Over the course of the next few days, some 400-odd public service personnel from across the Commonwealth will gather in Barbados to participate in the 8th Biennial Conference of the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM).

The meeting, which officially starts this coming Sunday, October 19, with an evening reception in Parliament Buildings Yard, will bring together delegates from the 53-member Commonwealth to address a number of issues relating to efficient public sector management. Its theme is “Continuing the Shared Journey: Achieving Public Service Excellence”.

The four days of discussions are set against a background of concerns that have been raised from time to time about entrenched attitudes, practices and sluggish productivity that, for the most part, seem to pervade the public service across the Commonwealth.

CAPAM, an international association with headquarters in Ottawa, Canada, was established in 1994 to facilitate the exchange of information and knowledge among senior public service personnel, by focusing on strengthening the quality and effectiveness of public administration and advancing good governance through best practices.

Its membership is open to public sector individuals, organisations and government ministries and departments within the Commonwealth, associated states, external territories and dependencies, as well as private sector organisations, corporations and NGOs. In addition, CAPAM offers consultancy services and works closely with the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.

Past CAPAM conferences have been held in Canada, Malta, Malaysia, South Africa, United Kingdom, Singapore and Australia. This conference will therefore not only be a first for Barbados, but also the Caribbean.

A Pre-Conference Workshop, under the theme ‘Vulnerability of Small Island Developing States’, will precede the meeting at the Hilton Barbados on Sunday, October 19, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Head of the Barbados Civil Service, Mrs. Avril Gollop, who is also a Vice-President of CAPAM, will chair the opening session of the conference, which will feature keynote addresses by Mrs. Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, a former Minister of Public Service and Administration, South Africa; and Mr. Ransford Smith, Deputy Secretary General, Commonwealth Secretariat.

In keeping with CAPAM’s mission to promote the practical requirements of good governance, the Gordon Draper Award will be presented during the conference for excellence and recognition. This award acknowledges and honours the legacy of the late Gordon Draper, who was the inaugural President and a founder-member of CAPAM, and, at one time, its Director of International Development. He was a former Cabinet Minister in Trinidad and Tobago.

From a local perspective, having the forum in Barbados should provide a fillip to Government’s ongoing efforts at meaningful public sector reform; and this should, therefore, redound to the country’s benefit.

As Mrs. Avril Gollop observed, “our continuing work to achieve serious reform in the public sector and hence improve everyday service delivery will be put to the test, and Barbados should be the better for it.”

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