Civil Service needs reforms— Dean of UGBS

BY: Edward Acquah
Professor Justice Nyigmah Bawole (PhD)
Professor Justice Nyigmah Bawole (PhD)

The Dean of the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS), Professor Justice Nyigmah Bawole, has urged the Civil Service to revise its rules and operational systems to respond to emerging challenges in public administration and governance occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the revision, he emphasised the need to embrace technology and digitise operations, especially in the areas of documentation, procurement, and recruitment exercises.

He said although the service hinged on time-tested values and rules, which spelled out strict administrative procedures, the challenges posed by the pandemic required new approaches to build an adaptive service.

Civil Service Week

Delivering a lecture, as part of activities to mark the 2021 Civil Service Week celebration in Accra yesterday, Prof. Bawole further urged the Office of the Head of Civil Service (OHCS) and the Public Services Commission to encourage innovation among public servants to address unexpected challenges.

The Civil Service Week is observed annually to sensitise civil servants to their contribution to national development and reward hardworking personnel.

The lecture, organised by the OHCS, was labelled: "Economic Transformation Amid COVID-19 Pandemic: The Responsibilities of an Adaptive Civil Service".

“At the current rate of COVID-19, there is no way we can continue with the old ways of doing things. The Civil Service is very rule-based, so everything must be physically delivered, and that has created a lot of problems; the fact that we cannot trace essential documents and issues like that.

“I think that the ongoing COVID-19 initiatives should give us the impetus to see how we can digitise things. Everywhere in the world, a lot of the processes are faster and easy to track, which creates more transparency and allows the Civil Service to be responsive,” Prof. Bawole said.

Describing COVID-19 as “a wicked problem”, he encouraged the OHCS to invest more in technology and research to assist the service to adopt sustainable working practices beyond the pandemic.

While commending the Civil Service for instituting measures such as the introduction of “smartwork” systems to reduce the impact of the pandemic on its service delivery, he emphasised the need for continuous training of civil servants on emerging technologies and practices.

He encouraged civil servants to be mindful that their role in the development of the nation could not be underestimated at all times, thus there was the need for such personnel to always aspire to achieve excellence in their service delivery.

“If people continue to rely on the training they had yesterday, and circumstances change and we do not retrain them, we suffer the risk of getting them to become unfit for managing new challenges just because we have relied too much on past experiences,” he said.

Overcame challenges

The Head of the Civil Service, Nana Kwesi Agyekum Dwamena, said COVID-19 had led to a shift in the method of conducting business, adding that in spite of the challenges posed by the pandemic, the Civil Service did not relent in the discharge of its mandate.

“The current situation demands that the Civil Service is repositioned to deal with the disruptions associated with the pandemic by providing the necessary leadership for transforming all the sectors,” he said.