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Promotions shocker for civil servants as Public Service Commission changes rules

COUNTIES
By FAITH RONO | October 4th 2014

That extra academic paper you are struggling to get may not earn you an automatic promotion in the public sector, The Standard on Saturday can report.

As things get thicker and as the Jubilee agenda to transform the public sector takes shape, a decision has been taken that going forward, public officers must justify promotion.

Academic papers will no longer be sufficient to achieve this justification because performance and merit will equally play a significant function.

This means that public servants who have acquired new qualifications, especially degrees, might not get that promotion just yet and will have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they merit a grade higher.

The Jubilee government has prioritised to clean up the sector through entire overhaul in most crucial operations ignored by successive regimes.

Already, the government is dealing with its greatest headache of eliminating ghost workers by undertaking a biometric registration exercise both at national and county levels.

The exercise is ongoing and a special report that will see public servants re-designated or even transferred is expected before the end of the year. But it this latest move that specifically aims at tightening existing gaps in government institutions including absenteeism occasioned by unscrupulous ‘study leaves.’

Public Service Commission (PSC) Chair Prof Margaret Kobia, in an interview with The Standard on Saturday, said the decision has been prompted by a huge number of civil servants enrolling in higher institutions of learning and demanding promotions thereafter, without showing essential performance indicators.

Though she could not give the exact number of employees who have enrolled in institutions of higher learning, she revealed the number has been increasing over time, and has since become suspicious.

Degree rush

“Most of them enrol in part-time classes, which means that their normal operations in the work place is never affected. We only provide study leave for those who opt to study outside the country,”she said.

Kobia is equally concerned that most civil servants are rushing to obtain degrees that are not in line with their professions for the sake of getting a promotion.

“Basically, looking at the performance of an individual, experience as well as the qualifications before a promotion, will change how the public service works,”Kobia added.

Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary Ann Waiguru, said the government has taken all the steps to achieve a professional public service that is responsive and espouses high level of integrity.

“Kenyans have spoken. They want services that are delivered efficiently and effectively. They want a public service that is professional. We cannot continue to allow ghost workers to populate our payroll as it diverts the very resources we should be using to deliver critical services. The Biometric registration exercise is the first step in this process,” she said

In effecting the new policy, PSC has already sent circulars to all responsible officers and stakeholders asking them to kick-start the implementation process.

Union of Kenya Civil Servants Secretary General Tom Odege, took issue with the PSC saying civil servants were not consulted before implementation of the policy.

“Stopping promotions is a big joke. There are several people who have not been promoted for more than a year now, because they were seconded to the counties,” Odege lamented.

Kobia has reiterated that PSC will be open to discussions but maintained the changes are meant to boost service delivery. It will be remembered that promotions in government offices have, for many years, been marred with corrupt practices.

“It will not be business as usual. In ministries for instance, the Permanent Secretary will be tasked with authorising promotion but PSC will verify if anyone meets set standards before promotion,” Kobia warned.

It is not yet clear if this new plan will affect officers working at county level, as Kobia revealed they expect counties to follow suit. The first circular titled ‘Designation of officers in the civil service’ was sent on September 4, while the second one was issued on September 9.

The new policy, which will be effected at national level states that re-designation will be limited to all common cadre employees.

Ordinarily, degree holders who enter the civil service for the first time are employed at job groups L, job group K for other professional degrees and J, for general degree holders. Diploma holders enter the sector at job group H and certificate holders job group G.

Provision of promotion posts for employees falling under the above job groups will be confined to the first two grades from entry level as opposed to the usual four grades.

This means medical, dental, veterinary officers as well as architects and State counsels who hold degrees, will be promoted after one year internship from Job Group L to M. They will, henceforth, have to meet the set requirements to move a grade higher.

The September 9, schedule further reiterates that all other re-designations and promotions will be subject to existence of job vacancies.

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