Government Is Too Fat;Build Civil Service – Ato Coleman IMANI Fellow

The President has been advised to consolidate ministries, rationalize the headcount of his team of ministers and focus on building the organizational capability of the civil service if Government is to execute its preferred strategy and adopt policies and initiatives that would deliver on its promises to the good people of Ghana. These were the general thoughts of IMANI Fellow, Ato Coleman, when he spoke with Host of the Morning Xpress on Radio XYZ 93.1MHz, Neil Armstrong-Mortagbe. Describing the Government as being unhealthily overweight, Mr. Coleman subjected the Cabinet reshuffle to relevant analyses to throw further light on his views.

Adopting an analytical approach which focused on the Human Resource Management aspects of the first reshuffle of the Nana Akuffo-Addo led administration, Ato Coleman, Human Resource & Organizational Development Specialist, who is also a Fellow with IMANI Africa, argued that the Cabinet reshuffle was, on the face of it, a staffing decision taken by the President to manage the performance and talent of his team. Citing David Easton’s classical definition of politics as the authoritative allocation of values, Mr. Coleman submitted that the President is an employer of will and has the constitutional right to decide who gets what role, when that person assumes the role and how the person would play that role in his team. Citing literature from a recent article he had published on cabinet reshuffles beyond Ghana, Ato Coleman argued that Cabinet reshuffles as Presidential staffing decisions, provide an insight into the various talent, power and influence dynamics within the President’s core team and the wider governing political party.

Using the concept of Job Evaluation in Human Resource Management [HRM], he explained that each job role has 3 elements, namely Accountability, Technical Know-how and Problem-solving availability and this is the basis for classifying and grouping roles into cabinet, non-cabinet and deputy ministerial roles.

He explained that various elements of the reshuffle could be classified as being job rotations, job enrichment, promotions, demotions, separations and entry level appointments. In his analysis, he classified 7 out of the 15 decisions taken by the President as being job rotations; 2 as promotions and 4 being new entry ministerial level positions.

Providing examples and details to buttress his assertions, Ato Coleman indicated that that the movement of Mustapha Hamid from the high level cabinet position of Minister of Information to the position of Minister for Zongo and Inner Cities Development was a demotion since the Job Evaluation elements of his previous position were higher than those attributable to his newly assigned role. In the case of Otiko Djaba, he was surprised with the decision since in his view, she has done a good job driving many policy and legislative initiatives and innovations in social protection, gender and child rights. Even though that move was a demotion from a technical perspective [since, in Coleman’s view, the Ambassador role is appointed by the President but is not a cabinet role, and the role defers to the Minister of Foreign Affairs], it was also a positive appointment as Otiko will build new skills and expertise in international diplomacy, international relations, represent Ghana on the global stage and extend her professional networks which will prepare her for an even more senior role in the future. He opined that this was a good example of talent management.

Ato Coleman also commended the President for the coherent diversity and inclusive nature of the reshuffle in terms of gender and youth. In his view, the new role assigned to Peter Amewu, who moved from the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to the Ministry of Energy, was a step in the right direction, describing Peter Amewu as undoubtedly, a rising star in the President’s team who had shown resilience in the face of adversity in the fight against illegal mining, popularly referred to as “galamsey”.

Mr. Coleman said that staffing decisions such as cabinet reshuffles are intended to confirm satisfaction or otherwise with the performance of a Minister. Towards stimulating data-driven discourse, he advised the President to publish the 2017 annual performance assessment as well as the 2018 mid-term review of his team to enable Ghanaians form their own judgment about the performance of his team.

Mr. Coleman also referred to the 2017 annual civil service performance report and cited many challenges including inadequate number of technical staff, political interference, intrusion of special advisors and assistants into the decision space of the civil service as well as the lack of a central fund for supporting capacity building. He believes the President must rationalize the size and headcount of his team, consolidate ministries and assign the savings obtained from this rationalization to investing in the building of the organizational capability of the Civil Service as the main delivery model for executing his strategies, policies ad initiatives.