The Civil Service of Ghana, an integral part of the executive branch of government, is a major component of the public services of Ghana, which come under supervision of the Public Services Commission. Ghana’s Civil Service is organized along British lines and constitutes one of the most enduring legacies of the British colonial rule. The post-independence era has seen some transformations of the colonial Civil Service in Ghana up until now, which were meant to incorporate the nationals of the country into managing the public sector of Ghana effectively and efficiently.
The objectives of the Civil Service of Ghana are, primarily to assist the Government in the formulation and implementation of Government policies and programmes for the development of the country. These objectives are accomplished through advising on Government plans, undertaking research for effective formulation and implementation of Government policies, and monitoring, co-coordinating, evaluating, and reviewing Government policies, and plans.
It also ensures that policies are translated into practical and cost-effective programmes and projects and maintains vigilant oversight of the implementation of policies by the various government Departments and Agencies assigned this responsibility. This paper discusses how ineffective the Civil Service of Ghana has been, in spite of the various legal frameworks instituted to ensure its operational conformity to the development of the country. The following legal instruments and Constitutional provisions over the years were meant to enhance the efficiency of the Ghana Civil Service.
Republican Constitution 1960. This Constitution abolished the Public Services Commission and replaced it with a Civil Service Act 1960 (C. A. 5). This Act provided for Creation of Civil Service posts, setting up of Ministries and Departments, appointment and retirement of Civil Servants and other matters relating to the Civil Service. Civil Service Interim Regulations, 1960 (L. I47). These Regulations provided for the Creation of a Ghana Civil Service Commission, Structure of the Ghana Civil Service, and filling of vacancies in the Ghana Civil Service among others. Civil Service Amendment Act 1965 (Act 303).
This Act abolished the Civil Service Commission and transferred its powers to an Establishment Secretariat. Other commissions and committees such as, the Mills Odoi Commission (1967), the Siriboe Committee (1968), the Okoh Commission (1977), the Kwaku Kyiama Committee (1982), and the Sackey Committee (1982) added recommendations to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the Civil Service through structural reorganization, and improved conditions of service Despite all the above legal transformations of the Civil Service, successive governments have criticized its ineffectiveness in carrying out the above objectives.
Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president attacked the Civil Service. “It amazes me that up to the present many civil servants do not realize that we are living in a revolutionary era. Ghana cannot afford to be tied down to archaic small-pace methods of work which obstruct expeditious progress….. civil servants therefore must develop a sense of mission and urgency to enable them to eliminate all tendencies towards red tapism, bureaucracy and waste. ” (Nkrumah 1961a:5). General E. K. Kotoka, a key member of the National Liberation Council (NLC), complained that “things don’t go as expected” in the Civil Service.
General Ocran, another member of the NLC, also complained that in his ministries unlike the army, the line of authority was ill-defined and diffused and civil servants often did not know who was responsible for what. (Legon Observer, 1967; Pinkey, 1972). The Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) Government blamed the Civil Service for not only sabotaging its policies and foot dragging but also regarded its top eschelons of the service as “allies of imperialism and neocolonialism which should be subjected to revolutionary overthrow and not mere reforms. Republic of Ghana, 1982:5-6). The New Patriotic Party (NPP) after resuming office in 2001 made several changes in the Civil Service, with the aim of improving its service provision to the country. How effective those changes were, are a history. Mostly, duties and responsibilities of the Civil Service are set by the direction the government in power wants to take or go. The vagueness of some of the policies of governments may itself help to explain why the governments complain of bureaucratic sabotage and tardiness in the implementation of their policies and programmes.
The governments themselves fail to clearly spell out what their policies were and civil servants had to spend much time in deciding what policies appeared to be the most suitable. (Pinkey 1992). This defines the functions of the Ghana Civil Service PNDCL 327 (7) This defines the mandate of the Office of Head of Civil Service. PNDCL 327(13) This defines the functions of Ministries. The effectiveness of the Civil Service of Ghana has always been plagued by: • Lack of vision and clear sense of direction. • Inappropriate structures and systems. • Ineffective leadership and weak management. Low morale and negative corporate image. • Excessive bureaucracy and delays. • Low capacity for planning and implementation of policy programs and projects. • Lack of discipline. • Shortage of skilled manpower. • Corruption. • Poor working environment, inadequate tools and offices often in a sordid state of disrepair. • Low remuneration and poor conditions of service. Such has rendered the Civil Service of Ghana ineffective in its duties. Most of the time, the Civil Service has been marred by implementation of inappropriate structures and systems of the government in power.
Such creates new and unfavorable conditions for the personnel in those environments in performing their duties effectively. The appointment of political favorites into the leadership positions in the Civil Service also contributes to ineffective leadership and weak management. The ladder of promotion which should be the yardstick of promoting leadership in the Civil Service is often ignored. This usually creates a low moral among the top hierarchy and the subordinates in the Civil Service.
In this 21st century where computers are the main instruments of compiling and providing fast data, most of the Civil Service offices in Ghana lack such facilities. This is a setback in improving the performance of most of the tasks in the Civil Service of Ghana. Excessive bureaucracy, by new management in the Civil Service, is mostly the causes of some delays in the implementation of some policies which should have been implemented by previous government. Corruption in the Civil Service has been a social canker. This is a result of the poor pay structure and the low remunerations given to civil servants.
The Way Forward, in view of the limited success of previous reforms, is for new initiatives aimed at further reforming the Ghana Civil Service to be launched to enable the Ghana Civil Service to position itself to deliver the country’s governance and development agenda effectively. These should include:- 1. Review of skills mix in the Ghana Civil Service to ensure optimal staffing using approved organizational structure. 2. Re-centralization of training, recruitment, promotion and related budgets to ensure equity, transparency and a uniform standard.
3. Undertaking accelerated training for Civil Servants especially for the leadership of the Service. 4. The development of service delivery standards. 5. Reform and improvement of pay and pensions programme. 6. Improvement in the condition of work of Civil Servants. 7. Implementation of a robust performance management system. 8. Review of the Ghana Civil Service law, rules and regulations/Administrative Instructions and code of conduct. 9. Using ICT Systems to speed up data handling and communication.
10. Review and simplification of processes and improvement in the mode and form of storage of files, folders and data. 1. Inculcation of strong professional code of ethics into the mind-sets of Civil Servants. A compact, professional and transparent Service, playing pivotal role in the formulation and implementation of programmes and projects for the achievement of the government’s development agenda, the Civil Service should ideally be characterized by high levels of professional/technical performance in terms of efficiency, effectiveness and initiative, with well-trained staffs that are knowledgeable, proactive and responsive to the aspirations of the government and the people of Ghana.
Civil servants must command integrity, fairness, impartiality and incorruptibility; high motivation and commitment, discipline, accountability and transparency with political impartiality and without the fear of being reprimanded for doing the “right thing” in a political arena. Such attitudes will enable the civil service to function effectively.