March 16, 2015 By: Amadu Femoh Sesay
Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service, Dr. Ernest Surrur – in partnership with the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Human Resource Management Office (HRMO) – on Thursday 12th March conducted examinations for over 70 senior civil servants from which a number of selections could be made for promotion to the position of Permanent Secretary. The session was held at the Civil Service Training College, Tower Hill in Freetown.
The introduction of examinations for promotion, according to Dr. Surrur, was part of the continued efforts of the leadership of the civil service in transforming the service into a vibrant and result-oriented work force that would deliver quality and timely services to the public.
Addressing the candidates shortly before the examinations, he said the positions they were vying for were key in the country’s development and must be given to officers who they were sure would be able to perform well in those positions. He pointed out that the service does not have a way of evaluating all of them except through the Individual Performance Appraisal System (IPAS), which he observed has some challenges with its full implementation.
“We have just started implementing the IPAS and we hope to have that settled down in the next two years,” Dr. Surrur affirmed.
He informed the candidates that the examination would be divided into four key thematic areas namely: Strategic Thinking, Problem Solving, Innovative/Creative, Thinking and Inter-personal Skills, saying that the above areas were critical for good leadership of the civil service. He said their jobs were very strategic and if they were not strategic in their thinking they would hardly achieve any developmental project.
The Cabinet Secretary maintained that Permanent Secretaries were supposed to be problem solvers, managers of conflicts, motivate their staff and nurture team work at their various ministries.
He recalled that the civil service had not been performing because the ‘middle level’ was missing. “This is the middle level we have been crying for and for the past four years we have been nurturing you to occupy this level, and I feel very confident that we have achieved something,” he observed.
Wishing the candidates good luck, Dr. Surrur said he was hopeful to see good performances from all of them.
Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Dr. Max Sesay, said the examination process opens a new era of cooperation between the leadership of the civil service and the PSC. He said his brief stay at the Commission has indicated that there has been a lot of issues with progression, and that complaints were coming in that promotions were not straight forwarded, fair and transparent. The examination, he said, could be seen as a good attempt to stem the problem.
Mr. Sesay disclosed that the Commission was working with the leadership of the service and the Civil Service Training College to ensure they put a system of progression within the service.
He expressed hope that the examination process would be cascaded to other levels within the service, adding that the purpose for organizing the examination was not to undermine the relevance of IPAS but to compliment it.