What new government should consider while reorganising public sector

President William Ruto at State House, Nairobi, during the swearing-in of judges, on September 14, 2022. [David Gichuru, Standard]

As the new administration settles into office, the lingering question is; how can a new regime be inoculated against the malignancy of vendetta?

How can it approach looming public sector reorganisation from a long-term view that demands robust conceptual energy rather than transient election victory bravado? These questions offer an opportunity for introspection and point to the inescapable fact that more conceptual rigour will be needed in shaping public sector reorganisation. 

Bearing in mind the vision of the president that needs to be achieved through delicate navigation, there is opportunity for the incoming Head of Public Service to prepare a well-reasoned strategy that will translate the president’s vision and thus eliminate the temptation to be diverted into the bottomless pit of vendetta.

Public sector reorganisation is the solemn national duty of appraising what worked, what failed and what should be re-engineered. It is the golden opportunity to remind civil servants of their core mandate in going the extra mile often with limited resources to serve citizens and build on quick wins that come with the reorganised mandates of various State ministries, departments and agencies.

The stakes have never been high and if there is anyone who knows that loss is not an option it is the president and his core confidants. The reorganisation will therefore benefit from not only the creative genius in the Head of Public Service and a high-level conversation at Cabinet level that won't entertain the pettiness of vendetta and sideshows.

It will require far-reaching consultations, deliberations and dialogue to inform intended mergers and consolidation of ministries, state departments and agencies. It will require a multidimensional lens to review the often contradictory and overlapping legal mandates, directives, and regulations meaning there has to be rejuvenation of the offices of the Attorney General, Solicitor General and the president's constitutional affairs advisor.

The implications of this is that the president's inner circle will benefit from a revitalised Presidential Delivery Secretariat that raises the weight, stature and substance of conversations and provides strategic altitude to the decisions and pronouncements from the Presidency. A Presidential Delivery Secretariat is more than a christened campaign team. It calls for persons with the capability of thinking beyond the 5-10 years presidential term to see the implications of decisions made today on future generations.

These should be persons capable of providing to Cabinet, Parliament and the entire Civil Service the necessary translation and interpretation of the president's vision. It is in interpretation and nuancing of the president's intent that governments fail or succeed. It is here that there is either policy sabotage, insubordination or outright delivery. It is here that one can eliminate decisively ministry turf wars and lethargy that often kill the best intended projects. It is here also that Cabinet secretaries can work together to support each other’s deliverables as opposed to simply reporting to merchants of profit and capture.

In this decisive moment, the Presidency will set the tone and pace for a higher national conversation and eventually set the country to a new consciousness and possibly translation of his manifesto to a reality.