The history of the Cabinet Secretariat goes back to colonial times when the office was established to service the executive decision-making role of the colonial administration. Since then, despite the political and administrative changes that have taken place in Sierra Leone, the centrality of the Cabinet Secretariat has not changed much. The Cabinet Secretariat continues to exist as a key part of the Office of the President supporting the decision-making function of the Executive Branch of the Government of Sierra Leone.
As Secretary to the Cabinet, I am also the Head of the Civil Service, a dual role that gives me a unique perspective on governance in Sierra Leone. The mandate of the Cabinet Secretariat remains vitally important; we have the responsibility to promote strategic improvements in policymaking, as well as ensure effective implementation of strategies and programmes for achieving results in development and poverty reduction. While our core functions remain organizing the business of the Cabinet and coordinating and supervising administrative and professional heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), we have modified the means through which we achieve these objectives, strengthening our coordination and collaborative networks both locally and internationally, and being more proactive in supporting the activities of MDAs.
Over the years, the Secretariat has been challenged by a myriad of problems including the lack of adequate resources, staffing, and the failure to embrace change in a dynamic and evolving public sector environment. Significantly also, poor data management infrastructure, including the lack of a modern database system and poor IT systems, posed a security risk and hindered public accessibility. The Secretariat found itself seriously limited in providing strategic leadership to the Civil Service, and was perceived to be a mere ‘conveyor belt’ for Cabinet memoranda.
Since I was appointed as Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service in March 2013, I have initiated a restructuring of the Secretariat, in a bid to improve our business processes. The reforms have focused on two key areas, (i) upgrading our structures to function-based units and staffing, and (ii) revising the Cabinet Manual to support evidence-informed policy formulation and decision-making.
Our efforts at reform have yielded significant gains; we now have functional units manned by qualified professionals, coordination and communication have been greatly enhanced by the introduction of weekly Management Meetings and monthly General Staff Meetings, as well the establishment of an Outlook e-mailing system for correspondence. As a result of our improved systems, in 2014 we were able to formally manage the Performance Contract system for officers on Grades 11 and upwards for the Pay and Performance project, a feat I commend my able staff for accomplishing.
On behalf of myself and the staff of the Cabinet Secretariat, you're welcome to the Official Website of the Cabinet Secretariat!
Dr. Ernest S. A. Surrur
Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service