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ADB finds public workers repeating same tasks

By Giff Johnson MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, April 16, 2010) - An audit of a small sample of Marshall Islands government workers in three ministries shows that a majority has incorrect job descriptions, and many workers are duplicating the work of other employees.

The snapshot audit, funded by the Asian Development Bank as part of a broader program of supporting government reforms in the Marshall Islands, is expected to lead to a more detailed personnel audit later this year, according to government officials in Majuro.

"Outcomes from this limited personnel audit suggest it would be of benefit for the Public Service Commission to conduct a similar but more detailed audit across all ministries," said the report compiled in December and released Wednesday.

Along with staff from the three targeted ministries -- Health, Education and Public Works -- and Finance, the Public Service Commission audit checked a total of 50 workers and their job classifications, job descriptions, purpose of the job and key tasks.

The report said because of the small numbers checked the main importance of the audit is to point out "possible problem areas for further investigation and action."

In looking at duplication of work by people working in the same ministry, the audit said they found at Public Works that nine of 16 workers had "unjustified duplication."

"This together with inaccurate or no job descriptions suggests unclear roles and responsibility," the audit said. "It is also difficult to manage the performance of work teams and individuals if staff is unclear about what is expected of them."

The audit found unjustified duplication of work at Health and Education as well, with an overall 15 of 50 workers in duplicate roles, or 30 percent of those positions checked.

The audit also discovered that nearly seven of ten job descriptions were either "mostly inaccurate," or didn’t exist.

It also found some workers being over and underpaid for their qualifications and experience.

"While this number is small, it is still a serious concern," the audit said.

The audit showed that of the 50 people checked, nine were not being paid correctly. This resulted in an annual overpayment of US$7,290. If that figure is extrapolated to the Marshall Islands workforce of about 2,400, it would amount to an annual overpayment of about US$380,000.

The results of a more detailed audit of the public service "could then be used to prepare a job evaluation exercise that would aim to bring equity and consistency of responsibility levels and remuneration to the public sector," the report said. "This would be an important step toward workforce planning and rationalization of the public service to reduce expenditure and achieve sustained organizational performance through the development of a capable workforce."

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