The Ontario Public Service (OPS) is participating in a partnership project with the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) to administer the Canadian International Development Agency’s Democratic Governance Program in Uganda.
The program has three streams of activity: policy capacity development, communications and human resource management.
In July 2011, as the Ontario lead for the human resources management project, I was fortunate to complete a successful mission in Uganda with my OPS colleagues Shamira Madhany (chief diversity and accessibility officer); Dave Walker (former director, Toronto HR Service Delivery), and Ather Shabbar (manager, customer service, Ministry of Transportation).
Uganda has a population of approximately 33 million people and its size is the same as Great Britain about 240,000 sq km. The Ugandan government has created a National Development Plan outlining a vision and strategic directions to transform Ugandan society from a peasant to a modern and prosperous country within 30 years.
They are committed to developing the skills and organizational capacity of the Uganda Public Service (UPS) to ensure professional public servants can deliver the governmentï¿½s agenda and provide quality services to citizens.
The mission included training UPS trainers to deliver workshops on competency-based recruitment to personnel officers and public service commission staff from various districts. This is to ensure those responsible for hiring have the knowledge, skills and tools to manage a fair and transparent recruitment process based on merit that results in quality hires.
We also supported their trainers with the development of a leadership and change management workshop that will be targeted at senior leaders and managers in the UPS, to enhance their skills and capacity to lead and advance the transformation agenda.
Our team spent many productive days planning with the trainers, completing material, delivering and evaluating the workshops. We also discussed the business plan for their Civil Service College.
While we were there we discussed and provided feedback on the overall UPS Transformation Strategy, their Human Resources Plan, and the proposal for an innovation program. We provided tools and advice, and ran a session on diversity and inclusion to support the work they are doing to meet gender equity goals.
We had the opportunity to meet and dialogue with key officials, including the secretary of the cabinet/head of the civil service; the deputy head of public service/secretary of administrative reform; the state minister and the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Public Service, and a number of public service commissioners.
At the end of some very long days, we still made time to enjoy the hospitality of our Ugandan hosts who ensured we sampled great Ugandan food, music and cultural events.
We spent most of our time in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, but we did travel to Jinja (about two hours drive away) to visit the site of the Uganda Civil Service College. We also visited Lake Victoria at the source of the River Nile, a beautiful area. It was enlightening to see more of the country and people of Uganda.
Our OPS team went to Uganda to provide advice, exchange knowledge, ideas and “best practice’s” and hopefully we did that in a way that was relevant and applicable to their reality. We most certainly learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.
Working with our Ugandan Public Service partners reinforces that we are part of a broader, global public service community. The UPS has dedicated public servants committed to improving their public service in many of the ways we are. They want to improve employee engagement and productivity, build technical skills and leadership capacity, improve service delivery and build public trust. They want to ensure they have a strong public service so they can develop and improve their country and the quality of life for citizens.
Between missions, we keep in contact with our partners through technology to ensure we continue the dialogue, share material, monitor our work plan and achieve our deliverables. We look forward to hosting our Ugandan colleagues this summer in Ontario and continuing on our partnership journey.
Angela Coke is the associate deputy minister, HROntario, Ontario Ministry of Government Services.