Promotion In The Public Service

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

Promotion in the Public Service is suppose to be the sole purview of the Public Service Commission in accordance with the Constitution, but is it really so? Before going into their role, it would be best to have some appreciation of the origins of services commissions.

The first civil service commission was established in Britain in 1855. It was intended to be an independent and impartial body with responsibility for recruitment of persons to the civil service. Its role was essentially to deliver a civil service that was apolitical that would serve and give honest advice to whichever political party that forms the Government. To achieve this goal, the commission was solely responsible for the recruitment, appointment, promotion and discipline of civil servants. Prior to this, jobs in the civil service were dispensed on the basis of patronage.

In Barbados, the Public Service Commission was established with the same lofty principles as the original British commission and its independence was enshrined in the Constitution. However, the constitutional amendments of 1974 opened a highway for politicians to shuttle their supporters in droves into the Public Service. Effectively, the Public Service Commission was side-stepped for recruitment into the Public Service, since most persons were recruited as temporary officers, and temporary employment was the purview of the Minister responsible for Establishments. Politicians therefore cornered the market on first appointment to the Service.

Except for promotions at the level of permanent secretary and head of department which became the responsibility of the Prime Minister, the Public Service Commission retained the responsibility for promotion in the Service. Those promotions were governed by an elaborate set of procedures set out in the Public Service Regulations which provided the only obstacle preventing politicians and senior public officers from promoting their handpicked candidates.

A person who had been overlooked for promotion had an avenue for objection based on the regulations. All that changed with the passage of the Public Service Act which became effective on December 31, 2007. That Act wiped out any semblance of fair play that existed under the old regulations.

Promotions in the Public Service are now purportedly done in accordance with the Recruitment and Employment Code which is the First Schedule to the Public Service Act. It requires that vacancies should be advertised, and the applicants would then be interviewed. Unfortunately, for most of the best candidates, the appointments seem predetermined. We are now witnessing a phenomenon where persons are appointed to specialised areas of the Public Service without any previous exposure to the work of the particular ministry or department, on the basis that they did a good interview.

The interview plus another provision in the Act, where the Minister can change the qualifications required for a post, without notice, have been used with surgical precision to remove otherwise suitable candidates from the line up. Alternately, they have been used to ease unsuitable persons into jobs for which they were previously unqualified to the detriment of serving officers who do not have the appropriate political or familial connections.

Persons who were overlooked are then required to train the successful candidate. As a result they are poorly trained or the officers with the institutional knowledge take leave of the Public Service.

In the original Public Service Act there was a provision where departmental vacancies of less than three months could be filled from within without advertisement. It would appear that even those short term promotions were too much for officer without connections. The Act was amended in 2009 to allow those posts to be filled for up to 12 months, without reference to any officers that are serving in the particular ministry or department, simply by saying, “the Commission considers, in the interest of the Public Service, that the appointment is necessary for the effective functioning or good administration of the relevant Ministry or department”. That amendment has completed the neutering process of the Public Service Commission that was started by the constitutional amendments of 1974.

The Public Service Commission has now become a rubber stamp for the system of patronage that has now reasserted itself to become the method of appointing and promoting public officers.

115 thoughts on “Promotion In The Public Service

  1. Observer
    Please check the your information before you pontificate on this blog. Legislation does NOT fall under the purview of the Solicitor General’s Chambers. Legislation is drafted by the Parliamentary Counsel’s section of the Office of the Attorney General and is headed by the Chief Parliamentary Counsel. The Solicitor General’s Chambers is also located in the Office of the Attorney General. Both Solicitor General and Chief Parliamentary Counsel (CPC) are heads of department and are paid the same salary.

    The Chief Parliamentary Counsel can only draft legislation after the Government set the policy and issue instructions to draft legislation. The Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel does not develop legislation they merely carry out the Cabinet’s instructions. Don’t blame CPC if Government is bankrupt of ideas.

  2. As always people talking what they think rather than KNOW to be right. Keep going Caswell, FACTS always the can’t challenge you.

  3. @Caswell

    I am quite cognisant that legislation is drafted BY CPC and futher i am aware that the salaries are the same. Sometimes we miss and subsitutue SG for CPC and vice versa but we know the process.
    Even though the Governemnt migh have taken a decsiion to have a legislative agenda,, the discussions start in the line ministries and sent on file with the thinking to the relavant body for drafitng, the draft is retuned to the ministy to ensure that it reflect the wishes of the ministry and when staisfied, it is forwarded to cabinet for approval. When cabinet sings of on it, it must be laid in the house, it must also be signed by the GG and gazetted.

    You tend to believe that you are the only one that know the procedures in government.

  4. @Cawell

    You need to check and infom this medium how long the cpc takes to draft legislaltion, sometimes what appear simple takes years and years and when you have to vet some of them they dont even reflect the thinking. If you jave an axe to with the presnet govt go ahead.

    Have you really teken stock of your self, you are the only person that have the solutions to problems. You are brigther than all the people you worked with, David Simmons, Mia Mottley, the Union and the lawyers who do a little research for here and there. And what have you got to show for it?

    You have not dealt with the issue of PA which I raised in an ealier blog. You profess to be so honourable and why did you accept political job for which you were handsomely paid?

    You are not as honourable as you say you are, it is only when relationships break down that you start your mouthings about those you would have interacted with. The Union is a classic exmple.

  5. Observer
    You seem to have a personal problem with me. Abuse all you like: I refuse to let you get under my skin. If you think that the best way to to engage me and elicit a response is to be abusive, you better think again. Your behaviour is not new to me, I have dealt with IDIOTS before.

  6. @Caswell

    I have dealt with know alls like you before. Idiots should not be able to ellicit such a response from you. I have no problem with your research skills, I have a problem with your disloyalty to those you would have worked for overtime. I am one that was burnt by you, so I had to be an idiot to have believed in you and trust you.

    Trust cannot be peddled on this blog. As I said before the only loyalty you have is to your self as long as you can put down people. I have gone through a lot of the blogs since joiing this blog and reconize that you modus operandus is to sell your sellf at the expense of all. That is the problem I have with you.

    I will never call you an idiot, as it takes a thief to know one. Concentrate on moving your membership of your union from 26. I bet you that the airport guards will soon retur to the fold.

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