CSA Clarifies Circular on PANs and the Regularization of 40,000 Civil Servants

Robert Serge Saint-Pé & Dioda Wreh-Seekey

Amidst a throng of journalists at the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism (MICAT), Charles Gbenyon Conference Hall, the Director-General (DG) of the Civil Service Agency (CSA), Hon. Josiah F. Joekai, Jr., took to the podium on April 4, 2024, to address the media regarding the freeze on direct replacement and to clarify the Personnel Action Notices (PANs) status of forty (40,000) unregularized civil servants.

Prior to the press conference, the CSA shared a circular intended to address the absence or incompleteness of civil servants’ PANs, but the information took an unexpected turn as many corners started to speculate that the new CSA boss is trying to witch-hunt civil servants who were served contracts during the previous governmental administration.

As a means to clear the air, the Director-General emphasizes that the circular issued is intended to address the absence and incompleteness of PANs, which causes far-reaching consequences for both individuals and the overall efficiency of government operations. The Personnel Action Notice is the employment instrument the Civil Service Agency uses to hire, promote, replace, and/or transfer a civil servant. These notices are essential documents that outline the employment status, responsibilities, and benefits of individual civil servants.

In his press briefing statement, Hon. Joekai stated, “We have identified approximately nineteen thousand six hundred (19,600) civil servants across various government spending entities who were put on the government’s centralized payroll in 2019 and do not have PANs. Similarly, an estimated twenty thousand four hundred five (20,405) employees possess incomplete PANs from payroll activities from 2019, giving us forty thousand four hundred five (40,405) individuals on the payroll whose statuses are not regularized’’.

The Civil Service Agency has also recorded twenty-seven (27) direct replacements in December 2023, which primarily include instances where existing employees departed from their roles for reasons such as death, resignation, or transfer to other areas of work. To ensure continuity and efficiency in operations, spending entities can replace these departing individuals with candidates possessing the requisite skills and expertise at the same salary as the departing employees. The direct replacement processes were executed through the official CSA email chain and PANs, as the law requires.

In his pivotal announcement, the CSA boss disclosed that the situation has significantly incapacitated the public service, weakening performance and productivity. Adding that, “This critical national issue requires urgent and immediate attention, and the CSA is on course with ongoing civil service reform efforts to address these critical national issues,” Hon. Joekai.

At the same time, the Director-General requested that all heads of government spending entities ensure that employees who were added to the payroll during the period of July 2019 to December 2023, “and whose status has not been regularized by the Civil Service Agency, work with their respective human resource directors to proceed to the Agency and have their PANs properly processed within a period of ninety (90) days, beginning April 2, 2024 to June 30, 2024. The spending entities must provide a comprehensive personnel listing as a prerequisite to processing each employee’s PAN.

In furtherance, Hon. Joekai has announced the following actions taken so far by the CSA as part of the ongoing payroll clean-up process:

Sixteen (16) employees were processed through reinstatement from the 103 government spending entities. Reinstatement typically involves returning employees from serving a suspension for abandonment, political leave, and issues of insubordination and attendance. After being blocked by the CSA, the concerned spending entity will request that the offending employee be reinstated and removed from “blocked” after the punishment period expires. This action is directly communicated to the CSA through a formal communication addressed to the Director-General.

In December 2023, fifteen (15) new hires were made to violate former President George M. Weah’s Presidential Directive of December 18, 2023, about not hiring personnel during the transitional period. The new hires were primarily from the Liberia Land Authority (LLA), formerly the Ministry of Land and Mines, and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP). The new hires were also employed through emails requested by the LLA and MFDP. Also, forty-one (41) individuals representing ghost names who were illegally on the Liberia Land Authority payroll have been blocked and removed from the institution’s payroll.

Consequently, eight (8) of the employees are from the LLA and are now blocked and removed from the government’s payroll. Unfortunately, the remaining seven (7) from the MFDP were already approved and are on payroll, meaning they will be blocked as of April 2024 and subsequently removed from the payroll.

Meanwhile, Hon. Joekai stated that lifting the freeze will only be for direct replacements, while the freeze on new hires and transfers will be lifted after the General Auditing Commission (GAC) conducts the Payroll Compliance Audit, which will be announced shortly.

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