Current Affairs

Current Affairs




PM says Civil Service needs culture change
Observer Reporter
Wednesday, November 20, 2002


'Excellence in customer service' seems to be the topic of this discussion among (from left) Prime Minister P J Patterson; Godfrey Perkins, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, and Stanley Gordon of the Standards and Monitoring Unit in the Office of the Cabinet. Occasion was the launch of Civil Service Week at Jamaica House on Monday. (Photo: John Nicholson)

PRIME Minister P J Patterson told civil servants Monday that the public service did not exist for the convenience of the people who work in it, but was designed for the people whom it serves.

Patterson, speaking at the launch of Civil Service Week at Jamaica House, said he had spoken before about the need for a "culture change" and that "performance targets must reflect the real needs of customers rather than being set to satisfy the whims and purposes of management".

The prime minister also outlined a six-year agenda for changes in the public service. He said that highlights of the programme include:

* By financial year 2003/04, corporate plans and performance management and appraisal systems are to have customer service related targets and recognition as well as reward schemes.

* In financial year 2004, all service-delivery entities will offer alternative service delivery options. This is to meet respective needs of diverse customers.

* During year 2007/08, all major service-delivery entities will offer e-service.

Patterson noted that the Jamaica Social Policy Framework and Plan of Action, which he presented to Parliament in August, seemed to have attracted little attention "in the din of party manifestos, political campaigning and the election aftermath". He stated that the document is deserving of attention as it speaks to urgent needs such as the "introduction of a culture of 'joined-up government' in the recognition that many issues are 'cross-cutting'. He gave the example of tourism, that involves, among other things, security, environment, health, customs, ports, roads and works, water, and sewage disposal.

At the same time Patterson said if the private sector is to fulfil its role as the main engine of growth, the public sector must also discharge its functions to enable this.

President of the Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA), Wayne Jones, told the launch that the celebrations of Civil Service Week came at a time when there has never been such a global demand for transparency and accountability.

He commended the prime minister for his commitment to improving the country's public administration machinery and called on JCSA members to be assertive in policing the new dispensation.