Thursday, 7 January 2016

Impact of Public Service Reforms: The IPPIS example by Dr. Joe Abah. @DrJoeAbah @bpsr_ng

Director-General, Bureau of Public Service Reforms [BPSR], Dr. Joe Abah
THE Nigerian government is faced with many serious challenges, the most prominent of which include corruption, indiscipline and lack of accountability in governance.
Some of these problems seem intractable and many Nigerians despair as to whether or not the nation can successfully tackle them.
Others are, however, optimistic that eradicating the vices from the nation’s polity is quiet possible, given the way and manner the country successfully contained the dreaded Ebola disease, which was largely attributable to a combination of factors that included, seriousness in confronting the threat.
The nation, therefore, has no option but to bring into governance a holistic reform, capable of re-positioning the vibrant public service sector for better service delivery to the people.
It is in the light of this, that successive governments from 1999 to 2014 introduced the Public Service Reforms into governance in Nigeria packaged by the Bureau of Public Service Reforms [BPSR], and supervised by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
The reforms cut across all government ministries, departments and agencies [MDAs].  The reform also gave birth to what is now known as the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System [IPPIS] currently operational in the public service. It was put in place in 2007 and is presently being fully rolled out across the entire service.
In the past, the manual, file-based personnel system operated by the Federal Public Service meant that government did not have accurate and reliable information about the size and nature of its workforce.
Eight years down the line, the system, like any other policy before it, has suffered several challenges and setbacks.
Some of such key challenges are that, the vendors are yet to deliver all the modules paid for, as well as weak project management among others. There is also this issue of organised resistance to full-roll-out as there are no clear roll-out plans.

Also, the issue of connectivity, week network security, and unclear project governance structure [no overall key], has not helped matters. Similarly, IPPIS Personnel Service Wide is not fully activated in the area of provision of incentives to match the jobs they perform.There is the issue of the human resource modules still virtually unused just to mention a few.
Notwithstanding, the achievements of IPPIS to the federal government reform programme could best be described as very successful.
A close look at the recent launch of key publications on government reforms by the Director-General, Bureau of Public Service Reforms [BPSR], Dr. Joe Abah in Abuja, titled, ‘’Public Service Reforms in Nigeria 1999—2014: A Comprehensive Reviews’’ indicates that the introduction of IPPIS into governance has reduced the cost of administration by saving for government a whooping sum of N185 billion [about $1 billion] to date, with N415 million saved in the first month of operation.
The quality of government payroll administration has vastly improved and more ministries, department and agencies [MDAs] are moving away from manual payroll administration.
A total of 359 MDAs now have the necessary information for planning their personnel costs and the scheme has successfully enrolled 237,917 staff and weeded out 60,450 ghost workers. In short, IPPIS has reduced corruption by virtually eliminating the ghost-worker syndrome. It has also reduced the red tape involved in manual payroll administration.

In his statement at the launch, Dr. Abah noted, ‘’BPSR’s key role is ensuring that government organisations work better for improved service delivery to Nigerians.
“We are pleased to present four publications that form part of our efforts this year to ensure that we measure the impact of government activities on citizens that our agencies are better equipped to deliver their mandates, that we restructure the mechanisms for delivering government services and that we learn the lessons from what works to improve what doesn’t yet work’’. Abah explained that the publication has helped government to assess the impact of all key governance reforms in Nigeria since 1999.
‘’It presents, perhaps, the most comprehensive review of the state of our public services ever undertaken in Nigeria. The 500- page document identifies the problems that need to be addressed, the efforts to address them, the challenges that remain and what needs to be done next, it also gives BPSR’s assessment of the success and impact of each reforms activity’’.
According to him, agencies and parastatals of government are vitally important for delivering government priorities, they have the autonomy, legal backing and resources to deliver services directly to citizens. And the performance of any government is often judged by the performance of its agencies.
‘’However, many chief executives and heads of agencies are appointed with little or no public service delivery experience to address this gap. BPSR has published a guide on ‘’How to Manage and Reform Agencies and Parastatals”.
The document, according to Abah, provides simple guidance for the chief executives on how to run government agencies effectively, it covers issues such as leadership, strategic governance, procurement, service delivery, human resource management and performance management.

Abah noted that the best of all is that the gunges is complemented with a Self Assessment Tool with which agencies and parastatals can assess their own performance against local and international best practice. The tool, he said, has already been piloted at the Federal Road Safety Commission and the Abuja Enterprise Agency as the BPSR  has equally held an introductory meeting with the Nigerian Communications Commission to deploy the tool in that organization, stressing that other organisations like EFCC, have indicated their willingness to adopt the tool.
In his contributions, Bassey Okon, a retired director in one of the federal ministries, described the coming on board of IPPIS model as one of the best reforms that has succeeded in Nigeria.
‘’Apart from making salary payments easy for federal civil servants as at when due, it has also enabled government to have a vivid account of the number of employees she has in its payroll’’.

He said, ‘‘This system has helped to reduce ghost workers to the barest minimum. Before now, when payments were done manually, you see a lot of staff members offering bribes to be transferred to the office of the Accountant-General or the office of the Auditor-General, all with the aim of making quick money from the lopsided system operational in the past, all these have been brought to a stop, thanks to IPPIS,” he remarked.
Alhaji Baba Jimoh is a deputy- director in one of the federal government parastatals. He described IPPIS as one of the best form of fighting corruption without making much noise. ‘’To me, IPPIS is the best way to stop corruption in our land, if you arrest people, you charge them to court, the culprits are allowed to hire their lawyers, at the end of the day, they go for the best lawyers in town because they have stolen so much from the system, they used the stolen funds to fight back the same government and at last, they are left off the hook, this is not proper,’’ he said.
From the foregoing, it is quite clear, therefore, that IPPIS reforms introduced by the Nigerian government have become a blessing, not a burden. This is obvious because the temporary hardship suffered by civil servants at inception has given them easy assess to receive their monthly salaries without stress any longer.
It is advised, therefore, that MDAs yet to be captured by IPPIS be mandated to do so without further delay or face severe consequences, he said. (The Guardian)

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