Meaning, Characteristics, and Functions of Civil Service
Civil Service is the administrative arm of the executive organ of the government responsible for formulating and implementing government policies, programmes, and projects.
Civil Service is structured into Ministries and Departments, e.g Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education, with specific powers and functions to determine, plan and execute government policies, programmes and projects.
The Permanent Secretary (Director-General) is the Administrative Head and Accounting Officer of a Ministry, while the Minister is the Political Head and Chief Executive.
Characteristics of Civil Service:
The following are characteristics of the Civil Service:
(i) Political Neutrality: Civil Servants are politically neutral. Civil Servants cannot take part in partisan politics. Any Civil servant that wants to join politics and contest elections will have to resign from his or her appointment. Political neutrality is very essential as it ensures objectivity in civil service advice and service to the government. They discharge their duties efficiently without fear or favour.
Political interference in Civil Service will be eliminated and the permanency of the Civil Servant is respected. The government will not interfere with the appointment, promotion dismissal, and retirement of civil servants. Very importantly, corruption, nepotism, tribalism, and favouritism will be reduced to the barest minimum.
(ii) Permanence: Civil Service is a permanent political institution. The structure cannot be changed easily. The Civil Servants enjoy Job Security.
(iii) Anonymity: The Civil Servants are to be seen and not heard. They are not to speak to the public (the Press) on official issues without authorization of the appropriate authority. Only the minister or Director Generals are authorized to speak to the public on official matters.
(iv) Impartiality: The Civil Servants are to discharge their duties without fear or favour. They should serve any government in power, their political leaning or interest notwithstanding. Workers are to show faith in any government in power.
(v) Meritocracy: Employment, Promotion in the Civil Service is based on merit. This enhances productivity and efficiency.
(vi) Expertise: Civil Servants should be experts in performing their duties. Expertise in the Civil Service will reduce waste and improve the quality of service
(vii) Protocol/Bureaucracy: The Civil Servants in discharging their duties must adhere to strict, laid down rules and procedures. Violation of such rules amounts to misconduct and can attract different sanctions depending on the nature of the offence. The heaviest sanction is dismissal.
(viii) Patriotism: Civil Servants must be loyal to their country. They must love and show faith in their country.
(ix) Transparency: Civil Servants must be open and accessible as they discharge their duties.
Functions of Civil Service:
(i) Civil Service is the instrument of government that formulates government policies, programmes, and projects and implements them.
(ii) It provides continuity between different government administrations. Government changes but Civil Service remains, this ensures continuity.
(iii) They advise the government, especially top-ranking civil servants e.g. Permanent Secretary, Head of Service, etc.
(iv) They prepare an annual budget. The various ministries and departments prepare their budget which is put together by the government.
(v) Civil Service performs quasi-legislative functions through delegated legislation e.g. Statutory Instruments.
(vi) Civil Servants keep government records. These records are kept in files, software, and computers for easy reference and retrieval.
(vii) It drafts bills that the legislature can deliberate on.
deliberate on (someone or something) – To consider, discuss, or confer about someone or something, often for a lengthy period of time.
(viii) The Civil Service collects and keeps government revenue. It decides the amount of taxes to be paid by people, companies, and public corporations.