An Improved Public Sector Part 2

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Arguably, Barbados has one of the most reliable and trained public sectors in the western hemisphere.

Consider what would happen to this country if there were no postal workers, or transport authority to shuttle school children to school, or air traffic controllers; not to mention the immigration, customs and sanitation service employees- they all comprise the corps of dedicated individuals working under the umbrella of the public service.

In light of persistent calls for the service to ???come up to muster’ as far as productivity is concerned, Government has sought to make it more effective and transparent; largely through amendments to the Public Service Act, 2010.

Public servants are expected to uphold certain values in the best interest of society and these are regulated by Codes of Conduct and Ethics. They include conducting themselves with impartiality, honesty, and integrity; ensuring that individuals do not misuse their official positions, and that there is no conflict of interest between their personal and professional lives, or what is categorised as misconduct.

According to Chief Personnel Officer, Gail Atkins"… the Code [of Conduct] goes on to set out examples of misconduct of a serious nature and misconduct of a minor nature. And, it sets out the process to be followed in each situation and the penalties that might be implemented if the officer is found guilty of either misconduct of a serious nature or of a minor nature."

She continued: "I think though, that what is important about the Code is not that we have not had standards before, we’ve always had standards in the public service which officers are expected to follow. But, I think this Code brings about a new situation by setting down for the first time in one place all the standards that officers will be expected to follow… and identify the kinds of breaches that officers could be disciplined for."

What is also more gratifying is the attention to gauging individual performance through a two-way feedback mechanism between the supervisor and the employee, known as the Performance Review and Development System.

Project Coordinator, Francine Morgan, explained that under these regulations, "there are three progress meetings. The first..takes place between July and August. The second…in November/ December, and the final meeting in March the following year in accordance with Government’s financial year.

"These progress meetings are based on objectives and performance measures which are set out in the individual work plan. Each individual officer at the beginning of the financial year March/April will sit down with his/her supervisor, discuss and agree on performance measures and objectives, which are derived from officers’ job descriptions. So, for each progress meeting the officer is assessed based on the objectives and performance measures set out in their work plans," Ms. Morgan underlined.

The Code also addresses grievances. There is scope to deal with such matters within three days, and if not resolved during this period, then there is recourse for persons to appeal to the Permanent Secretary, or the Chief Personnel Officer.

It is expected that these changes will foster a better internal climate, and the affairs of the public will be dealt with sympathetically, efficiently and promptly, and moreover, without bias or maladministration.??clashley@barbados.gov.bb

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