Overhauling the machinery of the State

Abdoulaye Makhtar Diop, Minister for the Modernisation of the State, of the Socialist Party of Senegal, talks of the plans for his country

Issue 3, Volume 47, 1998

Senegal is on the road to good governance. It has already experienced improving its public services and is conscious that they must constantly be adapted and modernised.

The democratic basis of its institutions, its process of decentralisation, the recent evolution of its judicial structure, the realisation that its administrative machinery must be modernised and the desire to associate civil society with the question of change are all factors which are part and parcel of good governance. Modernisation in the workings of the State as has been carried out in Senegal has achieved considerable external economies but internally there has been a relative resistance to change.

A dialogue among all parts of the administration, the social partners, the various arms of government, those who use public services, local bodies and non-governmental organisations must in our view precede the definition of the concept of the national policy of modernisation of the State and its execution.

Only a good knowledge of the needs and real preoccupations of the users of public services allow effective solutions to be brought to problems.

The modalities for the achievement of a consensus are in place and must be made to work without delay.

The resulting analysis must tackle structures and employment, public policy, the improvement of internal communication within the public sector, the relationship between the state and the private sector and between the state and its partners in development.

The question must be to better the performance of the public sector by simplifying administrative procedures, improving human resources and bettering the operational structures of ministries and the structures which are associated with them.

The actions, good and bad, of the agents of the state at all levels of responsibility must be examined so as to produce a list of factors which will motivate the organs of government. Present situations must be analysed and the essential content of modernity and better organisation must be studied.

The Committee for the Reduction and Simplification of Administrative Formalities and Procedures, CASFPA, is already at work and great reforms of the work of the State are being put in motion. These embrace a large number of reforms which go from the establishment of a policy for the promotion on merit, the improvement of professional bodies, a review of the work of the National Qualifications Commission to the study of the feasibility of electronic archiving and publication of texts.

They embrace a study of the resources of the ministries; the organisation of the evaluation of public policies; the planning of a strategy to support local initiatives; the completion of reforms to the system of public purchase; the putting into place of a plan for the training of civil servants; the planning of an administrative network for the provision within government of information in real time.

They extend to the scheme for the rationalisation of technical assistance, including the recruitment and placement of personnel and the creation of a data bank of voluntary personnel in technical assistance.

At the same time the functions of the National School for the Administration and Judiciary, ENAM, have to be reorganised. This can be undertaken with the development, inter alia, of an academic network, the launching of an information bulletin, an international colloquium, and improved training to meet new demands.

This is assisted by the Islamic Development Bank.

Included is an effort to improve the state of health of civil servants.

This is contributing to an improvement of the functioning of the state in the cause of Senegal's entry into the world economy. That is needed for the development of the private sector on the world market and the betterment of our macro-economic outlook. It is the launch pad for a durable and controlled period of growth.

The management of the reforms will be the responsibility of the executive secretary of the coordination of quality of public service under the aegis of the Ministry for the Modernisation of the State. This includes the internal study group of the Ministry for the Modernisation of the State, presided over by the Minister himself; the inter-ministerial task force minister aided by an executive secretariat; the inter-ministerial task force will be widened to include other development partners, representatives of local groupings, employers' and workers' organisations and representatives of the consumers of public services and civil society.

The inter-ministerial group is charged with the global management of the process and reports to the authorities.

The basic question mark which is addressed by this activity is an old one. It has to do with the constant renewal of the ancestral alliance of social and economic phenomena. Everything happens as if the stability of this alliance which determines the movement of society is constantly under threat. It is the need of a new alliance of man, nature and society. It is the drive for the `resocialisation' of the management of society's affairs.

This attitude is constant. It is a question of taking stock of the present limits of our social machinery in order to satisfy, as best we may, changing needs. Its establishment is a sign of the desire of the State to adjust its regulatory function to the demands of the normal process which makes social structures more complex as living standards improve and lifestyles evolve.

This initiative is part of a global approach and the interdependence of the systemic elements.

The debate which is going on about the question of modernisation has one merit: it forces us to question the nature and the finality of public service. It has one interest: it allows us to rediscover the foundations of public action. It has one effect: the integration of an analysis of systems allows us to find once again the particular character of social action.



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