The capacity of District Service Commissions to manage the recruitment function for Local Governments in Uganda, the case of Luweero District, (1997-2005)
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As Uganda celebrates over a decade experimenting with decentralisation the country is still being teased by the teething problems of staff recruitment in particular recruitment and retention of high calibre civil servants. The overall objective of the study therefore was to investigate how the DSC in Luweero District has conducted personnel recruitment and what have been the challenges inhibiting achievement of the intended goals. The study was guided by three specific objectives namely; to examine the roles and responsibilities of Luweero District Service Commission in the area of personnel recruitment; to examine opportunities, demands and challenges in the recruitment processes at the district; and to provide recommendations on how best districts can recruit appropriately qualified staff into their ranks. The study examined the practice, experience and exercise of staff recruitment by the Luweero district service commission. It analysed the skills of the available staff and how they relate to the current positions and the demands of the district in terms of qualifications of the staffs. In addition the study established the challenges and opportunities in the recruitment process. Qualitative research methods were used for data collection and analysis. In particular the study used interviews, observations, and documentary review. A total of 40 respondents were purposively selected and interviewed. (See Annex A) The study analysed the work of the DSC using New Public Management as a theoretical framework. Emphasis was put on assessing the extent to which the underpinnings of NPM are entrenched in the practise and knowledge of human resource recruitment at the district level. In addition it was used to examine the extent and nature and outcomes of reforms resulting from the application of NPM underpinning as part of the wider public service reforms in Uganda. It was established that the roles and responsibilities of the DSC in particular recruitment is complex and involves coordination with a number of institutions both at the local and national level. The host of institutions involved in the process makes recruitment complex as some line ministries do not have synchronised guidelines on recruitment of technical staff. Whereas, Uganda has experimented with decentralisation for over 15 years, meritocratic recruitment is still a challenge in many respects. This is occasioned by outright failure to follow standards and procedures when recruiting district staff; perception that districts have to consider those born within their boundaries first when recruiting; perception that it is difficult to work in a district where you are not born; poor pay which cannot attract potential employees from far places. The Ministry of public service restructuring and creation of more districts have rendered Luweero District recruitment difficult. The district moved from model 3 to model 2. This affected many civil servants who had to lose their jobs and others who have to be transferred to the new District of Nakaseke. These processes overload the DSC which has to recruit staff for the two districts sometimes under intense pressure, yet the resources are its disposal are not sufficient enough to enable it conduct its duties. Lastly whereas, the DSC was composed with qualified members and duly constituted, because of the manner in which it is appointed, political influence sometime found its way into the recruitment process, sometimes resulting into recruitment of weak candidates. The study concludes that the DSC operates in a political environment with limited safeguards against political influence yet it manages one of the most sensitive components of decentralisation. It is therefore, recommended that the institutional and legal position of the DSC be safeguarded from political influence peddling. All members of the DSC have to be permanent rather than temporary members, with clear qualification requirements enshrined in the legal framework. Line ministries to synchronise guidelines on recruitment of technical staff to avoid situations where the DSC has to follow different guidelines for the different technical staff.