Background and Context to the CDM
The Government of Ghana (GoG) has published and launched the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA), a forward-looking medium-term national development plan for 2010-2013. Fundamental to the achievement of this policy agenda is the support of a professional, effective, and efficient public service.
However, as the GSGDA points out, and as supported by evidence in analyses and assessments over the years, capacity issues in the public sector present a significant challenge to Ghana’s development, especially as it moves towards upper middle income status.
The GSGDA identifies the need to “upgrade the capacity of the public service for transparent, accountable, timely, effective performance and service delivery” as a key policy objective. It highlights also the need to mainstream gender into these public sector and human resource reforms.
Government has over the years implemented a number of capacity development initiatives supported by Development Partners (DPs). However, these have had limited desired impacts. Assessments have indicated that some of the initiatives have tended to be un-coordinated, unsustainable and not based on any mechanism for determining strategic development priorities. These have resulted in duplication of efforts and waste of scarce resources, gaps in priorities, ineffective application of training skills and competencies.
The Government of Ghana has, therefore, identified public sector capacity as a priority area for cooperation with DPs and this priority has been reinforced in policy dialogue at the high level Consultative Group meetings as well as within the Multi-Donor Budget Support (MDBS) context.
Capacity issues have also been highlighted in the GoG’s New Approach to Public Sector Reform which is geared towards having Sector Ministries assume responsibility for, and become pro-active in tapping resources for reforms and for their sector programmes. The approach is, therefore, sector-driven and answers the question ‘reform for what’?
The New Approach also calls for the strengthening of Ministerial organizations and hence, the public services, and the need to make leadership of the public services real partners to the political leadership.
In the New Approach to Public Sector Reform, MDAs will identify key programmes and projects within their sector strategic plans, the mode of funding for the programmes and projects, as well as the financing gap and capacity challenges.
Public sector leaders and managers in Ghana are already articulating capacity development needs within the framework of organizational change. Chief Directors at engagement on the challenges they face in implementing the New Approach spoke, for example, about the need for completely re-orienting areas of their organization to be able to meet objectives – and actions – related to Public-Private Partnerships.
Others spoke of their lack of capacity to analyse and evaluate proposals from international bidders for large-scale initiatives. Still others described their constraints, beyond specific technical IT skills, in the actual management of new processes of electronic service delivery.
While in some cases, these types of needs could be addressed by specific skill training; in other cases a much more holistic approach is needed. Capacity development in this case might involve new organizational structures, management processes, and staff re-deployment, fostering culture change within their own organization in “how we do things”, as well as new modes of collaboration with other organizations in their sector or another sector.
The demand for capacity development is therefore being expressed clearly. It is about leadership and human resources, institutional arrangements, knowledge access and learning, and state-society accountability mechanisms that push for and lead to greater human development. National capacity development strategies that emphasize these elements are emerging to underpin development plans.
In sum, the CDM is geared towards supporting proposals that can bring about long-term and sustainable capacity in Ghana’s public services, by focusing on the concept of organizational change for performance improvement.
Piloting the Capacity Development Mechanism (CDM)
GoG, after consultations with key stakeholders and DPs and in conjunction with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), decided to develop a GoG managed Capacity Development Mechanism (CDM) on a pilot basis in the spirit of ‘learning by doing’.
The focus of the mechanism is to support a manageable set of high-priority capacity development activities that will produce short term results and also provide support on cross-cutting themes in public management that are relevant to many Central Management Agencies (CMAs) and Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and that in essence form the basis for a professional civil and public service.
The idea is to approach capacity development in the public sector in a holistic manner and in a harmonized way to avoid duplication of efforts and waste of resources. It is anticipated that in the future funding from any DP for capacity development could be channeled through the CDM, in order to maximize all resources for effective results.
The ultimate objective is to have an all-inclusive mechanism which can serve the Government’s strategic capacity development needs, bringing together both Government and DP contributions and synchronizing them through the national budget process.
The CDM pilot is providing for a set-up of mechanism, as well as support for initial projects which can help to test, demonstrate results, and inform long term design.