The Department of the Public Service, formerly known as the Public Service Ministry has undergone several changes over the years.
Before 1953 the Public Service of the British Guiana was administered under the traditional colonial system. Constitutional responsibility for all staff matters was assigned to the Chief Secretary and discharged through the Establishment Department.
When the Ministerial system was recommended by the Constitution Commission of 1950-51, it was suggested that an independent Public Service Commission be set up to guarantee the political neutrality of the Public Service. The Government accepted the recommendation and established the Commission in 1953. The Governor still had absolute discretion in matters of appointment, promotion, transfer, training and discipline.
In 1960 at a conference in London it was decided that the Public Service Commission would become an executive body (it did not actually become an executive body until 26 May 1966). The Personnel Section of the Establishment Department was converted to the Secretariat of the Commission, and the Commission replaced the Chief Secretary on December 1, 1960 as Personal Adviser to the Governor. At the same time the Governor assigned responsibility for the Establishment Section to the Financial Secretary.
The Establishment Section was later known as the Establishment Division of the Ministry of Finance. Along with the Public Service Commission, the Establishment Division of the Ministry of Finance was the other main agency for central control of personnel administration. The function of the Establishment Division covered the following:
Establishments, complements, grading, salaries, wages, allowances, conditions of service (including leave, passages, invalidating procedure), Whitley Councils and other staff negotiations, wages committees, uniform, rent, examinations, advances and allowances, administration of estates of deceased officers, resignations, widows’ and orphans’ pensions, staff proposals in annual and supplementary estimates, organisation and methods, general orders, staff lists, petitions regarding the above matters.
It was the Burgess and Hunn report of 1966 that recommended the severance of the Establishment Division from the Ministry of Finance, so that the management of personnel could be expanded to a full Ministry, with a Permanent Secretary of its own.
That proposed new ministry was the Public Service Ministry which would comprise the following four divisions:
Public Service Ministry was one of the ministries affected by the restructuring and rationalisation review of the Public Service, which occurred during the period, January to June 1991. This was part of the Public Service Reform Programme.
As a result of the review, 18 Ministries were contracted to 11 ministries. Public Service Ministry was merged into the Office of the President to create an integrated new entity with clearly defined aims and objectives, a rational structure, appropriate staffing establishment, able to operate efficiently and effectively.
Another significant aim as a consequence of the review was to strengthen the public service management function, by locating it in the senior ministry, Office of the President.
Public Service Management became one of the four distinct areas of responsibility of the Head of the Presidential Secretariat (HPS). The HPS was considered the head of the Public Service. The Permanent Secretary of the Department of the Public Service is now the Head of the Public Service.