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Oyo-Ita’s ‘EPIC’ Approach To Civil Service Reform

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By Ifeanyi Omokwe –

The Federal Civil Service as a politically-independent machinery of the government has taken a major step in charting a new course for itself in a bid to make it efficient, productive, incorruptible and citizen-centred (EPIC).

This was the term used by the head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, recently at the inauguration of the project management teams for the implementation of the 2017-2020 Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan (FCSSIP), a feat described by many as a step in the right direction. Since the inception of the civil service decades back, the service has yet to come up with a clear-cut prioritised strategy to drive its transformation like the three-year strategic plan conceived by Oyo-Ita and her team of expertise to truly actualise the mission and vision of the Federal Civil Service.

One would wonder what the 2017-2020 Strategic Plan for the Federal Civil Service is. Launched in February 2017 and approved by the Federal Executive Council in July, the FCSSIP is a three-year strategic plan to reposition the Nigerian Federal Civil Service in eight priority areas identified and selected based on their potential for impact in the short-term and their relevance to the economic recovery and growth plan of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s  administration.

Mrs Oyo-Ita gave the priority areas of the FCSSIP as to:   “Re-design and re-launch three core-training modules, including Leadership Enhancement and Development Programme (LEAD-P) as a top talent programme.

“Launch a strategic sourcing of identified skills to bring in external talent at senior levels to drive high-level impact.

“Institutionalise performance management by finalising the performance management system, piloting tools and introducing non-monetary recognition.

“Launch a salary review of the civil service as a first step to enhance the value proposition of civil servants.

“Drive innovation in service by an establishing public service innovation unit within the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, and launching an innovation challenge towards reducing cost of governance and increasing revenue generation.

“Launch an EPIC culture transformation of the civil service. Accelerate roll-out of the full implementation of Integrated Personnel and Pay Roll Information System (IPPIS) human resource module. Establish an enterprise content management solution to digitize content.”

Objectives:

There are established extant rules and regulations that serve as internal control mechanisms in the civil service that need to be strengthened and enforced. These include, but not limited, to public service rules, financial regulations, prepayment audit, compliance with circulars, laws and the Nigerian Constitution. Following the development, the OHCSF outlined a set of objectives to see through the implementation of the agenda to transform the civil service.

Developing an efficient, productive, incorruptible and citizen-centred, EPIC culture. The EPIC culture is to build upon the core values of the service which are meritocracy, transparency, professionalism, anonymity, integrity, discipline, impartiality, political neutrality, patriotism, and accountability.  Develop an enterprise content management system to improve efficiency and eliminate redundancy through digital transformation.  Develop entrepreneurship culture and commercial orientation aimed at transforming the civil service from being a cost centre completely reliant on government funding to a revenue generator.

Improving the welfare of civil servants in terms of compensation, housing support and pensions.    These goals will engender the transition of the civil service to a world-class with positive attitudes, requisite skills, productive and highly-motivated workforce.  Compared to other efforts introduced by past administrations, this strategy has the likelihood of success going by the instruments put in place by the Oyo-Ita leadership of the civil service. Firstly, a detailed strategy report articulating prioritised list of interventions that drive impact in the short-term.

Secondly, a detailed plan to roll out interventions with clear owners and milestones; estimated costs, impact and resourcing strategies over the 2017-2020 period. Thirdly, a clearly-defined governance to drive each reform and track overall progress-dedicated project management teams.

Also, a clearly defined partnership value propositions to support implementation, champion initiatives and bring capabilities. Lastly, the current administration has come up with a clear-change management and communication plan to ensure stakeholder buy-in and embed the strategy.

What To Expect: Speaking at the inauguration of the project management teams last week, Mrs Oyo-Ita assured Nigerians that the 2017-2020 strategy is one to look forward to as it will be a win-win for the country.   According to her, the implementation of the strategy is expected to deliver about N120 billion savings from cleaning human resource data on the Integrated Personnel and Pay Roll Information System (IPPIS), and about N2.5 billion annual savings from digitizing content.

She also assured that about 25,000 civil servants will be trained through the revamped core modules, with over 200 leaders cultivated through the Leadership Enhancement and Development Programme (LEAD-P).  Also, 25 ministries with performance management system tools, routines, and dialogues to drive results-based performance and at least three annual innovation challenges held to cultivate ideas, technologies and ventures for enhanced service delivery, efficiency and productivity in the public service.

The HoS further said the outcomes of the strategy would include but not limited to: “Improved staff competencies and skills through well-targeted funded programmes across all grade levels. “Result-based performance and meritocratic environment for civil servants with clarity on metrics and links to incentives.

“A clear-career path value proposition, such as trainings, salaries, benefits, that retain top talents. Cohort of senior external experts providing high-impact support. A more innovative civil service that brings in innovation from within and outside the service to improve service delivery via dedicated innovation units and innovation challenges. A value-driven civil service with civil servants who are efficient, productive, incorruptible and citizen-centred.

“Improved productivity and governance for human resource administration across all human resource processes. Improved-enterprise content management with digitized records, automated workflow and overall improvement in sharing information and collaboration across the civil service.”

The successful implementation of the 2017-2020 Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan will generate a crop of skilled, motivated, disciplined and innovative civil servants that will change the current perception of Nigerian civil servants and foster robust linkages between the public and private sectors in fast-tracking the socio-economic development of Nigeria.

This will most importantly form the bedrock for the successful implementation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic recovery and growth plan and a global upward ranking trend for Nigeria on the ease of doing business.

– Omokwe wrote from Abuja



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