Mass Dismissal Would Be ‘Unique’

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A proposal by the Liberian Government through the Civil Service Agency (CSA) to dismiss or reduce by approximately 44,000 civil servants without “unique benefits and timing” has been dismissed by a member of the Public Servants Reform Sector Committee.

The reason might have stemmed from the widely publicized dismissal of civil servants amidst the ongoing Ebola health crisis.

The Director General of the Liberia Institute of Public Administration (LIPA), Oblayon Blayon Nyemah, clarified that the terms “dismissals or redundancies” of civil servants should rather be “rightsizing,”—meaning rightsizing the right people at the right time.

He made the assertions yesterday during the kickoff of the training of 24 newly recruited Directors at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), during the start of the strategic leadership and management initiative in the public sector.

Mr. Nyemah said LIPA, Civil Service Agency (CSA), and the Governance Reform (GR) are brainstorming to expeditiously “rightsize” civil servants to keep them from being detrimental to the society.

But he failed to state when the government would implement the “unique rightsizing” of civil servants.

 “It’s important to reform the public sector, but there should be a unique approach in which all the parties involved are satisfied, and that is what we are working on,” the LIPA boss said.

Some political pundits believe that the change of terminology from downsizing to rightsizing is due to the fact that downsizing is a reactive process, meaning it is a depressing, destructive process.

“Being put in the position of having to lay people off is not pleasant for any manager. When you are coping with downsizing, it can appear that your time and effort is nonproductive. Downsizing can be disruptive to ongoing operations because people need to spend time undoing and redoing things that used to work,” Mr. Daniel Gray of Stephen Tolbert Estate said.

While other pundits believe that although the phrase “rightsizing” has been used in some organizations as a euphemism for “downsizing” to make it seem more pleasant than it is, they are not the same thing.

“Rightsizing is proactive and needs to be a constant part of the process of managing an organization,” Elijah Konah of Freeport argued.

However, the National Legislature recently rejected the proposal for the “rightsizing” of civil servants in the midst of the Ebola crisis.  But the Executive Branch, through CSA Director General George Werner, earlier clarified that the laying off of thousands of government workers with the aim of maintaining an “efficient, effective and small size public service” is just a proposal.

Mr. Werner said the proposed workforce reduction “was presented to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her Cabinet, but was not endorsed or approved.”

“We need a civil service that is professional and operates within a rational pay system. What this will do is improve wages because there are many government employees that are not providing the services they are being paid for,” Werner said.

Established in 1969, LIPA is the government’s center for capacity building of civil servants and the institutions at which they work.

Speaking to the newly recruited directors at the MFPD, the LIPA boss said they should be proud of the continuous capacity building and should act accordingly as principal Directors, the highest-ranking civil servants.

On behalf the directors, the Aspiring Director for Communication, Zoegar Jaynes, said the newly recruited directors are all employees of the former Ministry of Finance but were recently recruited through a competitive vetting process to improve the newly established MFDP.

He said the training was in compliance with their responsibility to be aware of the public sector as it relates to the Code of Conduct, the Public Financial Management Law and Regulations, Public Procurement Law and Management and Effective Organizational Communication and Time Management as well as Introduction to Public Sector Reforms, Civil Service Standing Order and Public Administration, amongst others.

The Directors have been classified into four groups: Departments of Fiscal Affairs, Administration, Economic Management and Budget & Planning.

The Department of Fiscal Affairs has nine distinct operational offices to include, Directors of Non-Tax Revenue, Indirect Taxation, Modeling &Forecast, Direct Taxes, Fiscal Decentralization, Financial Approval, Treasury Services, Financial Regulations and Accounting Services.

 The Department of Budget & Development Planning has the second largest operational squad, namely the Directors of Budget Policy & Coordination, Social and Community Services, Economic Services, Public Administration Services, Regional & Sectoral Services, Public Investment, Monitoring & Evaluation and Planning, Development & Coordination.

Others include the Directors of Administration, Human Resource, Budget and Finance Integrity, which are under the Department of Administration; while the Directors of Aid Management, Economic Policy and Microeconomics and Financial Policy are part of the Department of Economic Management.

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