The Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Presidential Affairs met with officials of the Public Sector Reform Unit (PSRU) on Wednesday 23 June to abreast themselves with activities of the department, as part of their oversight responsibilities on the Ministries, Department and Agencies under their purview.
The Honourable Patrick Kargbo, who chaired the meeting, says as parliamentarians, their duties are not only restricted to enacting laws but also to ensure that these laws are implemented by performing oversight duties as part of their monitoring mechanisms to get government activities going.
The meeting with PSRU he said, is part of their routine visits to MDA’s in the Office of the President to see whether they are performing their duties in line with their mandate in addition to recounting their challenges and how those challenges can be address. The whole essence of the exercise, he said, is to enable the MDA’s under the Presidency to be fully functional as the office is the most important in the country.
According to Honourable Charles Kalawa, Chairman Parliamentary Committee on Defense and Presidential Affairs, they have undertaken oversight duty on the Ministry of Defense that took them as far as Yenga to have a clear picture of the Yenga situation and their report which has been forwarded to His Excellency encapsulates recommendations on the way forward. “We are now in the Office of the President to see how they are functioning consistent with their mandate and the national development agenda,” he said.
Giving an over view of the activities of his Unit, Director of PSRU, Dr. Julius Sandy, said, this is not the first time reform have been taking place in the country, stating that, previous reforms have been unsuccessful due mainly to lack of a reform framework, lack of Government ownership and leadership and lack of coordination pointing out that reforms in the past were supply driven as the entry point were always dictated by donors leading to haphazard planning and poor implementation.
He said the New Public Sector Reform Programme which is geared towards capacitating the public service to deliver quality service in a timely manner, offers unique opportunity as demonstrated in the Political leadership and ownership of the reform with the creation of a PSRU supervised by His Excellency with a direct reporting line between PSRU and the Presidency.
Dr, Sandy said this was the first time in the history of Sierra Leone a framework has been developed by the Government of in collaboration with donor partners to guided Public Sector Reform initiatives in the country. The key features of the New Public Sector Reform, he said, it is Coordinated in a holistic manner; it has a Framework for the implementation & management of Reform initiatives, there is a Focal point for Donor Partners to respond with respect to their programmes for Public Sector Reform, there is an Effective collaboration and partnership with Donor Partners , it further provides guidelines for the preparation of reform programmes in the Public Sector, it develops structures, systems and processes for increased service delivery and Capacitates the Public Sector.
According to the Reform Framework, Dr. Sandy explained, PSRU is mandated to Providing strategic advice to His Excellency and the Government of Sierra Leone on Public Sector Reform Initiatives, Serve as the Focal Point; and coordinate Public Sector Reform (including Civil Service Reform) programmes, identifying reform needs and opportunities and coordinate planning of a high-priority reform programme and establishing contacts with donor partners in ensuring that their professional inputs and financial resources fit within the priorities prescribed for public sector reform in Sierra Leone. It is also the responsibility of PSRU, he said, to liaise with MDAs and other relevant institutions that are engaged in reform activities, providing cross-cutting advice on PSR issues to Heads of related reform programmes, set up and participates in any formal monitoring and evaluation reviews and submitting quarterly report to His Excellency and Cabinet.
The reform framework, he noted, focused on eight thematic areas namely: Strategic and Structural Alignment; Staff, Pay and Incentives; Improvements in Systems and Tools, Improvements in Service Delivery, Capacity Building, Gender and Anti Corruption, Attitudinal and Behavioural Change, Public Service Reform Coordination and Management. All these, he stressed, are geared towards creating a performance-oriented and citizen focused Public Service.
He informed the Parliamentary Committee that they have undertaken Management and Functional Reviews of all government Ministries, Department and Agencies, with the exception of the Ministry of Transport and Aviation that will be completed shortly. The essence of the Functional Review, according to Dr. Sandy, is to enable MDAs have the right management structures, the right mix of skills, the correct systems, the aligning of functions and roles for clarity so as to maximizing productivity.
Dr. Sandy said whilst conducting the Management and Functional Reviews in MDA’s they have been undertaking monitoring activities to ensure that the recommendations agreed upon are implemented. He also stated that they have informed the MDA’s for the creation of new Management Structures like the creation of Change Management Teams; Service Charters; Policy and Planning Units; Internal Audit Units; Procurement Officers cadre; Records Management Officers and Human Resource Officers cadre, to ensure transparency and the delivery of quality service on a timely basis.