The fourteen Pacific Island Countries (PIC), Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu,and Vanuatu, served by PICPA are diverse in terms of geographical location, population, history and development. The PIC have an estimated population as of mid-2011 of 9,151,490 and a total land area of 530,067sq km covering approximately 20 million sq. kms of ocean. The PIC have an estimated total number of 155,300 public servants tasked with providing services to this large area. In addition the PIC have a large number of recognised languages: Papua New Guinea has over 800; Solomon Islands has approximately 100 and Vanuatu has 120. Governance indicators suggest that the challenges faced by PIC are significant with perceptions of low levels of government effectiveness coupled with high levels of corruption. The indicators provide a strong rationale for supporting the strengthening of administrative governance.
Administrative governance issues
PIC, in general, demonstrate weaknesses in general administrative systems and processes which contribute to low effectiveness of government policies and processes. These become binding constraints on the achievement of their national development goals such as economic growth, as well as internationally agreed goals such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). In 2009 a survey of administrative capabilities of PIC solicited the following inputs by policy practitioners:
- Absence of strong citizen demand for good governance/accountability.
- Poor Parliamentary oversight of government performance and weak accountability institutions.
- Political interference – unlawful actions and/or contravention of public sector codes of conduct, often condoned by political leaders.
- Politicisation of senior agency appointments.
- Distorted incentives to political leaders and bureaucrats – perpetuating corruption.
- Weak policy development and poor implementation of policy.
- Structural issues – e.g. central agencies exercise an inappropriate level of control over human resources in agencies.
- Legislation and regulations are often not accessible, out of date or ignored.
- Low levels of accountability for expenditure and performance.
- Inward-looking agencies that do not develop external partnerships and seek improvement.
- Poor communication and coordination between agencies and levels of government – undermining cross government portfolio and budget planning processes.
Leadership and management
- Weak/non-existent or counterproductive political leadership.
- Weak leadership and management at all levels.
- Absence of qualified staff at the middle management level.
- Absence of vision.
- Principles of management and issues of equity poorly misunderstood.
- Financial allocations undertaken without link to plans, performance and budget processes.
- Salaries and allowances account for most financial resources, leaving little for purchase of goods and services to fulfil core state functions.
- Poor allocation of staff.
- Limited pool of appropriately qualified personnel to fill public service positions.
- Poor basic and secondary education limits the pool of talent.
- Migration has played a major role in encouraging a ‘brain drain’.
- Lowering the compulsory retirement age has pushed out some experienced public servants.