Transformation of Public Sector to Present Opportunities

Photo: Michael Sloley Executive Director, Transformation Implementation Unit, Office of the Prime Minister, Maria Thompson-Walters (at podium), addresses participants in a recent forum on public-sector transformation, hosted by the Management Institute for National Development (MIND), at its Kingston campus.

Story Highlights

  • As the Government advances plans for the transformation of the public sector, civil servants will be given the opportunity to upgrade their skills to be suitably qualified for the new jobs that will accrue from the streamlining exercise.
  • This is according to Executive Director, Transformation Implementation Unit, Office of the Prime Minister, Maria Thompson-Walters, who informs that “new jobs that never existed before are going to emerge in the public sector”, as a result of the anticipated changes to occur with HR transformation.
  • Mrs. Thompson-Walters tells JIS News that the public-sector transformation effort, which is ongoing for 30 years, has been given renewed emphasis with Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ commitment to providing the leadership required for the success of the programme.

As the Government advances plans for the transformation of the public sector, civil servants will be given the opportunity to upgrade their skills to be suitably qualified for the new jobs that will accrue from the streamlining exercise.

Many of the new jobs will come from applying the new concept of shared services to the Government’s ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). One such shared service is the human resource (HR) function.

This is according to Executive Director, Transformation Implementation Unit, Office of the Prime Minister, Maria Thompson-Walters, who informs that “new jobs that never existed before are going to emerge in the public sector”, as a result of the anticipated changes to occur with HR transformation.

Mrs. Thompson-Walters was speaking at a recent forum on public-sector transformation, hosted by the Management Institute for National Development (MIND) at its Kingston campus.

Highlighting some of the new roles that will be created from the centralisation of HR functions, the Executive Director points to the position of Reporting Analyst, which deals with data that resides in shared services.

This individual will provide information about employees, such as man hours lost, days’ entitlement, and how many persons are employed to particular MDAs. This information will assist managers to prepare their reports.

There is also the position of Shared Services Associate, who will be responsible for manning a “help desk” for employees.

Mrs. Thompson-Walters further points to the specialised roles of HR Business Partner; Client Service Officer; and Client Services Manager that could also emerge.

The Executive Director notes that the transformation team will seek to partner with MIND, along with other institutions, in order to provide opportunities for the upskilling of public officers, “which we believe is very important in any transformation”.

Mrs. Thompson-Walters points out that the concept of shared services is a new area that the public service must embrace in order to increase efficiency of service delivery. She notes that the idea is to build out the shared corporate services model that was identified in the Master Rationalisation Plan that was formulated in 2011.

The Plan contains recommendations for the restructuring of MDAs.

“It’s a simple model that says those activities that can be shared and then offered back to MDAs should be shared in a single organisation. HR fits neatly in that concept where you have a single entity providing HR services,’ Mrs. Thompson-Walters explains.

She says that adopting this concept, which is now only being used by three corporate entities in the country, does not translate into closing HR departments in the ministries.

“What it does mean, is that in those departments, HR functions will change significantly, and will be focused more on planning – workforce planning, succession planning – and assisting with the strategic direction, making sure that the Ministry has the manpower to carry out its functions effectively,” she adds.

As set out in the Master Rationalisation Plan, the concept will also apply to other areas within the public sector, including legal services; procurement; internal audit; finance and accounts; public relations and communications; and information and communications technology (ICT) services.

The implementation of this concept is one of the priority areas that were identified for immediate action under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies agreement signed in October last year.

Other priorities now being undertaken under this renewed public-sector transformation thrust include a complete review of the classification of all existing public bodies, consistent with the public financial-management rules. This is with a view to divest some entities; merge entities where greater economies of scale can be achieved; wind up overlapping or inactive entities and outsource functions that can be better performed by the private sector.

The transformation team is also looking at wage bill management, public-sector efficiency, and implementation of shared corporate services.

Mrs. Thompson-Walters tells JIS News that the public-sector transformation effort, which is ongoing for 30 years, has been given renewed emphasis with Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ commitment to providing the leadership required for the success of the programme.

It was at the behest of Mr. Holness that the Public Sector Transformation Implementation Team was put in place, which has overall responsibility for coordinating all transformation activities in MDAs.

In addition, a Public Sector Oversight Committee was established to monitor and report on the transformation process.

Delivering a policy statement on the transformation process at the Office of the Prime Minister in January, Mr. Holness noted that public-sector transformation would be based on focused reform with measurable outcomes that would unfold in many phases, with necessary consultations with stakeholders.

The Prime Minister said the transformation process would result in greater levels of efficiency and more support of the private sector, which would redound in economic growth.

“There is an inextricable connection between the efficiency of the public sector and the efficiency of the private sector. They both need each other to thrive. The process that we are envisioning is that the private sector will become the engine of economic growth and job creation and will absorb from the public sector as many relevant skills as possible,” he said.

The Government’s vision for a transformed public sector is one that is dynamic, innovative and responsive to the needs of citizens and businesses.

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