New Chief Secretary Ben Graham is focused on ramping up performance and accountability in the RMI government to implement President Heine’s Agenda 2020 objectives. Graham took up the Chief Secretary role in mid-August. He is focused on “strengthening government performance” by developing systems and compliance structures. Key areas of action that Graham is focusing on include strengthening:
• Governance in government and its agencies. This includes a new initiative of public officials declaring their compliance with ethics requirements; strengthening legislation related to governance; focusing on audit “findings” (problems) to fix them, particularly in RMI agencies with repeat findings year after year; and improvement of accountability and oversight of agencies by board members.
• Public financial management. A recent review of government financial management has produced a financial management “road map” that is being followed as part of the reform, with support of donor partners. Other actions include reforming the procurement system with greater oversight of the bidding process and the RMI Bid Committee; focusing on eliminating conflicts of interest by government officials in the procurement process; and identifying a member of Nitijela to champion accountability.
• Performance management. Secretary-level public servants are being put on performance-based contracts that require annual evaluations and contracts that include end dates; management training in leadership and performance is to be expanded; all ministries are being required to budget maintenance funding for facilities and equipment. These are all objectives of the President’s Agenda 2020 plan, he said.
Read more about this in the September 29, 2017 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.