Ministry of Public Service is seeking to review and reform the regulations that guide the operations of government workers. Minister Henry Charles Usher spoke to the media on the level of changes and improvements that are coming to the way things are done at the public service.
Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform: “There are a lot of areas within the public service regulations that need a little tightening up, a little improvement and we’ll be looking at all of those. The union has presented a lot of updates that they would like to see happening in the regulations so we’ll be working very closely with them in terms of how we move forward with the changes having to be made in the regulations but the regulations cover a number of issues; it covers hiring, transfers, promotions, terminations, disciplinary measures if there needs to be disciplinary measures so there’s a lot going on in those regulations – training. I’m happy to say that we just had a graduation class for secretaries the first one in a number of years and when they approached me back in November they said “you know we would like to do it but we’ll have to do it virtually” I said “yes let’s get it done.” So we are having that graduation ceremony I believe on February 11th it will be made public but this is the type of work that needs to be done at the public service. This needs to be done for public officers so that they can have that independence, they can have that confidence of knowing they’re coming to their job they know that there’s a promotion mechanism in place where people don’t just come in and leapfrog them for whatever reason. You know it’s important to bring back the independence, the efficiency of the public service. It should not be a political measure where you’re hiring, firing or transferring, promoting anybody it should be done according to the regulations, it should be done according to what we see in working with the union as well.”
One of the challenges in achieving efficiency and professionalism in the public service has been alleged to be the blockage caused by the Public Services Commission. The commission is a body that public officers are sent when wrongdoings are suspected, but most times the commission would allow workers to remain on staff despite wrongdoings. The commission is one of the areas that the ministry hopes to reform.
Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform: “The Public Service Commission does have the finance say when it comes to discipline but they make recommendations so it might not be the disciplinary measure that that particular department wanted for that particular public officer but when it comes from the commission and disciplinary measure is, the officer is told about it or the department is told how to proceed it should be very straightforward process it shouldn’t be a back and forth it’s a matter that goes there then of course if the public officer is not satisfied with the discipline being recommended her can appeal that as well to the advisory council. So all of that as you say streamline, we have to look at all of those measures, we have to have better time frames in place. It can’t be just an open end thing it has to be set where due process is followed, public officer understands his or her role and understand too that they are accountable because public officers are accountable to the people they can’t be just protected all the time if they commit a crime or commit a breach of some regulation they should be disciplined for that. It’s a broad group that we’ll be looking at the union is involved as I said, the different ministries are involved, the Ministry of the Public Service is really the hub of where this is being done but different ministries are involved when we have to look at the updating of the regulations.”
As for the recent terminations within the government service, Minister Usher explains that those are reviewed by the Attorney General to ensure that there are no legal ramifications for the government.