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JIS News

As part of its efforts to address the perception of growing corruption within the Public Sector, and the need to have in place appropriate mechanisms to guide Public Servants about appropriate conduct, the Government is moving to further accelerate initiatives under its ‘Creation of an Ethical Infrastructure in Government’ programme.
The 2002 Ministry Paper on Public Sector Reform, entitled ‘Government at your Service’, spoke to the need for a Public Service, “in which every public servant thinks and acts in the best interest of Jamaica and its citizens with honesty, and objectivity, taking decisions that are transparent and for which the officer is accountable.”
“It is within this context that the Creation of an Ethical Infrastructure in Government programme began,” Senior Policy and Project Officer at the Cabinet Office and Co-ordinator of the programme, Ryan Evans, tells JIS News.
Mr. Evans explains that the programme, since its commencement, has resulted in the appointment of over 90 Ethics Officers within the Public Sector.
“Of the 90 appointed Officers, 63 have thus far been trained, through a collaborative effort between the Cabinet Office and the Management Institute for National Development (MIND). The intention is to further accelerate the training programme until all appointed Ethics Officers have been trained within the Public Sector,” he says. Plans are also in place to commence another round of training next month (March).
He points out that Ethics Officers “will, by example, lead the process of building awareness and sensitising public sector staff on the issue of ethics and accountability and its applicability and relevance to public servants.”
“The draft Terms of Reference document for the Officers also speaks to them being responsible for supervising the implementation of an Ethics and Values framework within their respective organisation, and to guide public servants on the processes to be followed when dealing with matters of ethics and integrity,” Mr. Evans notes.
He explains that it is the mandate of the Ethics Officer to facilitate the internalisation amongst public servants, the seven public service principles as articulated in Ministry Paper Number 56 (Jamaica’s White Paper on Public Sector); those principles being: selflessness, honesty, accountability, objectivity, integrity, leadership and openness.
Mr. Evans also informs that an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Ethics in Government was also formed out of a recommendation from the Permanent Secretaries Board Retreat of October, 2006.
“The Committee is a Sub-committee of the Permanent Secretaries Board and comprises five Permanent Secretaries, chosen by the Permanent Secretaries Board, the Chief Personnel Officer of the Office of the Services Commissions, and the Solicitor General as Chair of the Committee, with Technical Support to the Committee being provided by the Senior Policy and Project Officer from the Cabinet Office,” he adds.
Mr. Evans says the Committee was formally empanelled on October 6, 2006 and since that time, it has met and deliberated on a number of matters.
Some of the functions of the Inter-Ministerial Committee include investigating ethics complaints and providing advice on ethical matters; and reviewing and resolving all matters of concern presented to it by Ethics Officers, Ethics Committees and any other officer or body, such as the Permanent Secretaries Board.
Other functions include recommending administrative actions to establish or enforce standards of official conduct; rendering advisory opinions regarding the ethical propriety of any current or proposed conduct of a member, officer, or employee, and issuing general guidance on such matters as necessary; recommending new laws, rules, and programmes that will lead to ethics compliance; and providing guidance to Ethics Officers should they have concerns in the interpretation of cases.
Future plans for the programme include the launch of a Jamaica Public Sector Code of Ethics, which will draw on the Jamaica Public Sector Staff Orders.
Mr. Evans is urging Public Sector organisations that have not yet appointed Ethics Officers, to so do, and to liaise with his office on matters relating to this most important initiative.