For the most part, Liberia’s appalling public resource management was largely attributed to a dysfunctional civil service. And so, upon taking office in January 2018, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led government has endeavored to leave no stone unturned in re-imaging the Civil Service Agency (CSA), and the CSA has picked a seasoned reformer in Laurine Wede Johnson to lead the change.
Ms. Johnson has since hit the ground running with an ambitious reform agenda that places premium on decentralization, innovation, trainings and collaboration with relevant partners for the overall growth of the Agency.
“My focus is on decentralization, training for Ministries, Agencies and Commissions (MACs) to ensure information of the payroll process, pension and services that benefit all civil servants. And those Civil Servants across the country benefit from all the services by establishing CSA offices in all counties”, she sounded in an interview at her office in Monrovia.
She noted “funding is not available now. We are looking at innovative ways in trying to make things work. So we had an agreement with the Minister of Internal Affairs (MIA) and approached the idea of allocating an office space at the County Administrative Buildings for the Civil Service Agency”.
As you know, she stated “the CSA budget is restricted to around US$2M and we looking for additional $3M to make it $5M and we do not know if that will happen so we have to be innovative and reinvent ourselves and be relevant in seeing how we can move to the next level”.
“I bring innovative ideas to mobilize employees and stakeholders to think outside the box and see how we can make the CSA relevant once again. Over the years, the Civil Service has been challenged in terms of reaching out.
“There can be no genuine Civil Service Reform without Decentralization. Civil service reform is usually a supporting strategy for more general decentralization in government operations and service delivery. One does not decentralize the civil service as an end in itself -- one does so in order to provide services better, manage resources more efficiently, and support other general outcome goals...
The Civil Service is one of the main instruments with which the Government fulfills its obligations. In the context of decentralization, the Government’s PRO POOR AGNDA would only be achieved and benefits every citizen, if the Service is decentralized in order to perform a new set of duties efficiently, equitably, and effectively.
So, my focus is to really tap into the reform where we talk about pay benefits, returning civil service as the center piece to deal with employees issues like transfers, promotions, pay issues, ghost names amongst others”, the CSA Boss mentioned.
In view of the government’s pro poor agenda, she promised her administration’s commitment to work dead hard to ensure Civil Servants welfare are catered to and ensure they get paid on time and satisfied.
“Another focus for me is the decentralization process. We want to ensure that people in the counties have access to their Personnel Action Forms and ensure internet and satellite access to make biometric and other services readily available for everyone”, she said.
She outlined “in the short term, we will visit our regional offices to access the prospects and challenges. And the medium is working with Internal Affairs and long term we may set up the first satellite office in a year’s time. And when we get more support we can apply same to other sub offices”.