Abuse and Misuse of Public Service Rules

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

I have heard it said: what happens in the dark will be revealed in the light of day. That saying came home forcefully when I picked up the Official Gazette of January 19, 2012, and saw a notice which stated that a clerical officer was appointed to act as Chief Licensing Officer with effect from July 18, 2011 to August 26, 2011. Public Service wide, that officer would have superseded in excess of one thousand persons.

When this appointment was first made, the Nation carried a story on July 26, 2011 where the Chairman of the Public Service Commission disavowed any knowledge of the acting arrangements. Quoting from the Nation:

When contacted yesterday, chairman of the Public Service Commission, Besley Maycock, said he was unaware of any arrangements being made for a temporary replacement for Acting Chief Licensing Officer Virgil Knight. “Nothing has reached here yet”.

That statement was made on September 25, 2011 which is one week after the person had been acting according to the Official Gazette. The question therefore must be, if the Chairman knew nothing of the arrangements: who made the appointment?

In 1974, by virtue of the power conferred on him by section 95 of the Constitution, the Governor-General delegated the power to make acting appointments to departmental posts, in the salary scale up to and including Z9 – 1, for a period not exceeding three months, to permanent secretaries and heads of department. However, there was one major restriction: the person appointed must be the senior person eligible for such acting. The salary attached to the post of Chief Licensing Officer is S6 in the scale which at present is $7,345.20 per month. The permanent secretary can make acting appointments up to a salary of Z1 which is presently $5,709.22. It is therefore clear that the acting appointment could not be properly or legally made by the Permanent Secretary.

Since the permanent secretary could not make the acting appointment then who did? The Governor-General has delegated the power to make acting appointments, to post held by heads of department, to the Chairman of the Public Service Commission. But he claims no knowledge of the appointment prior to it being made. This appointment was made in the dark of ignoring the Public Service rules and has now come out in the light of the Official Gazette six months after the fact.

If this appointment were an aberration, I would say that people make mistakes and move on, but acting contrary to the rules has now become the norm in the Public Service. The amendments to the Public Service Act that were passed in January 2010 effectively legitimized the non observance of the rules. One would have expected that the powers that be would follow the now carefully designed rules which have the effect of lowering the morale in the service to unprecedented levels. Instead, when a situation arose that was not in their contemplation, public service managers chose to ignore the new rules too.

Hardworking and qualified public servants who do not have lodge, familial or political connections find it extremely difficult to gain promotion. A system of interviews has been introduced that is more often than not used to bypass suitable candidates. Other times they just change the academic qualifications required for the post immediately prior to publishing the advertisement for the post. As a result of these manipulations to accommodate their unqualified friends, they sometimes end up with a situation where a person requires lesser qualification to be head of department than is required for junior officers in the same department.

There are too many disgruntled public servants who were aggrieved by unfair practices. As a result, and in many cases the unfair treatment meted out to them is reflected in the service that they deliver. In order to get the Public Service functioning at acceptable levels, government must first establish a commission of enquiry to examine and report on the operations of all aspects of government service employment, including statutory boards. Failing that Government would continue to receive diminishing returns for the money that it expends on the Public Service.

19 thoughts on “Abuse and Misuse of Public Service Rules

  1. @ Caswell;

    But is not your main man FS in charge of the Civil Service? According to you, isn’t he an honest and upright man who believes in the rule of law?
    Or are you have a volte-face on his true political character?

  2. @Caswell

    how come you aint hear about the supervisor B at Public Works who has been promoted to act senior accountant and the fellar she replaced when straight to jenkins. check it out.

    How come the credit union restructered the post of finance officer pnly. Is something fishy going on and the had to get she out of the way. how come an insitution like that got rid of its fancance manager post? I smell a rat, u like u losing it get cracking on this,

  3. this is good advertisment for Unity Union, maybe, I would get my friends to join your union instead of NUPW, since they should have been on this case. Is BU giving you thisa ad free?

  4. @The Scout

    As a social commentator Caswell does more than most in this country. Why don’t you cut the guy some slack. No need to hold the fact he went to Combermere against him 🙂

  5. Miller

    I can see that you really do not understand how the Public Service should work. The Minister responsible for the Public Service has no power to appoint, discipline or promote any public officer. Those functions are the responsibility of the Governor-General acting on the advice of an independent Public Service Commission. The Prime Minister should be consulted on the appointment of permanent secretaries and heads of department and their deputies, and he can reassign permanent secretaries. That is the extent of the power of the prime minister to legally intervene in the Public Service.

    Thank you. NUPW refused to deal with the matter at the Licensing Authority because the current Acting chief Licensing Officer is a shop steward and also a friend of the General Secretary. The person who was qualified to to act had been superseded and sought assistance from the NUPW: it hasn’t come so far.

  6. david
    What has going to Cawmere got to do with it? Did I mention anything about that school? I mentioned two items (1) Free advertisement for his union,(2) he is your friend and mentor. Deal with that

  7. @Caswell Franklyn | February 11, 2012 at 9:15 PM |
    “I can see that you really do not understand how the Public Service should work. The Minister responsible for the Public Service has no power to appoint, discipline or promote any public officer.”

    Caswell, “should work” is normative and is far from the realities surrounding the actual day-to-day administration of personnel deployment.
    The Civil Service has become highly politicised and very few appointments (temporary or permanent – from the messenger to the PS) escape the direct involvement and ultimate backing of party political interests.
    They way the rules “ought” to work and the realities on the ground are always in conflict, especially in light of a cadre of timid, party aligned senior bureaucrats.

    • Miller

      I do not argue with you on that score. You are absolutely correct, but it is against the law, especially the intent of the Constitution of Barbados. Politicians have no legal role in determining the recruitment, appointment, promotion or discipline of public officers. All of us know that there is interference but that is what the unions should be complaining about. But how could they when the same unions call upon politicians to intervene when it suits them.

      I could only guess but I believe that the reason Jeff Broomes is still at the Alexandra School is that the Prime Minister can only meet and make promises to the BSTU: he has no power to enforce any promise. He still have to go through the process.

      Politicians have to allow the Public Service do its work, but as you suggested the problem comes from party aligned senior bureaucrats. You did not say incompetent but politician manoeuvre incompetent persons into senior positions so that the politician can control everything which results in a highly inefficient Public Service.

  8. @Caswell and David

    have some investigation done on what year the guy enteted the service and he is a clerical officer acting accountant. He jumped ahead of a number of people in the service and he is not even appointed accountant, Caswell u now know about this. The FC was given some one as senior accountant form the registry at mtw and the poor child aint got a clue about govt accounting, the only account she knows is the one she did a cave hill in the class room. The more things change, the more they remain the same,

  9. Barbados under another Owen Arthur regime … give me a f*ckin’ break! I would like Mr Stuart to step aside … or perhaps an intervention from the Divine, me being an atheist and all …!

  10. Blogger2012

    BTW it seems that you worship this David guy … ! Maybe you and Caswell should have a good talk, assuming you are a guy of course …!

  11. @BABBF

    I would not like to see owen as pm in barbados again, The man is vindictive.

    U know i will challenge caswell and david. I have a mind of my own, so have no fear, i cannot be manipulated.

  12. this nonsense has been going on at licensing for a while, What is Virgil Knight’s qualification and what would have qualified him for the acting appointment in the first place, what was his post at the Government Electrical Engineering Department where he worked prior to being transferred to Licensing? had he completed the degree he was pursuing for over 10 years when he was given the acting appointment before Mr Atherley who would have been working at licensing and had the requisite qualification?

  13. well take note that the same supervisor B at Public Works who has been promoted to act senior accountant took emergency vacation in crunch time (end of financial year) to conduct on a mini van servicing the pine route. But got the gall to tell people that they can’t do anything with her because the senior accountant job belong to her.

  14. This ‘conductor’ freelancing as a ‘Ag Sen Acct’, is the most immature person to hold that office.The mini-bus routine is no story, she was observed, and came face to face with some officers who actually caught the van (B102) who were quite shocked to see her collecting fares, and sitting with her foot up on the engine, a van which her ex-man currently drives, This same supervisor B’ (Acting Sen Acct ) apparently have so-called “Big Friends ” in high places, after all ,was it not the “Deep Voiced” parliamentary representative who insisted that she be given the job ( whether she can function or NOT), and her “very close” affiliation with a married man( ahem…Permanent Sect ) whom she was caught parked out with down in a south coast Bay named after a manta ray ( colloquial term ), Also she has been observed going and coming from the Principal Personnel’s Office carrying news and complaint letters on anyone who challenges her mediocre ability .( I should know, I got a complaint letter dropped on my desk from her, after it was made without informing me of any charges). The only time she has kept a low profile is after her ‘man’ flood she in blows in the office in the wee hrs of a not so distant morning. Mr.P.P.O needs to stop encouraging this nasty behavior, and punishing anyone she reports without a fair hearing, its time she and you be removed, the inefficient,wicked, malicious behavior has fester long enough.. The same General Orders that she likes to quote at meetings….Govern ALL Public Officers ..INCLUDING HER and YOU…( DO not the same general orders state , “an appointed officer may not act in a higher post more than two scales above their substantive post”…..she is acting five scales above.
    Gen Order rule 3.8.1 states ” Public Officers whether on leave of absence or not, are FORBIDDEN –

    (a) to under take any private work for payment or to engage in trade or employ themselves in any commercial or undertaking without the consent of the appropriate Service Commission; and such consent shall be SUBJECT to the prior consultation by the Commission with the Prime Minister;

    (b) to undertake any private agency in any matter connected with the exercise of their public duties.

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