Public Sector Transformation to Present Opportunities For Civil Servant

The Jamaica Observer

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — As the Government advances plans for the transformation of the public sector, civil servants will be given the opportunity to upgrade their skills to be suitably qualified for the new jobs that will accrue from the streamlining exercise.

Many of the new jobs will come from applying the new concept of shared services to the Government’s ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). One such shared service is the human resource (HR) function.

This is according to Executive Director, Transformation Implementation Unit, Office of the Prime Minister, Maria Thompson-Walters, who informed that “new jobs that never existed before are going to emerge in the public sector”, as a result of the anticipated changes to occur with HR transformation.

Thompson-Walters was speaking at a recent forum on public-sector transformation, hosted by the Management Institute for National Development (MIND) at its Kingston campus.

Highlighting some of the new roles that will be created from the centralisation of HR functions, the executive director pointed to the position of reporting analyst, which deals with data that resides in shared services. 

This individual will provide information about employees, such as man-hours lost, days’ entitlement, and how many persons are employed to particular MDAs. This information will assist managers to prepare their reports.

There is also the position of shared services associate, who will be responsible for manning a “help desk” for employees. Thompson-Walters further pointed to the specialised roles of HR business partner; client service officer; and client services manager that could also emerge. 

The executive director noted that the transformation team will seek to partner with MIND, along with other institutions, in order to provide opportunities for the upskilling of public officers, “which we believe is very important in any transformation”.

Thompson-Walters pointed out that the concept of shared services is a new area that the public service must embrace in order to increase efficiency of service delivery. She said the idea is to build out the shared corporate services model that was identified in the Master Rationalisation Plan that was formulated in 2011. The plan contains recommendations for the restructuring of MDAs.

“It’s a simple model that says those activities that can be shared and then offered back to MDAs should be shared in a single organisation. HR fits neatly in that concept where you have a single entity providing HR services,’ Thompson-Walters explained.

She said that adopting this concept, which is now only being used by three corporate entities in the country, does not translate into closing HR departments in the ministries.

“What it does mean, is that in those departments, HR functions will change significantly, and will be focused more on planning – workforce planning, succession planning – and assisting with the strategic direction, making sure that the Ministry has the manpower to carry out its functions effectively,” she added.

As set out in the Master Rationalisation Plan, the concept will also apply to other areas within the public sector, including legal services; procurement; internal audit; finance and accounts; public relations and communications; and information and communications technology (ICT) services.

The implementation of this concept is one of the priority areas that were identified for immediate action under the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies agreement signed in October last year.

Other priorities now being undertaken under this renewed public-sector transformation thrust include a complete review of the classification of all existing public bodies, consistent with the public financial-management rules. This is with a view to divest some entities; merge entities where greater economies of scale can be achieved; wind up overlapping or inactive entities and outsource functions that can be better performed by the private sector.

The transformation team is also looking at wage bill management, public-sector efficiency, and implementation of shared corporate services.