In a bid to transform Uganda’s Public Service Delivery, the Ministry of Public Service has prioritized professionalizing four Common Cadres i.e. Human Resource Officers, Records Management Officers, Secretarial Staff and Office Management Cadre. The objective is to improve the qualities, skills, competences and behaviours of the Common Cadres to enable them contribute meaningfully to the achievement of excellence in Public Service development.
Accordingly, the Ministry of Public Service organized a Secretarial Cadre Forum from 28th – 30th November 2017 at the Civil Service College Uganda – Jinja, under the theme: ‘Enhancing Capacity of the Secretarial Cadre for the Transformation of the Uganda Public Service’. The forum which had been initially organised for 400 participants attracted 585 participants drawn from various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies & Local Governments.
While officiating at the opening of the forum, the Director Human Resource Management, Mrs. Adah K. Muwanga on behalf of the Permanent Secretary noted that the Forum was very significant as it had brought together a target group that performs the critical functions of Public Relations and Customer Care in the line Ministries and Local Governments. She commended the secretaries for the role they play noting that they are the Ambassadors of the Ministry of Public Service to their respective entities. She emphasized that the secretarial cadre are the face of organizations and urged them to embrace Government’s commitment to transform the Uganda Public Service by efficiently, effectively and transparently responding to the needs of their clients.
The forum was facilitated by a number experts drawn from consultants, secretarial practitioners and technical personnel in different fields. Presentations were made on the following topics: Personal Effectiveness-Planning and improving work processes in the Uganda Public Service (UPS); Conflict Management, Resolutions and Workplace Relations; Customer Care and Public Relations Management; Office Etiquette & Stress Management at the Work place; Planning for Retirement/Exit in UPS; Capacity Building and Career Management for Secretarial Cadre; Effective Records Management for a professional Secretary; and Work life Balance: Planning for Financial Independence.
Some of the key emerging issues included:
- The need to review the nomenclature of Secretary/Typist to Administrative Assistant;
- The need to review the Scheme of Service for Secretarial Cadre and structure and to create a department at the Ministry of Public Service headed by a Commissioner assisted by Assistant Commissioner;
- Non-certification for professionalism in the Secretarial Profession;
- Lack of Exposure to benchmark on the best practices for the secretarial cadre;
- Non participation in field work yet the secretaries are asked to process the field work reports;
- Non consideration for training opportunities;
- Salary and Allowance disparities within the government entities;
- Non-payment of over time when work goes beyond the stipulated working hours;
- Non participation of Senior Secretaries in Senior Management Meetings;
- Lack of natural justice when secretaries are presumed to be at fault;
- Ill-categorisation of secretarial cadre as “Support Staff”.
The forum made resolutions and recommendations as follows:
i. To make the Secretarial Cadre Forum an annual five (5) day event;
ii. To orient supervisors in the roles of secretaries;
iii. To advise the Accounting Officers on payment of over time allowances in accordance with the Uganda Public Service Standing Orders 2010;
iv. To encourage participants to join the Association of Secretarial & Administrative Professions in Uganda – ASAPU;
The forum was officially closed by the Minister of State for Public Service, Hon. David Karubanga who urged the participants to embrace the spirit of hard work, selfless commitment and team work to improve the quality of public service delivery. He also urged them to guard against indiscipline that can dent the image of the Uganda Public Service.
The Minister reiterated government’s commitment to handle pay disparity issues that had been raised and said that there was hope that the Salary Review Commission to be constituted by Government would comprehensively address the challenges faced by the public servants across board regarding pay.