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AFRICAN PUBLIC SERVICE DAY

Leveraging technology for service delivery post-Covid

Core responsibility is to ensure that public service is managed by ethical public servants.

In Summary
  • Studies continue to reveal that human resource management strategies have a positive and significant impact on service delivery.
  • The Commission has turned to Information Technology solutions to ensure that delivery of its core mandate.
Public Service Commission
Public Service Commission
Image: COURTESY

The theme of this year’s African Public Service Day, ‘Entrenching Good Governance: Developing Transparent and Accountable Public Institutions’, puts focus on the quality of human resource in the public service. It is a response to the increasing public agitation globally, that human resource should be at the centre of demand for transparent and accountable public sector institutions.

Transparency and accountability go beyond the mere responsibility of delivering a task or service. It means that public servants are answerable if a service is not delivered in a timely and efficient manner. Service delivery is, hence, not only a responsibility of government, but a citizen’s right, which if not delivered well, they can demand for it.

Studies continue to reveal that human resource management strategies, ranging from talent acquisition, employee performance management and development strategies, have a positive and significant impact on service delivery.

It is therefore, the primary responsibility of the Public Service Commission, under Article 234 of the Constitution, to ensure that the public service is managed by ethical and professional public servants accountable to the citizens.

Other functions of the Commission under that Article is to ensure efficiency and effectiveness of the public service, recruitment and developing human resource in the public service among others. 

The African Public Service theme and focus on human resource management therefore spotlights how the Public Service Commission is delivering its mandate.

The impact of Covid-19 has not spared operations of the Commission. The way in which we interact within our departments, as well as citizen-to-government engagement, is seeing a significant shift as a result of the current work-from-home requirement.

The Commission has however turned to Information Technology solutions to ensure that delivery of its core mandate is not adversely affected. During this lockdown period, the Commission has leveraged virtual technology to recruit and provide critical personnel in a timely manner to ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) managing the spread of Covid-19.

Interviews are conducted through WebEx and telephone to comply with the laid down Ministry of Health safety precautions to minimise the spread of the virus.

Over this period the Commission has successfully shortlisted and interviewed various cadres of officers to fill vacancies in MDAs to ensure service delivery is not affected adversely for lack of requisite human resource capacity.

To mitigate the crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic in the health sector, the Commission recruited 5,550 health personnel across all counties under the Universal Health Care programme.

The Commission also recruited the director general, deputy director general and appointed authorised officer for Nairobi Metropolitan Services through virtual technology to ensure that residents of Nairobi continue receiving much-needed services despite the pandemic.

We have placed a call for the third round of the Public Service Internship Programme (PSIP) targeting young graduates.

The first round and the second rounds brought in about 12,000 interns on a 12 month programme. The programme’s objective is to develop young graduates for the job market and help them transition into employment not just in the public service but the economy as a whole.

The medium-term vision of the Commission contained in the Strategic Plan 2019-2024 is to have a citizen-centric public service. As a Commission, the COVID-19 situation presents both opportunities and challenges. Prior to Covid-19, public service transformation initiatives considered both on-line and non-online solutions almost on equal footing. But under the current circumstances the latter is rapidly taking a backseat.

Accordingly, paper-based solutions and face-to-face services are increasingly becoming an exception. There is instead an accelerated demand for on-line services that can be accessed remotely. The shift to digital technologies is therefore an integrated part of our transformation and innovation strategies, aimed at creating public value through the engagement of a broad ecosystem of stakeholders and offers us a chance to better respond to citizen demands.

Specifically, the Commission intends to increase access to public services through IT platforms – providing information and services as and where needed, particularly, focusing more on the unserved, the underserved and citizen service delivery pain points. We are therefore establishing a Citizen Contact Centre as a one-stop point for citizens’ service delivery in the public service. The primary objective of these initiatives is;

  • To achieve transparency and accountability in public service delivery;
  • To improve the quality and effectiveness and efficiency of public service delivery; and
  • To require explicit service delivery obligations be met by service providers, and implement mechanisms to ensure performance and accountability.

The Commission is currently in the processes of seeking partners in the various regions either with county governments or public service institutions to set-up regional virtual interview centres. This will drastically reduce travel time and expenditure for candidates from far flung parts of the country such as Mandera or Turkana.

The Commission is also exploring possibilities of collaborating with the Huduma Centres to ensure that services which do not require physical visit to the headquarters are offered at the citizens’ convenience. The Commission is embarking on this transformation agenda because experience demonstrates that with ethical, professional, efficient and dedicated public service, countries are able to achieve sustainable development and improve the livelihoods of their citizens.

Marking of the African Public Service Day, therefore provides a platform for public service institutions to share best practices and promote solidarity among public institutions by fostering relationships towards a shared vision on public management in the continent. As the Public Service Commission, our value proposition on this day is to implement strategies and programmes that will enable us recruit and retain a well-trained, professional and skilled public service work force as well as develop fit-for-purpose structures capable of delivering on the government’s development agenda and citizens’ needs.

Chairman, Public Service Commission