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Enhancing government's policy management and decision-making system: the case of Ghana's central governance reforms project.


The Ghana Central Governance Project (GCGP) was part of the overall public sector reform but its focus was on the executive decision-making processes designed to enable Ghana to re-capture its lost glory of running one of the most efficient and vibrant civil services in the world. The project was aimed at providing mechanisms for ensuring optimal delivery of the executive president's priorities, formalizing the decision-making process, where the precious time of the president and ministers is focused on strategic issues, such as quality policy options and analyses; performance reporting by ministries; improved support at both political and administrative levels by central management agencies (CMAs); and stronger policy coordination between the Office of the President, CMAs and ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

This paper commences by providing a brief overview of the reforms undertaken over the years prior to the establishment of the GCGP, and by explaining what policy is and describing the Ghana Central Government Project. Next, the development of the project's phases and expected benefits are addressed. This is followed by highlights of the project's activities and achievements. Finally the lessons learnt and conclusions are presented.

Public sector reforms and background to the GCGP

Ghana has undertaken a number of key public sector reform initiatives since the period of independence, aimed at improving skills and output within the civil or other related sectors. The key reform initiatives have included the following:

--The Mills Odoi Commission to review structures and salaries to support the development of the country (1965);

--The Okoh Commission which was tasked with making recommendations for dynamism, social change and economic development (1974);

--Public Administration Restructuring and Decentralisation Implementation Committee (PARDIC);

--The Civil Service Reform Programme (CSRP) 1989;

--Civil Service Performance Improvement Programme (CSPIP) 1995; and

--The National Institutional Renewal Programme, which was to reform the entire public sector and the civil service through the Civil Service Performance Improvement Programme (CSPIP) 1995.

All of these reforms, as well as other sector-specific programs, such as Public Finance Management, and Budget and Expenditure Management System, were aimed at developing the critical intellectual and technical capital to deliver the capacity to support development. Over the years, however, the public sector suffered as a result of high staff turnover, a declining economy and frequent interruptions in the democratic process. The public sector bore the brunt of the effects, leading to cutbacks which ultimately affected the overall output and technical capability of the civil service.

By the year 2001, the new administration, which had taken over the reins of government on the advice of the Government of Canada, decided to focus on policy development, management and implementation to achieve results. It was recognized that the development and effective implementation of the right polices were critical to national development and the achievement of the government's priorities.

Consequently, the discussions focused on strengthening the policymaking and decision-making systems as a basis for development. In implementing this project, the Office of the President, which is normally not a focal point in such reforms, was a key beneficiary, including the Cabinet Secretariat and key central management agencies.

This project differed from other donor-supported reform initiatives which, as demonstrated above, tended to centre on organizational structures, payroll reform, human resource and administrative competence relevant to specific functions (Aryee 2001). Given that effective governments the world over were based on the development and implementation of the right policies, this project emphasized policy.

Furthermore, the project was consultative in a number of ways. There was discussion between the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Government of Ghana (GoG) to make the process not only consultative but also relevant to the needs of Ghana and its cultural setting. Additionally, there was discussion with the key beneficiary institutions: the chief directors and the Presidency's Policy Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation Unit (PCMEU). The discussions established key milestones and implementation methodologies, and considered issues of major public interest. More importantly, the discussions at the steering committee level determined which best practice systems could be used as benchmarks. Given that Canada is a developed country and has so much to share in terms of experiences, it was selected as one of the best practice countries for study.

Canada, as a Commonwealth country, has some traditions in common with Ghana, which made its selection most appropriate. That notwithstanding, other best practice countries were added to the mix, including the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA). A full-scale conference with representatives from Ghana, Canada, the UK and USA permitted extensive deliberations over a three-day period to define clearly the best practices for inclusion in the project. Amongst the stakeholders invited were public-sector institutions, think tanks, civil society/ research and advocacy/non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, private sector organizations and development partners.

Description of the Ghana central governance project

GCGP was a bilateral project between the GoG and the Government of Canada. Funded by CIDA, the main goal of the project was to enhance the government's policy management processes, which would strengthen the decision-making process in the Office of the President, the Cabinet Secretariat and the MDAs.

Structured under three main components, the project was tasked with:

--Improving the decision-making policy capacity of the executive and selected ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs);

--Assisting in the development and support of a human resource strategy for policy analysts; and

--Providing support for a management information system (MIS) to support the policy management and decision making system.

Gender analysis and strategies cut across all components.

The project was fortunate to have committed GoG leadership at the highest political level and manifested in the day-to-day stewardship of implementation. A project management committee (PMC) was the central body around which the project evolved, and assumed overall responsibilities for the implementation of the project. The chair of the PMC alternated between the chief of staff (who was also the minister of presidential affairs) and the director of international development at the Canadian High Commission. The PMC also relied heavily on the involvement of the secretary to the cabinet and head of the civil service as well as Canadian and Ghanaian project directors. The PMC was supported by a project office headed by a coordinator who worked with all stakeholders to ensure that the project ran smoothly and continuously. During the first four years of implementation, the project shared management responsibility between the Office of the President and the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC).

Partners and beneficiaries for the first phase of the project included agencies with oversight responsibilities such as the Office of the President, Cabinet Secretariat, Office of the Head of Civil Service, National Development Planning Commission, ministries with cross-cutting functions such as finance and economic planning, local government and rural development, women and children's affairs and big-spending ministries such as food and agriculture, education and health. When the work commenced, however, all ministries were invited to participate in the policy seminars, so as to share equally in the benefits to be derived from the laudable ideas and knowledge the project had to offer the MDAs.

The project's activities were initially coordinated through three work teams, namely policy, human resource and management information system (MIS). Members of the work teams were selected from the PCMEU at the Office of the President, Cabinet Secretariat, Office of the Head of Civil Service and all the selected MDAs. The work teams designed and contributed to the development of products of the project, including a cabinet memoranda procedures manual; performance management for chiefdirectors and directors of the various ministries; detailed job descriptions for policy analysts and monitoring and evaluation specialists of the PCMEU at the Office of the President and at the Policy Planning Monitoring and Evaluation Units of the ministries; base-line data on GoG human resources training; a draft ministers' handbook and transition-planning guide for change of administrations. The teams also developed presentations on Ghana's current executive decision-making processes. The MIS work team contributed to the successful implementation of MIS at the Office of the President and the ministries involved in the first phase of the project.

The work teams collaborated with the project to build policy capacity in the MDAs through an applied competency training program, and developed a document entitled "A Framework for Ghana's Policy Management and Decision Making System." In general, the project sought to improve the decision--making policy capacity of the executive and the selected MDAs, to assist in developing and supporting the implementation of a human resource strategy for policy analysts, and provide support for a management information system to facilitate the policy management and decision-making process. The human resource and MIS work teams successfully achieved their mandates, and the policy work team worked assiduously to deepen the use of the policy tools. Comprehensive standard samples of a variety of Cabinet memoranda were developed to serve as templates for policy analysts in the civil service.

Phases of the project

Phase One of the project came to an end after a five-year implementation period (see Table 1), but the Canadian government through CIDA funded a transition phase for a further eighteen months.

The purpose of the transition phase was to enable the Government of Ghana to strengthen the foundations of the executive decision-making system through the application of products, procedures and processes developed in the GCGP and the building of management capacity to implement reform.

Four sets of activities were earmarked:

1. Activities supporting the political engagement for an orderly transition of government, and the civil service as it prepared for a transition of government. This was based on the finding that reforms in the public sector are usually successful when they receive the support of both politicians and bureaucrats (Reschenthaler and Thompson 1998; Gruening

2001; Caiden and Sundaram 2004; Keen et al 2005; Antwi et al 2008).

2. Activities supporting capacity to apply executive decision-making, including implementation of the Cabinet Memorandum Manual with appropriate training and coaching.

3. Activities supporting application of the management information system, and the capacity to test and refine the cabinet decision tracking system in the Office of the President.

4. Activities promoting gender equality in the decision-making system, supporting the application of gender impact analysis and the use of the gender assessment tool in the Cabinet Memorandum Manual.

Benefits of the project

Overall benefits that accrued to the government and people of Ghana are as follows: a deepening of good governance and an enhanced policy management and coordination process at the executive level, and between the CMAs, Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Directorates (PPMEDs), Research Statistics Information Management Directorates (RSIMDs) and Gender Desk Officers of the MDAs. With an effective and well-defined cabinet approval process, there is improved coordination among direct beneficiaries.

The project was brought to a successful completion at the end of 2009.

Reach and institutionalization of the project

The project has successfully expanded the community of interest and participation, which augurs well for the institutionalization of elements of the reforms. For example,

--more political executives have lent support to the project;

--the Cabinet Secretariat has accepted the challenge to change its processes and procedures;

--collaboration with the head of the civil service has ensured that the project dovetails with future strategic directions of the civil service;

--the project has garnered the interest and support of several chief directors who are the permanent executives in the GoG; they participated in almost all of the activities of the project, study tours, workshops, seminars, and helped in the development of the framework. They were also involved in the consultations on the new job descriptions for policy groups; and

--permanent civil service groups that have been affected by the project include the work teams and most of the participants at various meetings and workshops.

Highlights of project activities and achievements

A framework for Ghana's policy management

A key achievement was the development of the document entitled, "A Framework for Ghana's Policy Management and Decision Making System." The need for the framework was identified by the Office of the President from the outset as a required blueprint for a coherent, policy management and decision-making system, from which other incremental process improvements could be derived or anchored. The framework was meant to accelerate efficiency in Ghana's policy management and accountability process, and ultimately, its governance.

The process of developing this major document also produced other results.

--Capacity building occurred through the inclusive process of planning the workshop and presentations, and in developing the recommended framework. Ghanaians did it by themselves.

--Interaction of different policy groups around fundamental issues occurred. This was the first of its kind. As a community, these groups have a stake in the recommendations for reforms.

--The workshop product, the recommended framework, was a significant outcome that touched on the core governance of the country.

Cabinet Memorandum Manual (CMM) and impact assessment guidelines

One of the significant successes of the GCGP was the adoption by cabinet of the CMM as the guide for the development of cabinet memoranda and government policy. This was a key product from the framework document. Prior to the institutionalization of the CMM, there were huge differences in the quality of memoranda submitted to cabinet for its consideration. Ministries that had developed policy capacity and consequently strong PPMEs usually submitted good cabinet memoranda whereas the submissions of ministries without the requisite policy human resources were generally sub-standard. To address these inconsistencies in the system, the development of a CMM was considered as an important output or deliverable of the policy process component of the GCGP.

This manual sets out detailed standards and requirements for preparing documents for consideration by cabinet and cabinet committees. It outlines the process for submitting and reviewing proposals from MDAs. The manual was developed by the Office of the President with contributions from a working group comprising selected CMAs and MDAs. The final product was thoroughly reviewed by the Cabinet Secretariat.

This manual provides guidelines for content and context development of a cabinet memorandum. It discusses linkages required for the preparation of a robust memorandum. It also highlights the issues that need to be taken into account in assessing the economic, social, technological, cultural and demographic impacts of the policy. Furthermore, the financial implications, gender analysis implications and communications strategies for disseminating the policy have to be clearly articulated. The manual includes a section on security measures for cabinet documents.

In the past, the government had experienced leaks of confidential cabinet memoranda, to the embarrassment of both political leaders and civil servants. Consequently, the Cabinet Secretariat made security measures for cabinet records one of the key areas that the project needed to address. Two cabinet secretaries and a number of staff from the Cabinet Secretariat had the opportunity to travel to Canada to study the security system used by the Privy Council Office in the Canadian prime minister's office. The use of management information systems in managing workflow and communication, as well as tracking the transmission of cabinet memoranda were studied and initial concepts and plans were developed to suit Ghana's context. Subsequently, pertinent staff from Canada's Cabinet Secretariat visited Ghana to assist with the implementation of the plan, and shared their experiences on running a cabinet secretariat. This and other initiatives implemented by Ghana's Cabinet Secretariat have resulted in improved security measures that have virtually eradicated the incidences of cabinet memoranda leaks. Software for the management of cabinet memoranda and the decision-making process has been developed for the Cabinet Secretariat.

A draft "handbook for ministers"

The project also produced a draft "handbook for ministers." In advanced jurisdictions, there are guidelines for ministers and leading politicians on job descriptions, codes of conduct and the nature and scope of their work as well as the expectations of the public regarding their conduct while in public office. The handbook sets out to establish the general objects of a ministerial appointment, responsibilities of a minister, issues relating to good governance, transparency and accountability. Relationships with colleague ministers and with civil servants are also highlighted. Critical success factors, including code of conduct for a ministerial portfolio, are explained. These include the need to be innovative and at the same time circumspect in the office of the minister where portfolios cover a wide range of sectors of the economy (e.g., economic/financial, social, infrastructure and governance). In the same vein, because there is a need for a right balance between technical and general management skills in order to achieve high levels of success, the minister ought to be able to conduct the appropriate analysis in order to strike the balance. The use of special advisors, special assistants and the ability to create the right conditions and context within which the career civil servants can work smoothly with political appointees is a key to success in the minister's office.

Training and capacity building in policy development in the civil service

Government work teams coordinated all of the implementation activities in each of the project's components, thereby building and improving on functional skills.

--The human resource work team developed job descriptions and a baseline data report on the government's human resources and training.

--The policy work team developed a descriptive report of the current policy and decision-making system.

--The MIS work team played a key role in the development of leading-edge information management systems for Ghana, e.g., a knowledge management system and a state-of-the-art IT infrastructure at the Office of the President.

The Office of Head of Civil Service (OHCS) collaborated with the project to ensure adequate training of civil servants for efficient and effective job performance in the execution of programs to meet the development aspiration of Ghanaians, particularly the gender equality analyses and strategies that cut across all components of the project's programs. The University of Ghana Business School (UGBS) worked closely with the human resource work team to develop a participatory and practical training course with emphasis on case studies, group discussions and individual simulation exercises.

OHCS, in collaboration with the UGBS and in support of the project, also developed a comprehensive set of training modules:

--Module one: Policy development and analysis;

--Module two: Context and framework of policy; and

--Module three: Policy implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

The curriculum provides core knowledge in policy making from the economic, social and political perspectives and the cultural realities, and offers civil servants a better understanding of the new framework for decision making, in order to appreciate the available policy instruments and methods for effective monitoring and implementation of policy.

One hundred and forty-four and fifty-four civil servants were successfully trained in module one and module three, respectively. The project was geared towards developing well-trained staff for efficient and effective execution of government programs, which would also be responsive to the development aspirations of Ghanaians.

Mainstreaming gender issues into governance

Underlying the three components--policy process, human resource development and utilization of MIS to facilitate the policy management and decision-making process--was a need to ensure that gender analysis would cut across all of the issues addressed. Working very closely with a gender specialist, the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs and the key ministries involved in the first phase of the project established gender desks. To lead by example, the project's three work groups were constituted with gender balance in mind. Gender balance was also an important consideration in the selection of civil service personnel for practitioner-to-practitioner training and applied competency programs. Overall, about forty per cent of the personnel trained were females. In hiring personnel for the policy class of the civil service, the OHCS worked assiduously to ensure that females were fairly represented. The project also availed itself to government agencies that required specific assistance in the formulation and implementation of gender-sensitive policies. In this regard, the project worked with the Ministry of Trade and Industry to determine how best to incorporate gender issues in the formulation and implementation of its policies. A training workshop on gender analysis and mainstreaming into the National Trade Policy was organized for thirty-five participants, and an "Action Plan" developed. In all, about eighty civil servants benefited from training workshops on gender analysis and mainstreaming in cabinet memorandum and policy development. The selection procedure for the training of specialists ensured that officers working on various programs attended such training. Within their offices, however, other officials with the technical skills and basic competencies were also selected, in order to ensure gender balance. The key issue for selection was competence. Indeed, concerns over a trade off with merit were unfounded since there were almost always competent women who were willing to accept new challenges. Some means of evaluating the progress of the gender-neutral policy after the training workshops included how well-grounded the new women's ministry would become over the years; the rise of women into the top echelons of the civil service; and the consolidation of gender desks established in the ministries.

Development partners (DPs)

A commitment to consult and align the GCGP with other donor governance initiatives in Ghana was successfully met. The project consulted with all the major DPs during the inception phase, and continued to provide them with project updates. Visits were made to DANIDA, the World Bank, DfID and USAID. In developing the framework, the project consulted with the DPs and secured their cooperation. DPs were represented at various fora organized by the Canadian High Commission to discuss the project.

Job descriptions for policy units: PCMEU, PPMEDs

As part of the human resource component of the project, job descriptions were developed for policy advisors, policy analysts as well as monitoring and evaluation specialists to facilitate hiring specialists for, and also to give direction to, the work of the PCMEU at the Office of the President.

In the same vein, job descriptions were developed for the policy analysts of the Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Directorates (PPMEDs) of the ministries. Because they work so closely with the head of the civil service, the PPMEDs needed to be reinvigorated and restored to the distinctive role they used to play in the civil service in its early days. These job descriptions and other stringent recruitment processes are currently being used to attract bright and promising recruits to a strong policy class in the civil service.

The civil service has not only embarked on a recruitment drive to attract talented personnel, but it has also adopted an internal transfer system that matches skills to positions occupied. Efforts have also been made to ensure that appropriate staff within the policy class are retained as a way of preserving institutional memory and building the capacity of new entrants. Various training programs have been instituted to ensure the rapid development of staff within the policy class.

Performance management system for chief directors and directors

One notable success of the GCGP has been the development of a performance management system for the civil service. The OHCS requested the project to develop a system that enables it to measure, monitor and evaluate objectively the performance of the chief directors and directors of the ministries. OHCS is currently building on this to implement a comprehensive performance management system in the civil service.

Established mandates, roles, functions and improved coordination among policy management bodies and direct beneficiaries were largely achieved through the work teams. The chief directors and members of the work teams collaborated for the attainment of the project objectives. In sum, the target of the project was to put things in their proper place within the context of public administration.

Monitoring and evaluation guidelines for the PCMEU

Under the auspices of the project, the PCMEU, in collaboration with the Office of the Head of the Civil Service (OHCS), National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Ministry of Finance & Economic Planning (MFEP), Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development (MLGRD) and Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) developed templates and guidelines for quarterly reporting to the Office of the President for the purposes of monitoring and evaluating government policies and programs. The robust utilization of the tools and the completed forms, with additional activities used to cross check the veracity of the information submitted (e.g., field trips) and the feedback process (provided by the PCMEU to ministers, chief directors and heads of departments and agencies) made the exercise of monitoring and evaluation highly useful to the various ministries with which the PCMEU worked. To the project's credit, countries such as Gambia, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda have visited Ghana and communicated with the project director and project team to learn lessons from the policy development, monitoring and evaluation experiences of their Ghanaian counterparts.

At the time that monitoring and evaluation guidelines were developed, there were several reporting matrices to meet the needs of various funding agencies. The project brought all of these stakeholders around the table to agree on a harmonized set of monitoring and evaluation guidelines that met the needs of the various actors and sponsors of activities within government.

Towards vibrant policy development

Politicians make policies, and good policies make good politics. However, politicians do not implement the policies. They depend on civil servants to implement them. The GCGP organized a series of seminars for over 200 mid- to top-level civil servants from the Office of the President, Cabinet Secretariat, PCMEU, CMAs, PPMEDs, RSIMDs (including chief directors and gender desk officers) from all of the MDAs on cabinet decision-making process, policy development and analysis, policy options development, policy reviews, presentations and briefings on what an effective and well-defined cabinet approval process is.

These were practitioner-to-practitioner, interactive seminars in which Canadian practitioners (and, in some cases, practitioners from the United States and United Kingdom) were invited to share ideas and experiences from their countries and then to compare them with the Ghanaian system. In a presentation, one of the Canadian practitioners stated that "the role of a Civil Servant is to be fearless in giving advice based on a well-developed analysis." The expectation is that policy coordination amongst the various decision-making bodies; i.e., the Office of the President, Cabinet Secretariat, National Development Planning Commission and PPMEDs in the MDAs, would consolidate the gains made so far.

Policy network forum

As part of the process of consolidating and strengthening policy development in the civil service, a policy network forum comprising all policy-related institutions in the country and policy analysts in the civil service is being established. The purpose of the forum is to provide an opportunity for the exchange of information on policy issues and to consolidate contacts and relationships between government officials in charge of policy across the various MDAs. It will also provide an opportunity for past and present participants of various training programs to discuss topical policy issues in a multi-sectoral manner for policy development in Ghana.

Learning from best practices through study tours

To gain first-hand information from their Canadian counterparts on modern governance, study tours were organized for senior officials from the Office of the President and Cabinet Secretariat, and chief directors who are involved in policy development. A team of IT specialists working on MIS also acquainted themselves with their counterparts and learnt the new methods of document and information management. Participants visited Canadian institutions such as the Prime Minister's Office, Cabinet Secretariat, Privy Council Office and Status of Women Canada (SWC). During the visit to the Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada, chief directors from the MDAs were highly impressed with functions of the government machinery, especially the work of the cabinet sub-committee system. In Canada, these sub-committees have in-depth discussions on cabinet memoranda and resolve outstanding issues. This practice makes it possible for cabinet to meet for two hours to concentrate on strategic priority issues. The tours have helped participants to update their knowledge and share experiences on best practices, some of which have been implemented in Ghana's effort to translate the lessons learnt into good governance and the consolidation of democracy.

Management information system

To support vibrant policy development in government, a state-of-the-art IT infrastructure has been established in the Office of the President. The original idea was to establish connectivity between the Office of the President and the MDAs for collaboration and sharing of information through the Hummingbird suite. A secure networking and messaging infrastructure was installed at the Office of the President.

Computers and supporting hardware were distributed within the Office of the President, the Cabinet Secretariat and the selected MDAs to transmit and receive messages to and from the ministries that are part of the project in order to allow for coordination, collaboration and sharing of information linking the beneficiaries.

Training in basic IT skills, email usage, Internet skills and Microsoft Office productivity tools (Word, Excel and Outlook) was provided for selected staff from all registries at the Office of the President. In addition, Internet connectivity among the selected MDAs and the Office of the President was established. The system has security features to ensure that the infrastructure and resources are used as expected, and that neither national security nor organizational confidentiality is compromised.

A key output of the project has been the development of the Castle Portal. This portal has structured information on various sections of the Office of the President and has appropriate linkages to other agencies where required to access and display the information effectively for users at the Office of the President for the purpose of monitoring and evaluating the performance of the President's priorities.

Transition planning guide

As part of the GCGP, a comprehensive set of guidelines was developed for transition planning in Ghana. For the first time in the country's history, a formalized system was created to indicate what was required of both the political and bureaucratic leadership during a change of government. Even if the change involves one political party succeeding itself, it is expected that a formal transitional process will take place in order to ensure the retention of institutional memory and a smooth transfer of power.

The transition planning guide was developed on a step-by-step basis. Issues relating to activities, timing and responsibilities of the outgoing and incoming president as well as the bureaucracy (mainly Cabinet Secretariat and Civil Service) are clearly spelt out. To make the work highly practical, user-friendly worksheets were developed to facilitate the implementation of the transition plan. Prior to the finalization of the plan, cabinet approved the use of the planning guide. Additionally, the committee of chief directors (permanent heads of all the ministries) participated in numerous discussions to provide comments and inputs that were used to improve draft versions of the transition guide. On the political side, the chief of staff chaired a cabinet committee that was established by the president to study the draft transition guide and make recommendations to cabinet for its approval. On the part of the bureaucracy, the cabinet secretary, head of the civil service and project director (also head of the PCMEU) worked closely with the governance advisor and project coordinator to generate ideas and concept papers upon which the work was founded.

It is expected that the judicious use of the transition planning guide will facilitate the smooth transition of power from one administration to another. Since this is the first time such an approach to power change will take place, critical success factors will be noted, challenges will be catalogued and the lessons learnt will come in handy to improve the transition guide and make it even more useful during subsequent transition processes.

Challenges of the project

The achievements of the project notwithstanding, there were a number of challenges. In some instances, discussions, consultation and relationship building were required to overcome the difficulties.

Support for the project

At the outset of the project, six major ministries and the Office of the President were selected for the pilot phase. The benefits of the project were then to be extended across all MDAs. Although some of the ministries felt that they were critical to the policy process and thus should have been included at the outset, this was not possible at the pilot stage, owing to resource constraints. Through discussions and relationship building, a compromise arrangement was reached that made it possible for all ministries to benefit from the practitioner-to-practitioner training programs that were offered by the project. By opening up the policy training program to cover all of the ministries, the project gained widespread support from the civil servants.

Skills and set-up of PPMEDs

At the outset, the project identified that not all MDAs had well-functioning policy planning, monitoring and evaluation directorates (PPMEDs). Apart from the key ministries of health, education, agriculture, finance and

economic planning, and women and children's affairs, several ministries did not have well-established PPMEDs. In many instances, either there were not enough staff to do the work or the staff of the directorate was not of the quality required to do the work. This was a major issue that the project had to grapple with initially. Liaising with the OHCS for staff to be sent to the major PPMEDs to move the project forward was not always easy. The perception that the PPMED was the Siberia within the service was persistent within some ministries at the time of the implementation of the project. This perception was reinforced by the fact that nothing happened in such directorates and the staff were therefore technically redundant.

Attitude of some key organizations who felt that their mandate was being usurped

The project did not receive initial support for its work because some MDAs felt that their mandate was being usurped by the project. Traditionally, the provision of advice to the president and the issuance of policy directives were within the purview of certain specific organizations in the public sector. However, the project sought to build a more collaborative approach to policy development and support key organizations to provide information and agree prior to submission of policy to cabinet, which was hitherto not the case. This notwithstanding, these organizations were initially frosty in their support until the project gained traction and assured them of their continued existence.

Lack of ministerial support

Policy making across government is dependent on the support that the process receives along the entire policy-making chain. Critical to this is the minister of state in Ghana, who submits policies to cabinet for approval and acceptance, as well as where necessary, implements the policy. The control of the process by the minister made him or her powerful. Consequently, there were initial difficulties in getting the minister of state to be supportive of the process. The fact that the Cabinet Secretariat and the cabinet secretary were involved, as well as the head of the PCMEU, helped to encourage overall support.

The need to build relationships

The success of the project was dependent on effective relationship-building throughout the project. The inclusion of chief directors, the head of the civil service, the secretary to cabinet and various interest groups throughout the project ensured that the targets were met.

Initial absence of females

During the implementation of the project, it was recognized that not many females were involved in the process, particularly at the chief director level. Consequently, necessary additions were made to bring on board a key female chief director from the Ministry of Tourism (a ministry not initially part of the project) to ensure active involvement of women. Naturally, this led to a clamour for additional inclusions prior to extending the project to all the MDAs. It is noteworthy that the female director from the Ministry of Tourism benefited from the capacity development components of the project and was selected by the managers of the project to represent the Government of Ghana and make presentations at various conferences dedicated to public sector management. She excelled in her job and the Ministry of Tourism was consistently amongst the first to meet the reporting requirements of the presidency during her tenure as the chief bureaucrat of the ministry. Her meteoric rise to the highest position in the public service--chairperson of the Public Services Commission (the first ever woman to occupy this post)--is therefore not surprising.

Rival programs supported by other development partners

Based on the success of the GCGP, there were attempts to support similar initiatives in critical areas of government by some of the donor agencies, principally to gain favour and access to the centre which was considered important to their work in the country. The project took note of all these issues and successfully worked with such projects funded by other organizations to ensure that benefits accruing to the country were deepened.

Lessons learned

Client commitment

The most important factors in a central governance project are the commitment, enthusiasm and leadership of the government. The project in Ghana was fortunate to have committed leadership at the highest political level, which was manifested in the day-to-day stewardship of implementation. This is exemplified by the adoption of the Cabinet Memorandum and Procedures Manual and the continued interest shown by the Cabinet Secretariat in particular for additional training in matters relative to the project. The staff of the various ministries who have received training have shown a willingness to work in many instances beyond normal hours. Some of them have taken additional courses in policy.


The project enjoyed a cordial working relationship with CIDA and its staff, both locally and in Canada. CIDA officials were actively engaged in making sure that the project succeeded. The project's management responsibilities were initially shared between the Institute of Public Administration of Canada and the Office of the President. The Government of Ghana provided the time and talents of senior staff in the Presidency, Cabinet Secretariat, OHCS and the selected MDAs. In addition, the chief of staff, secretary to cabinet and the head of the civil service were actively involved in the project through the project management committee. Government partnership was crucial in ensuring client ownership of the project and the achievement of its objectives. There has been a willingness among public officers across the various MDAs to collaborate more in order to develop public policies.

Respectful relationships

Mutual respect and trust are very important. The project worked hard to build this respect and trust among the partners, which shared the same goal of making this project a success. Both parties have come to trust the other to make good suggestions and thus are flexible to allow for changes and shifts in the work plans and approaches to implementation. The degree of consultation among partners of equal rank across ministries, especially in the development of cabinet memoranda and policy matters, has been remarkable. Issues are now discussed and not imposed, as was the case previously.

Good listening

Ability to listen to what the client is saying is important. From the start of the project, the ability to appreciate and respect the directions of the partners made all the difference. The inception phase was extremely useful in clarifying the wishes of the government. The project responded to modifications requested by the partners, modifications that made huge impacts in terms of paving the way for achieving project objectives. The project succeeded in avoiding the arrogance of assuming that it had all the expertise and answers.


Flexibility to refocus and redesign various approaches exists and is necessary. For example, the development of a framework for Ghana's policy management and decision-making system was a result of a workshop which provided a venue for wider participation and comparative assessments of different governance models from Canada, the UK and USA. TheGovernment of Ghana identified the need for the framework during this inception workshop.

Creative approaches

There is not just a single way to do things. Insistence that one approach fits all could not work in this project. The project learned to approach delivery in different ways, and experience has shown that those variations made the project stronger, rather than weaker. The Ghanaian civil service has been "assessed to death," and numerous reports have been produced by DPs. The earlier scepticism some had about this project was due in part to the fact that many projects never delivered tangibles, but spent huge sums of money on studies and on what the funding organisations perceived to be important (not what the people considered essential). The project learned very quickly to use creative approaches to deliver on the tangibles.


No doubt the GCGP has had a tremendous impact on the policy process in Ghana. While this is not the first attempt at reform, the processes for ensuring a successful implementation were different.

Techniques for ensuring public-sector reform have varied from country to country, as have the theories underpinning the implementation process. These techniques and practices have come to be known as new public management. Larbi (1998) identifies the bases for the implementation of new public management as:

--economic and fiscal pressures on governments;

--public attitudes and increasing criticisms (especially by public-choice theorists) of the ineffectiveness and inefficiencies of delivering public services;

--the resurgence of new right politics that were pro-market and pro-private sector;

--the proliferation of management ideas generated, packaged and marketed by international management consultants, who often act as advisers on reforms to governments around the world;

--donor advocacy and lending conditions of international financial institutions especially in developing countries;

--the spread of global markets, especially those related to financial integration and liberalization; and

--the use and growth of information technology.

While Larbi's (1998) assertions may be true in many instances, the same cannot be said for the situation of the Ghanaian government when the GCGP was launched. The pressure on the new government to deliver was of a different form. The administration in Ghana had assumed office on a high wave of public support, even in the face of the need for difficult economic decisions. The support was evident in the manner in which members of the Ghana Union Traders Association (GUTA) reduced prices of goods as a show of support for the government. There was an internal need to deliver in order to show that the country could be developed or changed on the basis of effective policy implementation. The support from CIDA was not predicated on any special conditions either.

The project could be said to fit into the new public management in the sense that it sought to reinvigorate the policy process and achieve higher and evidence-based outcomes for the achievement of desired effects. To the extent that training, re-training, sharing of experiences and working in concert were part of the process, there were elements of new public management to be seen.

The effect and impact of implementing a new policy management system such as the GCGP, however, needs to be posited within the political setting of the time. Without political support and an environment that supports the development of policy through consensus building and problem solving, it would not have been possible to achieve any results. To the extent that the project improved the policy process, it can be said to have met Deming's (1982) tenets on quality management even though the key lead agencies were not manufacturing concerns.

Michael Barber's (2007: 20-27) view that, for public-sector reform to be effective, three key paradigms of command and control, devolution and transparency, and quasi markets must be in place. He argues that the demand for better public goods and services and exposure to international comparisons and competition pressure governments and make it imperative to have the required systems and infrastructure as well as human capital for survival of national economies.

As in the case of Deming, these three paradigms were not all in place nor was the approach to the development and implementation of the GCGP comparable to what Barber describes. Command and control was not completely relative, as the project sought to assist the president to deliver on the principal areas of his administration. The policy process itself recognized that the bottom-up approach was also required and made extensive use of analysis and likely outcomes to refine the process and to meet the needs of the populace.

The current policy demands facing Ghana require continued strengthening of the policy management and decision-making processes. Since the project was launched, it has become clear that with strong political will and

commitment, the system being advocated can transform Ghana's socioeconomic position consolidate democracy, and bring about sustained development and good governance.

In order for the reforms to become deeply embedded, the executive and political leaders must work closely with the bureaucracy to implement the products and their recommendations assiduously. Such collaboration will ensure that the products do not merely sit on shelves and gather dust, and that the gains that have been made so far in enhancing Ghana's policy process and decision-making system are consolidated. To this end, successive governments need to be made aware of the benefits of the project and its recommendations through appropriate awareness generation, briefing notes and transfer of knowledge via orientation programs. These could all be mainstreamed into the transition-planning process which this project has so vividly espoused. Clearly, a set of tools has been made available to the political leadership and bureaucrats to use to ensure that there is no lacuna in the institutional memory required to facilitate a smooth transition from one government to another.

In order to sustain the success achieved, support is required from the Presidency and cabinet which together constitute the highest executive decision-making body in the country. Additionally, civil servants have to play their part by offering commitment at the top, and this must be complemented by the development of capacity at the appropriate levels of the administrative machinery.

A series of inter-related strategies has been adopted to ensure that there is continuity and consolidation of the project's ideals and objectives. First, the cabinet secretary and head of the civil service have worked extremely well with chief directors, the overall heads of the ministries, to develop a system that mirrors the workings of cabinet sub-committees through the establishment of the chief directors' committees. These committees meet to discuss cabinet memoranda early in the developmental stages, thus ensuring that all salient issues relating to the wider sector are taken into account when preparing a memorandum prior to submission to cabinet. Directors of Policy Planning Units of ministries and civil service policy analysts have also been constituted into teams to develop a variety of sample cabinet memoranda as examples of best practice and guides for the development of memoranda within the civil service.

Moreover, outcomes from the human resource development component of the project are being internalized and mainstreamed into the capacity building programs of the OHCS. Currently, there is ongoing training for several civil service trainers by external consultants (both foreign and local experts). The aim of this training of trainers is to ensure that Ghanaian civil servants are well equipped to take over from the external consultants who have played the lead roles in designing and executing the capacity building programs relating to policy analysis, options development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies. As part of the human resource development process, the project is supporting the OHCS to develop its training centre into a regional hub for the training of civil servants, particularly in the West African sub-region.

This effort holds promise because consultants who led the central governance process are already in other countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and Malawi to help with the implementation of civil service reforms based on the model utilized in Ghana. The regional hub concept may also be successful because, as the first Sub-Saharan country to gain independence from colonial rule, Ghana and its civil servants had a unique and earlier opportunity to receive first-class tutelage under the auspices of many advanced Commonwealth countries. As a result, there are many world-class Ghanaian public/civil servants who have made a name for themselves and Ghana while practising abroad, and these "ambassadors" have had the opportunity to build the civil services of many developing countries. Ghanaians therefore enjoy the goodwill of many emerging nations and command high levels of respect in these countries. It is not surprising that the first Sub-Saharan African to head the United Nations (the world's most renowned international civil/ public service organization) was a Ghanaian. All these factors point to a potentially successful regional centre (e.g., through a collaboration between Ghana Institute of Management & Public Administration and the Civil Service Training Centre), and Ghana would do well to establish such an outfit with world-class facilities to serve as a centre of excellence in Africa.


Antwi, K.B., F. Analoui, and Nana-Agyekum, D. 2008. "Public sector reform in Sub-Saharan Africa: what can be learnt from the civil service performance improvement programme in Ghana?" Public Administration and Development 28: 253-264.

Aryee, J.R.A. 2001. "Civil service reform in Ghana: A case study of contemporary reform problems in Africa." Africa Journal of Political Science 6 (1): 1-41.

Barber, M. 2007. "Three paradigms of public sector reform." Transforming Government. London: McKinsey & Company, June.

Caiden, G. E., and P. Sundaram. 2004. "The specificity of public service reform." Public Administration and Development 24: 373-383.

Deming, W. E. 1982. Quality, Productivity and Competitiveness Position. Cambridge MA: MIT Centre for Advanced Engineering Study.

Gruening, G. 2001. "Origin and theoretical basis of new public management." International Public Management Journal 4 (2): 1-25.

Keen, M., V.A. Brown, and R. Dyball. 2005. "Social learning: a new approach to environmental management." In Social Learning in Environmental Management: Towards a Sustainable Future, edited by M. Keen, V.A. Brown, and R. Dyball. London: EARTSCAN, pp 78-90.

Larbi, G.A. 1998. "Implementing NPM reforms in Ghana: institutional constrains and capacity issues cases from public health and water services." Ph.D. diss. Birmingham: University of Birmingham.

Reschenthaler, G.B., and F. Thompson. 1998. "Public management and the learning organisation." International Public Management Journal 1: 59-106.

Kwaku Appiah-Adu is professor of Strategy, Regent University Business School, City Campus, Accra, Ghana, and Chairman, Centre for Advanced Strategic Analysis. Samuel Aning is fellow, Centre for Advanced Strategic Analysis, and senior lecturer, Contemporary Issues, Methodist University College, Ghana. The authors wish to thank the Journal's anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. Ghana's Central Governance Reforms project was managed jointly by the Institute of Public Administration of Canada and the Government of Ghana, with funding from CIDA.
Table 1. Project Timelines

Key issue                                                  Date

Commencement of project                                February 2003
Three-day full-scale policy stakeholders conference    September 2003
End of five-year implementation (Phase One)            March 2008
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Author:Appiah-Adu, Kwaku; Aning, Samuel
Publication:Canadian Public Administration
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:6GHAN
Date:Mar 1, 2012
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