In this series, we invite readers to send questions to select public figures. Answers will be published in the next online edition.
There was a time during the current government when it was said that 40,000 civil servants risked being retrenched. That did not happen. Are these employees being properly utilised? Githuku Mungai, Nairobi
The Capacity Assessment and Rationalisation of the Public Service (CARPS) Programme was intended to establish the existing human resource capacity at the national and county government levels with a view to recommending optimal staffing levels based on re-aligned structures.
The CARPS programme has established the gaps in the service and proposed a redistribution of human resource to cover areas of shortfall, reduce on excesses and remove duplications. Further, it is estimated that approximately 5,000 civil servants will exit the service in the next two years due to natural attrition. The employees are, therefore, well utilised.
I am a civil servant employed in 1988 with a first degree as an Information Officer. For 28 years I have worked diligently yet, as I stare at retirement, I have only moved from Job Group H to N. Isn’t there a policy that civil servants should be promoted after every three years? Can I seek redress for denied promotions? Are there privileged ministries where workers move up faster than others? Justus Kyalo, Machakos
The standards on promotion in the public service are based on qualifications, experience and performance. Further, the existence of vacancies determines how many officers can move to the next grade. The terminal point for certificate holders is Job Group ‘K’, Diploma Holders terminate at Job Group ‘N’, degree holders terminate at Job Group ‘S’.
The three years requirement is subject to meeting the above conditions. The norms and standards regarding promotion apply across all cadres and ministries. However, you may appeal to the Commission if you feel aggrieved.
Madam chair, kindly clarify where teachers fall in the categorisation of government employees and how come on matters of their pay, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission seems to leave teachers out of their reviews. Makoba Kizito, Nairobi
Teachers are public servants but their terms and conditions of service are managed under the Teachers Service Commission which is independent. However, the terms and conditions for teachers as well as their grading structure have been equated with the existing civil service grades.
Madam, as the chair of PSC which is also in charge of human resource management of the Kenya Prisons Service, why is the Prisons Department not implementing the dictates of the guidelines provided by the policies and procedural manual concerning the types of leave allowed. For example, compassionate leave is not in existence, paternity leave is calculated inclusive of weekends and pass days are deducted from the annual leave. What steps are you going to take to rectify this? Andrew Omboki Kehancha
The Human Resource Policies and Procedures Manual for the Public Service (May 2016) stipulates that paternity leave is for a maximum period of 10 working days and is applicable once per year with the officer required to produce a notification of birth of child or an adoption order.
However, in case of those who have more than one wife, this applies to the wife registered with the National Hospital Insurance Fund. The Commission undertakes to find out through its HR Audit if the policies and procedures manual is not being implemented and bring this to the attention of authorised officers.
Prof Kobia, what is the PSC doing to address the alleged employment of persons with bogus certifications and fake certificate holders occupying senior positions and/or getting promoted in government? Derek Liech, Mombasa County
The Commission does due diligence when conducting recruitment and selection. However, officers whose cases have been detected either during or after the conclusion of the selection have been dismissed from the service.
The Commission is also conducting a verification exercise of all academic certificates with the various issuing institutions to ensure only those with genuine certificates are offered jobs in the Public Service. The authorised officers are expected to conduct verification of certificates before any new appointment is formalised.
Why is the prisons scheme of service that was designed by the PSC discriminating against serving junior officers who have acquired certificates, diplomas, higher diplomas and degrees while still in service and yet it recognises new officers with similar papers who are entering the service? Isn’t this a violation of Article 27 of the Constitution? Why did the PSC give few promotion slots across the ranks of constable to inspectorate in the just-concluded promotions interviews considering the number of officers who have furthered their studies?
Andrew Maranga, Malindi
The PSC acts as a recruitment agency for ministries or departments but they are the ones who generate the indents that guide the filling of vacancies based on their approved establishment and existing vacancies. The indents or advertisements are also guided by the respective schemes of service which stipulate how an officer should progress from one job group to another.
The Commission also acknowledges that serving officers have acquired additional qualifications, but the openings or vacancies at the entry point for the cadres that require the above qualifications are few and indeed when they are available all those who meet the stipulated requirements are encouraged to apply. There is no discrimination at all.
How does PSC rank among others in Africa and globally?
Peter Ongera, Kitengela
As the chairperson, I would not hesitate to state that the Commission ranks high though there is no study that has been conducted. This is based on the many countries and institutions that benchmark with us annually.
The Dock Workers Union recently announced key agreements with the government, among them promotion of workers based on experience, competence and long service instead of only academic qualifications. Can this be applied across the board to include civil servants whose promotion to certain senior positions is strictly pegged on higher academic credentials hence locking out hardworking diploma or first degree holders? Promotions based on one’s proficiency and merit should also be encouraged so as to motivate industrious officers. What happened to the exemptions PSC used to offer to accelerate promotions to non-degree holders but highly skilled officers?
James Murimi, Kwale
The Commission, in its recruitment and selection process, considers not only academic qualifications but also experience and performance. The Commission has from 2014 introduced the Public Servant of the Year Award (PSOYA) to recognise exemplary performance outside the normal promotion channels.
The nominees are identified through a participatory process and they are recommended by the Ministry’s Human Resource Management Advisory Committee whose membership is drawn from the top leadership of each ministry, department or agency.
The government has always cited the ballooning wage bill as one of the reasons why increasing salaries of workers is unsustainable. The opposition has continuously blamed government for this scenario because of the existence of the Provincial Administration which has caused duplication of duties at the county government level. They insist that this section of government was to be restructured as per the Constitution promulgated in 2010. What is your take on this as the chair of PSC?
Komen Moris, Eldoret
Indeed, the Constitution provides for the restructuring of the system previously known as Provincial Administration. The National Government Co-ordination Act has expounded the roles of the Provincial Administration. The roles are not in conflict and help to resolve even inter-county issues and shared resources. The co-ordination of security is a key role for this office.
Madam chair, what measures has the PSC taken to curb the rising cases of corruption in the public sector in the future? Machira Brian, Nyeri County
The Commission is continually promoting the principles and values stipulated in the Constitution and the Public Service (Values and Principles) Act 2015.
This is done through sensitisation programmes and partnering with relevant agencies mandated to tackle the malaise. PSC has issued a code of conduct for Public Officers and continuously monitors the application of the Public Officer Ethics Act. Those found culpable are dismissed. Public Officers are also expected to declare their wealth biannually as a way of instilling a culture of accountability.
One of the key roles of PSC is to hire professionals. There has been the question of inequity in salaries and PSC tried to do harmonisation. What has been the achievement so far and why do we still have industrial action, like the current doctors’ strike?
Paul Mwari Maina, Nyeri
The mandate of ensuring equity and harmonisation of salaries in the public service lies with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission who I believe are handling the matter.
In the recent past, some top civil servants stepped aside and the posts were not filled or advertised. Does this mean that these positions were redundant and for how long should a civil servant step aside or be on suspension and on what terms?
Paul Gesimba, Nairobi
Stepping aside allows the Government to investigate the underlying issues while giving the officer a chance to exculpate himself or herself. Other competent officers are identified to perform the job or task of those who have been asked to step aside as government business must continue. There is, therefore, no vacuum at any given time and there is no wastage of taxpayer funds.
When a person leaves the Teachers Service Commission to join a state corporation, does he lose all his pension benefits? I have been in a five year correspondence with TSC with no success. How can one transfer his hard earned benefits to current pension scheme?
The provisions of the Pension Act (Cap 189) stipulate the requirements upon which one can draw a pension or transfer one’s service from TSC or any other institution.
Madam, the law forbids people from the same ethnic group to exceed a certain percentage in staffing in one governmental institution or organisation. Recent surveys across institutions of higher learning revealed shocking infringement on this law. In some institutions, one ethnic group dominates staffing of over 80 per cent. What is your commission doing to correct this? Edward Wanjala Mangoli, Kabuchai
It is true that some institutions are not ethnically diverse. This has been a historical challenge which the Commission has addressed by providing guidelines on how to bring on board inclusivity.
The Commission applies the following criteria:
i. Wide circulation of job advertisement to all parts of the country to reach all ethnic groups through newspaper, websites, all County Public Service Boards, All County Commissioners;
ii. Application of the proportional population. Contribution by each ethnic group to the national population (2009 census) to achieve proportional contribution to the civil service
iii. Development of an equalisation formula to achieve proportionality within five years; and
iv Special consideration for marginalised/minority groups in the recruitment/entry into the civil service.
This is done and considered at the time of recruitment and selection during all new appointments. However, the fruits of this will be visible in the next few years but the current data on the recruitment to the civil service from 2013 can attest to this. The latest data on this is available on the annual reports to Parliament and the President. The reports are available in the Commission’s website: www.publicservice.go.ke.
Dear Professor, public servants have stagnated in the same job group for long. I work for the Ministry of Health at the National Government in Nairobi and we look forward to your intervention.
Hilary Kimeli, Nairobi
Recruitment and promotion of officers in the Public Service is guided by uniform norms and standards defined in schemes of service and career progression guidelines.
An officer may, however, stagnate due to the following conditions: lack of the requisite qualifications to progress to the next grade; lack of vacancies in the next grade; if the officer has a poor service record including indiscipline and non-performance at the current grade.