Office of the Head of the Civil Service

About Civil Service

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In accordance with Article 190 of the 1992 Constitution, the Civil Service forms part of the Public Services of Ghana. In accordance with Section 1(3) of the Civil Service Act, 1993 (PNDC Law 327), the Service comprises service in a civil office of the Government.

The Civil Service is the main agency through which the Executive arm of Government operates.

One critical role of the Ghana Civil Service is its stabilizing influence on the political life of the country. During political transition periods, the Civil Service as the permanent Government institution holds the fort until the incoming Political Administration is in place.



The history of the Ghana Civil Service is linked with the establishment of the British Colonial Service in the Gold Coast.  The Service was established as the main instrument of the British imperial policy concerned with,
  • Maintenance of Law and order
  • Imposition and collection of taxes and
  • Exploitation of the rich mineral deposits and other natural resources of the colony.


One major reform activity which changed the role and functions of the then colonial Civil Service and led to its modernization was the Africanisation policy and programme introduced by Governor Gordon Guggisberg between 1925-1926.  This was the first comprehensive plan for the development of an indigenous Civil Service. The Africanisation plan was aimed at:
  • Increasing the number of Africans holding European appointments
  • Reducing the high cost of employing Europeans and
  • Creating local machinery for accelerated development.
In furtherance of the Africanization programme, a series of initiatives were undertaken.


This commission carried out a survey of government departments the findings of which led to:
  • The establishment of a scholarship programme which ensured the training of both junior and senior Officers
  • The establishment of an interim Public Services Commission in 1948 to advice the Governor on appointments and promotions in the Public Service.
  • The drawing up of a scheme for the progressive education and training of Africans to take up senior appointments in the Civil Service.


The Harragin Commission introduced the negotiation of Terms and Conditions of Service of the Civil Services of British West Africa.  The Commission also introduced the idea of 2 levels of staff negotiations, one for the junior service and the other for the senior service.


This was the first real attempt made to reform the structures of the machinery of government and the Public Service.  The Lidbury Commission made wide-ranging recommendations namely:
  • Re-designing of the structure of the machinery of government
  • Restructuring of the Civil Service
  • Establishment of statutory corporations to assume certain functions of government and
  • New salary structure and Conditions of Service
The Commission adopted the British Civil Service administrative system as a model in the restructuring.  As a result, the Departments and portfolios in the Colonial Office were converted into Ministries when the Gold Coast gained internal self-government in 1951.  Since then, many Ministries and Government Departments have been created, restructured, or re-aligned to suit the needs of the times.


The Independence of Ghana heralded an era during which emphasis was placed on national development and public welfare.  Civil Servants therefore became the main instruments for executing/implementing the policy direction.


In line with the 1960 first Republican Constitution, a New Charter for the Civil Service was published.  The Charter defined the functions of the Civil Service, its control and administration processes. This was to ensure that the Civil Service was efficiently designed and properly equipped to support and play its role in the development of the country.  In addition, the Civil Service Act (CA 5) was passed. One important feature of the law was the creation of the Establishment Secretariat and the post of the Head of the Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet. The Law also provided for the following:
  • The creation of Civil Service posts,
  • The setting up of Ministries and Departments,
  • The appointment and retirement of Civil Servants, and
  • The conditions of service, disciplinary processes and other matters relating to the Civil Service
The 1960 Act (CA 5) subsisted until the promulgation of the 1992 Constitution and the Civil Service Law 1993 (PNDCL 327). Both pieces of legislation made the Ghana Civil Service part of the Public Services of Ghana and defined the Service as comprising service in a civil office of Government (central and local government).


PUBLIC SERVICES STRUCTURE AND SALARIES COMMISSION (MILLS ODOI COMMISSION, 1966) This Commission was established in 1966 by the government of the National Liberation Council to review the structure and organization of the Public Services. The purpose of the review was to, among others, align the machinery of Government for a rapid social and economic development of the country, and to recommend new salary structures for the Public Services in line with the general economic circumstances of the country.  The Commission’s recommendations, particularly its reform of the machinery of government i.e. the policy of decentralization and salary recommendations, were adopted.


OKOH COMMISSION The Okoh Commission was set up in 1974 by the National Redemption Council Government to review the structure and procedures of the Civil Service. The main objective of the Commission was to make recommendations for reforms with special regard to the transformation of the Civil Service into a dynamic instrument of social change and economic development. Prior to the Okoh Commission, the Head of the Civil Service was also the Secretary to Cabinet. The major recommendations of the Commission were that:
  • A new and separate post of Head of Civil Service should be created, and appointment made from the regular Civil Service to fill the post which should remain a career position,
  • The Head of Civil Service should have direct access at all times to the Head of Government and report to him on Civil Service matters,
  • The Principal Secretary post could no longer be the preserve of members of the Administrative Class. It should be open to all Civil Servants and to people outside the Civil Service.


The PARDIC was set up in 1983 by the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) Government to review the earlier reforms, particularly the Decentralization programme and to accelerate its implementation.  One major recommendation of the PARDIC was the introduction of 4 functional Directorates for Ministries and refocusing the Ministries mandate on policy formulation, monitoring and evaluation.


The Civil Service Reform Programme (CSRP) was part of the Government of Ghana’s Economic Reform Programme (ERP) Initiative.

The objective of CSRP was to make the Civil Service:

  1. Productive
  2. Effective
  3. Strengthen its capacity for the implementation of development programmes.

Key Achievements

  1. Administrative and management improvement across the Service.
  2. A new staff appraisal system was instituted.
  3. Realignment of functions in the work of the various ministries.
  4. The leadership of the Civil Service re-focused on training.
  5. Staff rationalization (reduction of service staff strength from 163,000 to 93,000).
  6. The National Archive of Ghana was reorganized and restructured into Public Records and Archives Administration Department (PRAAD).
  7. A new Civil Service Law was passed- the Civil Service Law, 1993 (PNDCL, 327).
  8. GIMPA designed new management training programs.

 The CSRP was a Public Service wide reform programme which consisted of a number of components rather than being carried out as an OHCS central exercise, executed from the core of the Civil Service. The CSRP and subsequent activities were not sufficiently understood, conceived, planned or managed.


The Civil Service Performance Improvement Programme (CSPIP) was a homegrown reform initiative launched in March 1995 with technical and financial support from the UK Department for International Development (DfID). It had an overall objective of promoting improvements in the Civil Service and enhancing efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of services in a client-sensitive manner in all Civil Service institutions. It undertook to do this through institutional capacity strengthening programmes in MDAs and instituting a good governance culture in all aspects of the organization and management of the Civil Service. It introduced important management concepts such as the development of performance improvement plans into the work of MDAs.


As part of the decentralization programme the Local Government Act 462 (1993), Local Government Service Act 656 (2003) and the Local Government (Departments of District Assemblies (Commencement) Instrument, 2009 (L.I. 1961) established the Local Government Service as separate and distinct from the Civil Service with its own Council and service conditions. Consequently, in March 2011, the Local Government Service was decoupled from the Civil Service.

The decentralization process was further strengthened with the amalgamation of all the legislation relating to Local Government structures and governance systems into the Local Government Act 2016, Act 913.


As indicated earlier under the definition of the Civil Service, the current Civil Service was established under Civil Service Act, 1993 (PNDCL 327).


  • The Civil Service initiates and formulate policy options for the consideration of the government.
  • The Civil Service initiates and advises on government plans.
  • The Civil Service undertakes the necessary research for the effective implementation of government policies.
  • The Civil Service implements government policies.
  • The Civil Service reviews government policies and plans.
  • The Civil Service monitors, co-ordinates and evaluates government policies and plans.
  • The Civil Service performs functions that are incidental or conducive to the achievement of the object specified in section 2 of the PNDC Law 327 of the 1993 constitution.
  • The Civil Service performs such other functions that the Government may direct.


The mandate of the Ghana Civil Service is to assist the Government in the formulation and implementation of Government Policies for the development of the country.


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