. Sadly, no attempt to stretch the truth (euphemism for lying) here, this has been the Liberian public service story prior to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2006.
But in a relatively short period (2006 to now), the tale has changed and the Liberian Civil Service is well on course with an earth-shattering reform agenda that endeavors to rebrand the once crushed service.
“Upon assuming office, the President immediately realized that there was an immediate need to undertake measures to transform the Civil Service. The President, the Director General of the Civil Service Agency along with international partners worked collaboratively to introduce mechanisms to improve the Civil Service,” Hon. Wanneh Clarke-Reeves, Civil Service Agency’s Deputy Director-General for Human Resource & Policy told a news conference in Monrovia.
As a result, she said the Civil Service Reform Strategy was developed in 2008 to address the concerns of Government and served as the principle thrust for guiding the reform agenda.
Howbeit, the rather robust reform process focuses on six components including Restructuring & Right Sizing, Pay and Pension Reforms, Improving Service Delivery, Human Resource Management, Leadership Development, and Gender Equity.
To begin with, a Medium Term Pay Strategy to inform civil servants pay reform was developed and in 2013, the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning (MFDP) relinquished control of the management of the Civil Service Payroll to the Civil Service Agency (CSA) and control mechanisms were instituted to reduce the number of persons having access to the payroll to a select few;
Through the payroll vetting processes since 2006 up until 2017, CSA has reduced the civil service payroll strength from more than 75,000 to less than 48,000 thereby, reducing the fiscal burden on our National Budget. And worked in conjunction with the USAID-GEMS, to grade and classify over 3000 jobs in the civil service.
The system is been boosted with the arrival of the state-of-the-biometric equipment for printing of Identification cards (I.D). Currently, new biometric ID cards, with additional security features, are been issued to civil servants. And 4,936 civil servants have received their biometric ID cards and more than 10,000 civil servants are biometrically enrolled.
The CSA Team embarked on the development of Job Descriptions for 3500 positions in the civil service with support from USAID GEMS; and in 2012, a performance management guide was developed and awareness rollout in 2015.
A merit based system was developed which amongst others sought to guide recruitment and selection in the civil service.
Additionally, a Human Resource Policy Manual for Ministries, Agencies, and Commissions (MACs) was developed in 2014 in collaboration with partners including USAID. In 2012, standing orders were developed outlining rules and regulations of the Civil Service as well as providing guidance to the Civil Service towards the implementation of those regulations
In the same vein of support from USAID-GEMS, and in an effort to strengthen its own capacity to reform, a Performance Assessment of the CSA, as well as staff performance was conducted.
The Service Delivery Charter was developed to enhance the visibility of the functions of the CSA to its clients. The Charter basically informs all civil servants including the general public about the CSA’s operations.
In 2012, the Government of Liberia absorbed the TOKTEN professionals in the Civil Service, while some of the SES professionals were absorbed in 2014;
77 of the President’s Young Professionals (PYP) have been absorbed into the Civil Service and 120 PYPs have been recruited in the Civil Service.
In 2015, the Civil Service Agency in collaboration with the Governance Commission (GC) and the Liberia Institute of Public Administration (LIPA) launched the ongoing Public Sector Modernization Project (PSMP).
During the period of 2014-2015, the CSA and its tripartite partners implemented the Civil Service Reform Project (CSRP).
The Civil Service Reform Strategy (CSRS) is now being implemented; The Civil Service Agency in collaboration with FHI360, an International Consortium cleanup to reform the Ministry of Education Central Office. This exercise drastically reduced the congestion of staff from 900 to less than 300.
Additionally, the CSA worked actively with the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Finance in 2014 towards the closure of both ministries and the establishment of the restructured institution, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP).
The CSA also worked in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender to restructure the institution to the Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Protection.
In 2015, the CSA worked with the Ministry of the National Security (MNS) and the Legislators for the closure of the (MNS). More than 100 employees were transferred to the LNP, LIS, EPS, or MOJ.
Currently, over 300 Liberian students have been enrolled in bilateral scholarships program in various disciplines in 20 countries. The Civil Service Agency in collaboration with Liberia Institute for Public Administration (LIPA) has conducted several training programs in “Women In Leadership”, Transformative Leadership, Performance Management, etc.