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Submitted by Sylvester Odhiambo Obong'o, PhD on

Dear Daniel,

Thank you very much for this post and for sharing your observations from the survey. I hope it can be expanded to other countries. Developing countries public/civil service are a product of diverse influences, ranging from pre-colonial systems and structures, colonial influences, post independence experiences to development partners - conditionalities for assistance and even most crucially the nature of political regime. Understanding the "bureaucrat" is hence crucial.

Before sharing my experience, I wish to may be seek the following clarifications:

1. In your findings in the study- where performance is a factor in promotion- to what levels can such performance propel one to? to the highest or middle level?;
2. Another interesting phenomenon is the "criss-crossing hustler", are they moving department to the other in search of promotions(higher grades)? and when they move do they change designations or they retain the same designation?

This is an interesting approach to understanding the bureaucracy in developing countries and would wish to follow through the debate. I would not mind running the same questionnaire in Kenya and see what responses I would get. Having said that I wish to note the following about the Kenyan Civil Service, which has a huge influence on the TEXTURE

1. Appointment to the top levels in the Civil Service- that what was Permanent Secretary prior to 2010 and what is now Principal Secretary is Political. Even though previously most permanent secretaries came from within the public service, appointment was based on patronage. Then and now the Principal Secretary- has a degree of influence on who becomes a director or any other position below - which in principle are supposed to be competitively filled on merit and performance. It is nevertheless possible to find within this second level officers who have risen through the ranks purely on merit.

2. Career civil servants in Kenya have taken different routes towards the top, thus to director level positions- especially for those positions that require general degrees such as- Probation Officers, Social Workers, Human Resource etc. A social worker today can therefore apply for an HR position in another ministry if it is a higher job group than where they are currently serving and be appointed if they meet the requirements for that position which in most cases are relatively general fitting a broad section of employees. So a typical director in Department such as probation, social work or even gender- is someone who has worked in several departments, and whose single most motivation is search for a position, higher than what they had been holding and whose requirement they met. In such cases civil servants have sort re-designations to career paths (schemes of service) perceived to be progressive. I have my reservations for such career paths, but that is a discussion for another day.

For cadres such as engineers, economists and doctors its is possible to see a clear path as guided by a scheme of service.

Academic qualifications is a prerequisite for promotions in Kenya. In fact for entry level management positions a bachelors degree is a minimum and promotion to the next grade will probably require a Masters Degree.

The Kenyan public service is therefore a mixed grill- But it would be interesting to see what lessons your survey has for Kenya. To what extent - Can such data be used to inform targeting of specific reforms to a specific group;
- If a country gets comprehensive statistics on the nature or "profile" of its civil service, is it possible to use that to influence policy decisions and developing better strategies for not only managing but also reforming the public service?

Lastly in case you are interested in learning more about the Kenyan Public Service- My PhD Research Thesis at the University of Newcastle-
Australia covers more or less similar ground- It was titled "Political Influence, Appointments, Public Service Management and Reforms 1963-2014"

Sylvester Odhiambo Obong'o, PhD,
Performance Management and Public Service Reforms;
Public Service Commission- Kenya.