Monday, 11 August 2014

Excerpts from the book - 'THE CHALLENGES OF TRANSFORMING THE CIVIL SERVICE' ; reforms of Alhaji Bukar Goni Aji. - PART 3

In Part 3 of the excerpts – ‘Restructuring the Office of The Head of the Civil Service.’

Some things which were thought to be jinxed have now moved forward. Various Heads of Service have talked about restructuring the Office of the Head of Service but no one had actually ever done it. Bukar Goni Aji showed great courage to start it. 

To strengthen the OHCSF and improve its focus on delivering its core functions as an Employee Management Institution (EMI), a Civil Service Reform roadmap for ‘revitalising the Federal Civil
Service’ was developed in collaboration with technical support from the DFID Federal Public Administration Programme (FEPAR) in February 2012. The institutional strengthening of the OHCSF became a critical component of this roadmap. This roadmap included:

Review of the OHCSF mandate, structure and functions;
Assessment and building of the OHCSF capacity; and
Review and improvement of OHCSF operational processes.

These reviews were conducted between April and June 2012. The findings and recommendations of this exercise, including the organisational restructuring and realignment of functions, were presented to the OHCSF.

The reviews identified that the current structure was unwieldy. It had misplaced functions and there was no clear delineation of functions, which resulted in overlaps and duplication of functions and activities. It also identified that some functions were dormant or out-rightly missing. The recommended organisational development work was to evolve an optimised organisational structure that would address issues facing the OHCSF and support its future direction. The findings and recommendations were approved and prioritised for implementation.

The objective of the organisational restructuring was to address the weaknesses identified in the functional review in order to strengthen the OHCSF as an EMI; optimise the work efficiency of this central body in line with the Federal Government’s Transformation Agenda and the need to reduce cost of governance; align the OHCSF operations to global best practice; and position the Service to provide improved service delivery.

FEPAR was invited to propose a slimmer, more efficient, fit-for-purpose organisational design for the OHCSF by harmonising and streamlining functional duplications in comprising offices, departments, divisions and units; resolving and separating functional overlaps; aligning and repositioning misplaced functions; introducing and setting up essential missing functions; developing job descriptions; and developing an implementation/transition plan.

The organisational restructuring task was approached by reviewing the OHCSF vision, mission, values/operating principles, strategic objectives and operating context. After several participatory and consultative sessions with the OHCSF the following changes were agreed and approved by the HCSF.

2.1.1 New Mandate
To be responsible for leadership, management and capacity development of all Federal Civil Servants for effective, efficient and accountable service delivery to the public.
2.1.2 New Vision statement
A modern public service organisation that provides world class service for sustainable national development.
2.1.3 New Mission statement
To provide a professional civil service that is anchored on stewardship, trust and stakeholder engagement that ensures MDAs are equipped for policy management and good governance.

2.1.4 Strategic Theme for 2013-2017
  • Proactive, committed, result-focused and accountable civil servants;
  • A well-motivated, professional and ethical workforce;
  • A civil service that works to identify and meet stakeholders’ needs in a
    timely and qualitative manner;
  • Implementation of effective governance and management systems for
    the Federal Civil Service.
2.2 New OHCSF Organisational structure
There is a need for a second phase review to ensure that we have the right people to drive the OHCSF. The next Head of Service must focus on this.

A new 3-Office Structure was evolved from the old 6-Office structure. The details of the new Office structure is:

Service policies & Strategies office
Organisation Design & Development Department Civil Service Transformation Department
Leadership Management & Succession Department

Career management office
  • Performance Management Department
  • Learning & Development Department
  • Employee Mobility Department
  • Employee Relations & Welfare Department

    Common services office
    Human Resource Management & Administration Department Finance & Accounts Department
    Planning, Analytics & Monitoring Department
    Procurement Department
The Communications, Legal, Internal Audit and Stock Verification Units report directly to the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation in accordance with the Public Service Rules and the Financial Regulations. The number of departments was reduced from twenty-five to twelve.
The new mandate, vision, mission statement and top level functional structure were approved by President Goodluck Jonathan in January 2013.

2.3 The OHCSF strategic Plan (2013 -2017)
To give impetus to the newly created functions in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation it was critical to develop a strategic plan. The 5-year OHCSF Strategic Plan was developed to strengthen the central administrative agency’s delivery of its mandate. This document presents the new strategic direction for the OHCSF. Its strategic objectives aim to achieve the following:

Evolve the OHCSF into a stronger and more effective central administrative function;
Facilitate the following:
Effective management of OHCSF’s stakeholders;
Effective, service-wide coordinating and governance mechanisms through which the OHCSF can provide strategic leadership and guidance to relevant stakeholders;
Identification and removal of areas of overlap and or potential conflict between the responsibilities the OHCSF and relevant MDAs;
Develop strategies for managing the existing “pooling system”;
The Strategic Plan was developed and agreed through a highly consultative process including several retreats with the HCSF, Permanent Secretaries and Directors of the OHCSF, and outlines the outcomes of these engagement sessions and one-on-one meetings. Agreed strategic projects associated with each of the strategies, the desired outcome from each of the projects is stated in the Strategic Plan.

The key activities that will strengthen the reform during the plan period are clearly articulated in the Strategic Plan. The Strategic Objectives in the Plan are reproduced below:

Strategic Objective 1:
Proactive, committed, results-focused and accountable civil servants
Strategic Objective 2:
A well-motivated, professional and ethical workforce
Strategic Objective 3:
A Civil Service that works to identify and meet Stakeholder needs in a timely and qualitative manner
Strategic Objective 4
Implementation of effective Governance and management systems for the Federal Civil Service

The OHCSF Strategic Plan was approved in June 2014. For the first time ever, the OHCSF 2014 budget was aligned to its Strategic Plan. This was significant. Having realigned its structure and functions, the OHCSF developed a strategic plan and then derived its budget from that strategic plan. The management of the tripod of plan, people and money is the very essence of strategic planning and the OHCSF was showing an example worthy of emulation by the rest of the Service. 

Divestment of Non-core functions of the OHCSF. 
During the restructuring exercise the following functions were found not to be part of the core mandate of the OHCSF:

The functions of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR); and The management of the old Pension Scheme.

Where the natural instinct of many public servants is to expand their territories, Alhaji Bukar Goni Aji went the other way. He focused on the overall good of the service, rather than on empire building, ego or pecuniary interest. 

Before now, nobody was really coordinating the reforms or bringing into focus what the reforms should be about. 

The Bureau of Public Service Reforms started out as an independent agency of government, with a Director General and its own self- accounting status. However, an argument was made that the civil service could not be reformed from outside and that it was necessary to bring the Bureau under the authority of the Head of Service. This meant that, apart from its first 3 years of existence, the Bureau was led by Permanent Secretaries. The strict civil service hierarchy meant that the Permanent
part, the civil service. This effectively hamstrung the Bureau and meant that most of the reforms happening in the public service were happening despite, not because of, the Bureau. The historically lean budgetary provision for the Bureau and the lack of a clear focus meant that many Permanent Secretaries saw their posting to the Bureau as “punishment posting.” 

You need to come back for PART 4, to read how the divestment of BPSR from the OHCSF took place. 

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