SIGNING OF PERFORMANCE CONTRACTS – 25TH MARCH 2014
SPEECH BY SECRETARY TO THE CABINET AND HEAD OF THE CIVIL SERVICE-DR. ERNEST SURRUR
Your Excellency the President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, Ministers of Government, all protocols observed. It gives me great pleasure to be with you at State House today on the occasion of the signing of performance contracts for Ministries, Councils, Agencies, Commissions, and Tertiary Institutions for the 2014 Performance Contract Year.
It is a time of reckoning on the performance of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on contract for the last year. It also marks the end of the 2013 and the formal inception of the 2014 performance cycles respectively. It is a momentous and historic occasion as we reflect on the achievements and challenges experienced by Government in 2013, and the ambitious targets we have set for 2014 performance cycles respectively.
It is a momentous as well as quite a historic one as those of us present here today will one day in future proudly say I was there and was a part of this.
As you may be aware, the performance contracting system was borne out of H.E. the President’s vision to run this country like a business. To do this required accountability, transparency, timely delivery of services and effective provision of answers to the demands of citizens from public servants. The performance contract system is an important and strategic means of achieving this. We are gathered here today to receive acknowledgement of stewardship in the last year, to recognize good performance and to re-contract and recommit ourselves, to service and delivery for the year 2014.
Sierra Leone formally introduced performance contracting in 2008 for Ministries as a tool for improving public service delivery starting from the highest level; with the aim of cascading the same to all levels of Government. From 2010 onwards the number of entities under contract progressively expanded and now includes agencies, commissions, district, municipal and city councils, tertiary institutions, Permanent Secretaries and Directors General.
The expanded scope of the work saw the gracious approval by H.E. the President of the creation of the Performance Management and Service Delivery Directorate (PMSD) in the Office of the Chief of Staff (OCOS). This unit is specifically dedicated to performance management and public service delivery across Government. Of course this is done in collaboration with other agencies of government in the same sector, such as the Cabinet Secretariat and Office of the Head of the Civil Service, the Human Resource Management Office (HRMO) and Ministries/Departments/Agencies (MDAs).
Over the years the President has shown strong political will towards transparency and openness in this exercise demonstrated through public annual signings taking place under media spotlight, open peer reviews, rating and ranking and government support to the process.
Under the President’s leadership, Sierra Leone has made great leaps forward with its performance contracting system, contributing to improvements in its governance ranking on important indices. The MO Ibrahim Index listed Sierra Leone as one of four top improvers in its 2013 report. The President intends for Sierra Leone to become a leader on the continent in performance contracting and a centre of knowledge from which other countries can learn.
Government recognizes that performance contracting is essential to driving a step change in government effectiveness and pre-requisite to the growth path of Sierra Leone in embarking upon in its vision to achieve middle income status by 2035. Government has therefore identified performance contracting as a flagship programme under the ‘Agenda for Prosperity’ and has agreed that by the end it will publish all Ministries’ performance targets and achievements, under the Sierra Leone Pay and Performance Project.
As we go through this exercise, we do not want it to become another routine public service event, but will be taken seriously by all public sector practitioners. As leaders, we should strive to promulgate policies, adapt best practice and put in place systems and structures that will make our various arms of Government well managed. Time for waste in government is gone.
We must position ourselves to contribute positively to the economy and good governance. We must justify our existence to the tax payers. We must be effective facilitators and catalysts of our economic growth. We must embrace a culture of performance and accountability across Government. We must use our limited resources effectively. We must achieve the vision captured in the Agenda for Prosperity, and we must fulfill on our promise to the people of Sierra Leone. As people in positions of responsibility, Sierra Leoneans are looking up to us to ensure that we conduct the affairs of the Government in a transparent, responsible, effective and efficient manner. And mind you the people are our masters and we are public servants.
Ladies and gentlemen, I take this opportunity to congratulate you for the dedication to service in your area of responsibility in Government. In particular I thank you for the role you have played in developing the strategic plans and targets and for making sure that these plans are translated into specific work plans and action points that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. As you draw the work plans for 2014 we hope that your strategic plans are aligned to the ‘Agenda for Prosperity’. Think your MDA but have the development of the nation as the ultimate target.
I am informed that the process leading to today’s event of signing the performance contracts has been exhaustive. It has been consultative, interactive and thorough. Noting that the contracts were freely negotiated, I do not expect any Ministry, Agency and Commission, Council or Tertiary Institution to fail to meet its target outlined in the performance contract for 2014. This is because the targets were set by you, negotiated to ensure they were realistic, and will fulfill the aspirations of the people of this country.
At this juncture, distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to invite the citizens of Sierra Leone to incite the President to hold all of us to account for non performance on these agreements. I therefore look forward to all of you achieving an “excellent” score in 2014. To the high performers of 2013, I say congratulations. To those who did not do so well, there is room for improvement as it is not only about rating but also raising performance.
We want to acknowledge the invaluable role of our development partners in this process and continue to look forward to increased partnership and also acknowledge civil society and other non-state actors. Let us continue to improve on performance and make Sierra Leone a better place for all.
I sincerely thank you for your undivided attention.