There is a grave Public Service problem in the country. To a large degree the erosion of the service, is an indictmentof successive central administrations. The Public Service mindset is deplorable. Unfortunately, the attitude is spreading beyond government ministries,agencies and departments, into the private sector.
As a result, the country once heralded as the best in providing quality service, continues to slide lower and lower. Itâ s an outdated system that residents and visitors have to confront daily as they seek to make necessary arrangements that relate to personal entitlements, general requests,necessary documents, licenses etc.
Often, volumes of data have been lost or misplaced. If a particular person has dealt with a matter and goes on vacation or sick leave, nothing happens because there has been no transfer process. So those seeking service are faced with waiting or going through the respective process again.
This really vicious cycle gets repeated constantly. Trying to make contact via telephone proves to be the greatest of struggles. One could spend many minutes on one telephone call, being passed to and fro, often having to wait for long periods before a voice responds. In many instances, it's better to hang up and begin the process all over again.
Itâ s a deplorable situation.
Minister of Labor, National Insurance and Public Service Shane Gibson recognizes the national dilemma.
He demonstrated as much during the recent United Nations Public Service Forum in Medellin, Colombia.
â Unfortunately, (our) Public Service has moved too slowly due to a resistant organizational culture which has been established over the years. Our Act, policies and processes are over 50 years old and we are still paper bound.
â If we fail to addresss this problem in a more focused and comprehensive manner, the Public Service would simply not have the competencies to support a developing country.
â There is a dearth of competencies. Hereâ s how we intend to tackle this problem. All ministries will develop stretegic plans, which will undoubtedly include the use of information technology, youth development, succession planning, accessibility of information, quicker response times, and customer service.
We must also revise our Public Srvice Act,â said the minister.
We suggest also a concentration on changing the approach of those now in the system who will not retire for another 10-15 or maybe 20 years. It is that group that remains set in the old ways, those who milk the â government jobâ cultureto the fullest.
The Gibson era politicians must take the blame for the deterioration of the Public Service. Prior to Independence, the culture created by the English civil service workers was still very much in place.
Sadly, but true, what exists today is a far cry from the smooth Public Service engine that we came to take for granted. Now, we have the Minister of Public Service expressing concerns, publicly, internationally.
It is thus up to Minister Gibson and his government colleagues to bite the bullet and change the culture.
Talking about the problem honestly, as he has, is one thing. Seriously and fundamentally addressing it is something entirely different.
We wonder if this government can prove to be equal to the task at hand.