Dr. Puchu Leona Bernard, director general of Liberia’s civil service agency, says she’s upbeat about the prospect of an effective and efficient agency of government supporting the rebuilding of public institutions in the country.
The statement is in relation to ongoing hands-on training in performance assessment across various sectors of government. CSA’s performance management teams are currently in the field conducting the training intended to empower agency staff with needed skills to enhance performance and service delivery in the public sector. “It is incumbent upon the supervisors to ensure that every staff working under them are doing their job and performing exceptionally. We have a six-month mid-year review and of course yearly review of staff performance. If they did very well at the end of the year, they get rewards in cash,” the CSA boss added. At the end of the training, CSA staffs are expected to manage, measure and reward performance across functionaries of government, as part of the agency’s roadmap called Civil Service Reform Strategy (CSRS). “Civil service reform is to improve service delivery, which goes in line with performance and developing the leadership skills of the staffs,” Dr. Bernard noted. She spoke recently on Okay FM in Monrovia. The CSRS outlines steps to transform the agency into a competent, professional, and motivated workforce effective in sustainable human development. It focuses on restructuring and rightsizing, pay and pension reforms, human resources management, developing leadership and gender equity in the civil service. Dr. Bernard noted that when she assumed her role at the CSA, it was challenging for her to know exactly what people within the CSA did in terms of job description and attitude. “I worked my way around. I had to interact with each staff at every level to understand their functions. It is no secret that an effective civil service will lead to an efficient government that supports development programs and projects that impact the lives of the people. Even my staffs at the CSA are assessed and my own performance is assessed by the president. Even sweepers are assessed. We have to show value for the salary we receive,” she noted. Under Dr. Bernard, CSA has developed 3,500 job descriptions for positions within its ranks. It has also established four regional offices. “I practically took paint buckets, brushes along with some staffs to open the Gbarnga, Bong County regional office. There were many people in government who didn’t know what to do. The reforms have helped us define new strategies and policies which has supported the effectiveness and professional service we have today,” she says. According to her, people are performing exceptionally, while the need for improved performance can never be overemphasized. “An effective civil service is one that recruits based on merit and competency. A government that is efficient makes plans and implements them – transforming the lives of its citizens. Our recruitment system has improved significantly – with a five-member panel that conducts interviews and shortlist applicants.”