Stemming from the Harold Lutchman report on the commission of inquiry into Guyana’s public service, the Bertram Collins College of the Public Service was launched Wednesday at the Public Service Department’s Training Division.
“The Lutchman Report sets the groundwork for moving forward,” State Minister Joseph Harmon said in his address to the gathering about the 80 recommendations made in the report.
Harmon said the report will be implemented in three phases with the staff college being an important feature of the first phase.
The Minister recalled the perception of Guyana’s public service according to international corruption indices. “I don’t always go with these rates… [but] there was a high level of public service corruption that had to do with interviewing of public servants.”
The School will be headed by retired army colonel Lawrence Paul who championed the vision of President David Granger for the public service.
Recalling the 1968 post-independence commission of inquiry into Guyana’s public service, Paul said many of the issues highlighted then “remain relatively unchanged since 1968.”
Paul said it is the mission of the public servants to serve the government of the day. “The visits and attachments are meant to better prepare the cadets to take up their assigned roles in public service and widen their understanding of the structure and function of public institutions, but more importantly they should be able to understand how Guyana works and should better appreciate why they should dispense their duties with integrity, impartiality and objectivity,” the Ret’d Colonel added.
He emphasized the Lutchman report’s reference to the current public service as being not career-oriented and lacking passion on government policy with widespread corruption.
The college’s new director said the institution hopes to embrace positively to become a transformative institute for changing the behaviour of the public service.
The campus for Public Service College will be located at Ogle, East Coast Demerara on 21 acres of land formerly owned by the Guyana Sugar Corporation.
A feature of the college, according to Paul, is a cadet programme which will graduate 60 cadets yearly. Those cadets, he continued, will be placed at entry level into the public sector.
He did express concern, however, that the position of the cadets and the programme would be challenged by lack of collaboration among the school, the Public Service Commission, and the Public Service Department of the Ministry of the Presidency.
The requirement age for cadets to the college is 17 years to 21 years, and they will be trained in areas including Information Communications Technology, and civil-military strategizing.
Permanent Secretary for the Public Service Deparment, Reginald Brotherson said while there are programmes at the University of Guyana, and programmes which existed at the Guyana Technical Institute which were expected to training public servants, those programs “are not public-service oriented.”
The Permanent Secretary envisions cadets having the opportunity to relate to public servants “how things are done at the college. If you come to the public service in writing, we are going to be in your corner.”