The Pacific Community (SPC), through support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 9 May 2023 with the Office of the Public Service Commission (OPSC) of the Government of Vanuatu to support the reformation of Vanuatu’s public service.
Through this project, OPSC will develop the Leadership and Management Competency Framework including a revised job description framework and revised guidelines for performance appraisal and ongoing management of the senior tier of public officials, with Director Generals and Directors being held to a high standard of competency and effective delivery of their duties. It will also improve human resources tools for Vanuatu’s public service to ensure Government leadership is more accountable, and efficient, and provides improved service to the Vanuatu taxpayers.
Mia Rimon, SPC’s Regional Director for Melanesia, said, “This project will be a game changer by providing the specific highly skilled training and resources needed to revise, hone, and roll out robust systems of accountability and transparency in the Public Service of Vanuatu. Through this project, all public servants will have new fit-for-purpose job descriptions that will be the basis for recruitment, succession planning, performance management and work planning.”
Martin Mahe, Chair of PSC Vanuatu at the signing of the MOU highlighted the urgent need to professionalise Vanuatu’s Public Service Commission. He said that as part of a review of the Machinery of Government, it was found that “the Human Resource Management in the Public Sector was trapped in the past, is ineffective with bottlenecks creating inefficiencies, and is no longer fit for purpose.”
“A new way forward through the internal Work Innovation Team now segueing into the Innovation and Policy Development Unit was proposed and endorsed by Government,” Mahe said.
Mahe added that the PSC envisages improvements in five strategic focus areas in 2023 through the partnership with SPC and USAID:
- Improve the 1998 public service performance management system for Director Generals and Directors;
- Performance management, including dealing with non-performance;
- Review the Public Service Act and 2008 Public Service Staff Manual; and
- Human resource research and advice to PSC.
Clay Epperson, Acting Senior Development Advisor, USAID, US Embassy to Papua New Guinea and accredited to Solomon Islands and Vanuatu emphasized that an effective and efficient OPSC is essential for good governance, one of the key pillars in any democracy.
“The United States is pleased to partner with the Government of Vanuatu to enable their goal of public service reform as part of our deepening bilateral relationship. This project represents the shared commitment between the United States and Vanuatu to strengthening democracy, enhancing security, and promoting development,” Epperson said.
Miles Young, Director of SPC’s Human Rights and Social Development Division said the support provided to PSC Vanuatu is an opportunity to reinforce the principles of a people-centred approach to development and leadership of Vanuatu’s public sector.
“Members of the civil service are the ones who work directly with the general public to deliver public goods and services such as health, education, women and social welfare services, transport and so forth,” Young said.
“Through this work, we get a remarkable opportunity to collaborate with the Vanuatu OPSC to strengthen the way in which democratic principles of gender equality, social inclusion and respect for cultural protocols are included in the way the PSC operates,” he added.
SPC will support the Vanuatu Government through its Promoting Just, Engaged, Civic-Minded and Transparent Governance (PROJECT Governance) programme with funding support from USAID.