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Opinions Thu, 22 Jan 2015

IMANI Boss must rethink his position

....on Controller and Accountant General Department

By Cletus D Kuunifaa

Is there little doubt that nuance, logic, subtle thinking and critical insight are well beyond the grasp of IMANI boss? The power of words is real and has force in shaping public policy and this, the IMANI boss knows far too well. For that reason it seems worthwhile to debunk and debase the proposition of Mr. Franklin Cudjoe that the Controller and Accountant General Department (CAGD) must be shut down. Franklin has vociferated that: “… the whole department should be “shut down” due to its poor handling of the system and its unacceptable defense against the concerns raised about its work.”

Quite appropriately, considering how terrible much of the outburst of Franklin had been at his insistence on shutting down CAGD, it would look like the last big attack on the government which is horrifying. Suggesting that CAGD be shut down in his op-ed is hitting way below the belt.

Much as he is spot on on purging the bloated wage bill of ghost names, I also do share his disappointment that the Department had not yet efficiently integrated modern technology into their work. The manual operation of the wage bill must cease forthwith as it leaves much to be desired and opens up avenue for unscrupulous officials to exploit to their unpatriotic advantage.

Yet, I disagree with the IMANI boss on shutting the CAGD down entirely. The worst thing about this terrible attack-idea on CAGD by Franklin is by far disappointing and not surprising that a IMANI Think Tank boss is using this outburst for his own tangentially related purpose? Is it a pursuit to integrate the attack into some campaign style?

Now, it is common knowledge that the public sector in Ghana is and has often been described as bureaucratic, inefficient and characterized by lousy and lackluster attitude from employees culminating in low worker output and productivity. The situation still lacks improvement as negative work attitude of various forms have manifested within the sector for decades and has decimated productivity within the Ghanaian public sector. This, as we know it, is a fact. It’s a fixture. And what is more worrisome is the fact that the status quo continues within the sector unabated!

What, we at TMC Group have proposed as solutions at this juncture to remedy the situation, is a positive transformation of the public sector with respect to work ethics, the use of modern technology which, by and large, will improve efficiency and increase productivity.

Digitizing the system to have a sanitized payroll database is a first step to purging the system of ghost names. It’s pure and simple: Using technology to prevent ghost names on the payroll database is the most proven and efficient way of doing away with ghost names.

Once a full proof and Resilient Payroll Management System (PMS) is built, it surely will be built on a secured platform and will require using multiple passwords and access authentication before updates. Such a system must be remotely monitored in real-time.

Since the PMS will be linked to “Punch time” technology (Biometric time-clock), security layers will be implemented to prevent buddy punching and ghost names.

But most importantly, changes to payroll database will be done only by a few officers who have rights on the file so that if there is any fraud it will be easily traceable and the culprits dealt with accordingly. Interestingly, this technology has the added advantage of creating reports to monitor productivity, creating new changes in terms of security to counter all the loop holes that have existed in the old payroll system as well as analyzing the data to be able to detect patterns leading to fraud and preventive measures.

The Ghanaian public sector must be ready to eliminate work time fraud through the use of punch time technology to sanitize the system. The public sector must be ready to plug the loopholes for time theft at work places. This can be done through Punch time technology in building an efficient and transparent work environment in Ghana.

The idea is to demand accountability from all categories of public employees: wages must reflect time invested in productivity. All across the globe, for government to match in performance in productivity, automated systems have been proven to be capable of introducing massive efficiencies to business processes that can result in increased productivity.

Therefore, applying technological solutions such as the use of punch time technology towards the strategic goals for the government will be a key step towards transforming the public sector into an entity that can keep abreast of the needs, requirements and expectations of today's modern world.

Once the payroll database has been digitized, additional names will have to be verified and authenticated which will require several steps as mentioned above. It will be extremely difficult for someone to condone and connive to add some ghost names. Reason why changes to payroll database will be done only by a few officers who have rights on the file so that if there is any fraud it will be easily traceable and the culprits dealt with accordingly.

This is the only way to curtail the rife and rampant corruption in the system, instead of throwing the baby with the bath water, literally shutting down the CAGD, as is being advocated by Mr. Cudjoe.

Cletus D Kuunifaa

TMC Group

Can be contacted at dipnibe@yahoo.com or Follow him on twitter @ckuunifaa

Columnist: Kuunifaa, Cletus D