Rebuilding public administration becomes an urgent reform of government in nations like Liberia recouping from civil war, insurrections, or outside military invasions. Rebuilding a vibrant administration is at the crux of post-conflict reconstruction (Rondinelli, 2006). The assertion offered by Rondinelli (2006), is confirmed by the creation of the Governance Commission of Liberia in August 2003 amid the Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA). One of the central guidelines of Governance Commission is to advance reform, proficiency, and transparency in the public sector of Liberia thereby suggesting rationalization of institutional orders and structures; coordination, capacity building and designed an appropriate merit-based system (GC, 2003).
Anazodo, Okoye, and Emma (2012) affirmed that countries throughout the world are presently in the corridor to construct a resilient civil service that will adequately give the proficient and viable service delivery that reinforces establishments and add to the adequacy and efficiencies of a nation’s developmental activities. Public sector reform of which civil service reform is a subset is one of the critical elements that strengthens institutions and contribute to the effectiveness and efficiencies of a country’s public sector leading to developmental activities (Zazay, 2015). Kwaghga (2010) characterized the civil service as a collection of men and ladies who utilized their capacities on a non-political basis as ordered by the positions which they occupy in the bureaucracy, fundamentally, they are charged to render basic social services, and also plan and execute the approaches of the government. Civil service as a body ought to be neutral in administering their assigned obligations as far governance is concerned.
Civil service reform is an activity that enhances the proficiency, efficiency, refined skill, representativity and democratic character of a civil service, which is premised on the enhancement of better public service delivery of depended public goods and services, along these lines advancing accountability, which is one of the elements of good governance (Rao, 2013). As indicated by Repucci (2014) civil service reform is one of the most obstinate yet important challenges for governments and their supporters today.
Mutahaba and Kiragu (2002) asserted that the force that propelled the wave of Public Sector Reform (PSR) in Africa, just like the case in other developing nations, emerged out of the macroeconomic and financial reforms that were introduced and supported by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Unlike the first wave of reform that was instituted by the World bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) which was entrenched in the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs), as was asserted by Mutahaba and Kiragu (2002,) in the case of Liberia, several years of civil upheaval in Liberia decimated the agency and demolished the merit instituted recruiting framework by disregarding standards and methods of employment thus recruiting unprofessional individuals of different warring factions that exacerbated the civil decadence. As the result of an unprofessional system, the civil service was evident by a disorganized service delivery that negatively affected the full implementation of policies and programs, consequently leading to inadequate service delivery in Liberia (Nyemah, 2009).
This predicament of the underserved and unqualified workers in the civil service as indicated by Zazay (2015), led to an incompetent civil service that had a negative influenced on service delivery in Liberia. The civil service was extremely weakened and did not have professionals and the institutional systems expected to accomplish the basic results for social improvement. In President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s quest of restoring the Liberia Civil service from this problem, the government of Liberia in June of 2008, implemented its civil service reform strategy called the “Small government, Better services” that consisted of five distinct orientations, namely: restructuring and rightsizing, pay and pension reforms, develop leadership, gender equity in the service, and improving service delivery (Nyemah, 2009.)
As per Adegoroye (2006), civil service reform becomes a vital approach for redesigning the institution for the attainment of their goals as a component of a multi-sectorial to manage and propel good governance guaranteeing maintainable democracy and speedy recovery. Zazay (2015) declared that the underlying principle of such reform including the Liberia 2008 reform interventions was, and has been, to enhance the adequacy and effectiveness of civil service and to guarantee its execution, which is necessary to support continual socio-economic growth. The main objective of these reform exercises, as indicated by Zazay (2015), is to enhance the nature of service offered to citizens and to improve their ability to carry out center government capacities, which are basic to advance supported financial improvement. Omoyefa (2008), posited that productivity, adequacy, and responsiveness of government to the longing of its citizens must be gauged through the lenses of the public sector reform.
In spite of the gradual and systematic reforms, inclusive of restructuring and rightsizing since June 2008, the ministries in Liberia are still faced with immense challenges. To further validate this statement, the Ministry of Health in its 2015-2025 policy paper captioned “Investment Plan for Building a Resilient Health System in Liberia” expressed that the health service delivery systems were already weak before the Ebola virus disease outbreak. Community interventions and services were not well coordinated with many vertical efforts ongoing ( the Republic of Liberia, Ministry of Health, 2015).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Civil service reform, a worldwide phenomenon has been an extensive challenge to almost all developing nations and war-torn government like Liberia around the globe.
Reforms are intended to enhancing the competence and efficacy of the civil service.
The 14 years of civil decadence caused the Civil Service to go into a recession that ruined the entire merit-based system by disregarding its fundamental standard procedures and recruiting unqualified individuals based on the patronage and generosity of various armed groups that exacerbated the civil conflict. This situation created an inefficient public service, thereby adversely affecting performance and contributing to poor service delivery in Liberia.
Apparently, several years of these rigorous reform exercises that were meant at re-invigorating the civil service, there seem to be strong traces of ineffective and inefficient service delivery in Liberia. This is evidenced by the poor quality of educational and health systems in Liberia. The President, Ellen J. Sirleaf, in an interview with the Reuters on 7 August 2013, branded the educational system a “mess”, which requires a complete overhaul. Additionally, the 2015 Ebola menace that claimed the lives of approximately 184 health workers and 1000 men, women and children, could have been attributed to the poor delivery of drugs and combating accessories that were needed to tackle the killer disease.
It is against this backdrop, that the researcher was poised, to have investigated those factors that militated against better service delivery in Liberia, as was proposed in the 2008 civil service reform captioned “small government, better service”.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The main objective of this study appraised ways in which the 2008 Civil Service Reform will lead to Small Government, Better service in Liberia. The specific objectives are to:
- examine service delivery in Liberia prior to the 2008 Civil Service reform ;
- identify the concept of “small government” on service delivery in Liberia;
- assess the re-engineering of government ministerial structures in Liberia on service delivery and
- identify factors that militated against effective service delivery in Liberia.
1.4 Research Questions
The researcher questions are based on the stated objectives below:
- How was service delivery engaged in Liberia prior to the 2008 Civil Service reform?
- How has the concept of small government led to better service delivery in Liberia?
- In what way has the re-engineering of government ministerial structures enhanced service delivery in Liberia?
- What are factors that militated against effective service delivery in Liberia?
1.5 Justification for the Study
Liberia, a country struggling to build its broken infrastructures and institutions after 14 years of civil turmoil, agreed to a adopt a civil service reform policy that should have led to the resuscitation of those various intuitions and infrastructures that would have paved the way for efficient and effective service delivery.
In 2008, the service reform policy kick started as a vehicle through which those challenges of the post-war reconstruction and robust service delivery could be addressed.
The study brought to focus the link between civil service reform and service delivery; this research adequately help readers, students, lecturers and future leaders understand ways in which civil service reforms enhances service delivery. The research adds to existing body of knowledge, because of sparse literatures on civil service reform and service delivery in Liberia. Finding from this work would also aid, promote and help policy makers to enact appropriate laws to governance in the public sector in Liberia.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study covered some orientations of the civil service reform that included the restructuring and rightsizing and service delivery. These key orientations are selected because according to the reform’s paper, better service hinges on these variables.
The researcher focused his study in Montserrado County of Liberia; the reason for the selection of Montserrado is that the county houses all those ministries, which were interrogated. The researcher’s work considered two ministries (Finance & Development Planning and Education) out of the 18 ministries, because these ministries were at the core of the reform processes by restructuring, rightsizing, pension and pay reform and human resources management; they are also very keen to the provision of service delivery in the country.
The study concentrated on the periods of 2010-2015; because the implementation of the reform was intensive during those years under investigation.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
Small government: this term depicts the creation of a small but compact government in which mandates and functions of ministries and agencies are structurally configured to fuss, merge and cement agencies in order to derive higher competencies, capability and capacity through the process of restructuring, rightsizing, downsizing, redundancy and removal of ghost names.
Better service: This concept illustrates the timely delivery of basic services as a result of best practices established by government through competent and motivated civil servants in addressing public needs and expectations.
Administrative Reform/ Civil Service Reform: The usage of this concept will equally connote same meaning for civil service reform. Hence, Administrative reform and civil service reform are used interchangeably to mean the intentional attempt by the government to advance its capability to effectively and efficiently implement guiding principle and ensure proper operation in the routine tasks.
Restructuring: the concept in this study refers to the expansion of some government outlets due to their mandates and functions, while in other cases the term suggests some areas being deemed redundant that consequently leads to layoffs.
Rightsizing: the term in this study refers to the adjustment of the workforce to an appropriate size in order to enhance productivity and effectiveness.
Downsizing: connotes the laying off of personnel from a given government institution as a result of institutional evaluation to retain skillful and competent workers which subsequently leads to diminution in the functions of such institution.