The Pacific Public Service Commissioner’s Conference (PPSCC) brings together public services to discuss issues and opportunities to improve public sectors.
This year’s gathering was hosted by the New Zealand Government in Wellington from the 25-27 September 2019, and was attended by 18 countries from around the vast Pacific Ocean. The Samoa public service was represented by Madam Commissioner Lauano Vaosa Epa and Assistant Chief Executive Officer – Human Resource Management, Salilo Tavita-Margraff of the Office of the Public Service Commission.
The theme of ‘Public Leaders Delivering Public Value’ involved the sharing of perspectives and insights on ethics & values, political relationships, and cross-agency collaboration. This can be facilitated through leadership development, managing productive relations and political neutrality with trust, confidence and respect, providing free, frank advice and instilling across the public sector a ‘spirit’ of services.
Key speakers for the thematic areas conveyed that the significance and richness of our Pacific traditions influences the context of the organization. However, we should not use culture as an excuse but to the extent of amicably managing and resolving crisis/conflicts at the workplaces. As leaders engaged in political relationships, it is important to know yourself first to support the government of the day in delivering quality public services.
The sharing of ideas was also facilitated by the Tongan experience in improving wage bill outcomes through HR policy and the performance management system. In creating mutual trust (with government, organization and the public) and supporting good governance, a Self-Assessment of Integrity (SAINT) Tool was also introduced to the Pacific delegates by the New Zealand Office of the Auditor General. Samoa and the Cook Islands are the first two Pacific countries that the tool has been trialed, to assess the maturity of an organization’s integrity system.
In fostering resilient networks to support the development of public sectors of the Pacific countries, an action planning session was facilitated by the New Zealand and Australian state services leaders if the purpose of the PPSCC is being achieved or not, with proposals for improvement as the way forward. Building collaboration and continuity of matters discussed from past conferences was emphasized by the participants of the Pacific countries. There is a need to proactively work towards tangible results to strengthen public sectors through capacity building and information sharing. The set-up of a Secretariat for public services of the Pacific island nations based on the fundamentals of a model/framework developed from the previous conference held in Papua New Guinea will be vigorously pursued with direct pledges of support from New Zealand and Australia.