Statement Delivered by Josiah F. Joekai, Jr., Director-General of the Civil Service Agency (CSA) of Liberia On the Occasion of his Official Takeover as the Director-General of the Civil Service Agency on March 12, 2024

Honorable Members of the Legislature and other Officials of Government 

Rev., Dr. Victor G. Padmore & Clergy Members of the Lutheran Church in Liberia

Deputy Director-General for Human Resource Management and Policy 

Deputy Director-General for Administration

Family Members, Esteemed Colleagues, and Well-Wishers

The Fourth Estate

Fellow Citizens

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Today, as I reflect on the cherished memories of my late father, Barkolleh K. Joekai, Sr., I am filled with a deep sense of admiration for the values he instilled in me from a young age – values of service, integrity, and the essence of true leadership. His legacy continues to guide me each day. In honor of my father’s memory, I humbly request all of you to join me in a moment of silence, paying tribute to the man whose influence shaped me into who I am today.

Furthermore, I am honored to express my heartfelt appreciation to my beloved wife, Mrs. Joana D. Joekai, and our three remarkable sons, Josiah, Zick, and JoeJoe. Today, Josiah and Mommy are standing here beside me, representing the unity of our family. Zick and Joe-Joe to join us soon giving us joy as we reunite to uphold the bonds of love and unity that have always defined us. Together, we are a testament to the enduring power of family bonds. I love you guys.

I extend my sincere appreciation, on behalf of my family, to the President, His Excellency Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Sr., for bestowing upon me the esteemed position of Director-General of the Civil Service Agency (CSA). It is with profound honor that I accept this appointment, recognizing its immense responsibility and the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the President’s noble ARREST agenda to build a new Liberia that serves the interests of all Liberians.

I am deeply grateful to the distinguished members of the Senate Committee on

Autonomous Agency, led by Chairman Senator Crayton Duncan and Co-Chairman Senator Johnny Kpoto Kpehe, for thoroughly examining me during the confirmation hearing to ensure that I am the best fit for this critical national role. Indeed, I am humbled by their confidence in me.

Furthermore, I wish to specifically express my heartfelt appreciation to the offices of the Vice President, Hon. Jeremiah Kpan-Koung, the President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Hon. Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Thomas Fallah, the Chairman on Foreign Relations Senator Abraham Darius Dillion, and the Chairman on Ways, Means and Finance, Senator Prince Moye for their unwavering support throughout the confirmation proceedings. Their guidance and encouragement were invaluable, and I am committed to fulfilling the responsibilities entrusted to me with utmost dedication and integrity.

My academic journey reflects a commitment to lifelong learning and a passion for advancing knowledge in service to society. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Liberia and a Master of Arts in Peace Studies and Conflict Transformation from the same esteemed institution. Currently, I am a Ph.D. candidate in Industrial-Organizational Psychology at Adler University in Chicago, Illinois, United States of America. The emphasis of my Ph.D. is in workforce, leadership, and institutional development exactly a solid credential needed for the position of Director-General of the Civil Service Agency.

Also, I am a published author with my books sold by many online marketplaces including Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, and physical bookstores in Liberia and the United States. Additionally, I have published several peer-reviewed articles that strongly support research in democracy and elections, politics, and governance.

Professionally, I have had the privilege of serving across diverse sectors, both in Liberia and the United States. From roles in the Ministry of Education in Liberia to leadership positions in the United States, I served as Executive Programs Manager at the Charter School Collective of the State of Connecticut and Customer Service Specialist at DMT Solutions Global Corporation. I have consistently sought to leverage my expertise to drive meaningful impact and foster positive change.

In Liberia, I served as Executive Director of the Liberia National Commission on Arms, where I led initiatives to ensure effective arms management and security within our beloved nation, and as Director of Civic and Voter Education at the National Elections Commission, where I led efforts to foster equitable participation and peaceful electoral processes. These experiences have equipped me with vital acumen into the complexities of our governance systems, conflict resolution, and organizational development, which I am eager and committed to bring to bear in service to our beloved country. A profound commitment to excellence, integrity, and inclusivity has guided my journey.

I am deeply humbled by the opportunity provided to me by His Excellency, the President, to bring this wealth of experience and passion for positive change to the civil service. I am committed to working assiduously to advance the mission of building a more efficient, responsive, and inclusive civil service for the people of Liberia.

Fellow Liberians, the CSA is a cornerstone institution with the mandate to enhance efficiency and centralize personnel management within Liberia’s governmental framework. It is tasked with the comprehensive administration of the Civil Service, involving essential functions such as capacity planning, recruitment, training, performance management, and career advancement.

Moreover, the CSA is a strategic advisor to the Government of Liberia, providing counsel on organizational structuring, staffing strategies, compensation packages, pension schemes, and broader human resource development initiatives. With a commitment to fostering competence, professionalism, and motivation among civil servants, the CSA plays a pivotal role in ensuring the proficiency and responsiveness of our civil service to meet the government’s workforce needs.

Today, I sincerely thank my predecessor, Mr. James A. Thompson, the former Director-General, and his team for their stewardship of the CSA. I am committed to building upon their efforts to propel our Civil Service toward greater efficiency and effectiveness.

However, fellow citizens, as I step into the role of Director-General of the CSA, I am fully aware of the enormity of the challenges confronting our nation’s Civil

Service. The current state of the government’s workforce requires immediate and decisive reform actions.

As take over today, March 12, 2024, the bank balance of the CSA USD Account is $191.00, and the LRD Account is $10,200.00. As of February 2024, the total employee strength of the CSA alone is 322, of which more than 200 sits at the central office with a total wage bill of US$ 227,416.62. Furthermore, I have inherited an overstuffed payroll, currently sustaining 67,746 employees across the 103 spending entities, with an alarming average monthly wage bill of US$23 543 874 64.

This financial burden is seriously straining government resources and depriving citizens of crucial social services such as education, healthcare, infrastructure, and sanitation. In the coming days, the CSA will take stringent measures to significantly streamline our workforce, eliminating redundancies, inefficiencies, and irregularities.

Employment expectations are extremely high. I am also aware of the government’s responsibility to create employment opportunities and other basic social services. However, in the immediate term, we are shifting focus from employment to cleaning up the payroll. This action is paramount to fixing the longstanding payroll complexities, huge financial burden, and workforce inefficiencies.

Immediately following today’s turnover ceremony, the CSA, with approval from His Excellency the President, will request the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to conduct a comprehensive national forensic payroll audit of the 103 spending entities for the period, 2022-2023. The payrolls of the CSA and the Central Administration of the National Legislature will also be audited.

With the stern support of our donor partners, a similar audit was conducted in 2021 by the GAC for the period January 1 2018-December 31, 2021. We extend profound thanks and appreciation to the GAC for undertaking this national critical task and to our donor partners for their immeasurable support.

Based on the grave findings of that audit and the Auditor General’s position underscoring significant risk factors such as illegitimate individuals or personnel being paid for services not performed; payment made to ghost employees, thereby leading to fraud, waste, and misappropriation; illegitimate excuses provided for individuals who abandoned their official duties; and employees who left their entities due to resignation, dismissal, redundancy, and death, but are still receiving salaries. These are just a few of the critical risk factors that pointedly threaten the efficiency and productivity of our civil service. Based on these factors, the Auditor General recommended the following:

  • The Comptroller and Accounting General office place a moratorium on the salaries of all employees not verified in the physical verification exercise and for whom legitimate excuses were not provided.
  • Individuals not verified during the verification exercise should avail themselves along with all relevant employment documents to the office of the auditor General within 90 days of issuing the final report.
  • Individuals who are not verified within a 90-day period should be permanently removed from the government of Liberia payroll.
  • Excuse of absence should be verified on a case-by-case basis. All individuals for whom excuses were granted on the basis of annual, maternity leave and representation on official duties are required to avail themselves to the Auditor General for verification within 90 days.

The human resource and internal audit functions of the affected entities should ensure periodic review of employment documentation, perform periodic head counts/physical verifications, and conduct periodic reconciliation of payroll to detect and correct payroll processing errors and fraud.

Unfortunately, these recommendations have not been implemented, evidenced by the existence of the very same redundancies, inefficiencies, and irregularities accounting for the bloated payroll and underqualified individuals occupying critical positions across various entities. Therefore, the CSA will waste no time ensuring that this much-needed payroll audit is immediately conducted.

Once the payroll is sanitized, the workforce and wage bill are significantly streamlined for the first time across our Civil Service, and with the approval of His Excellency, the President, and the Senate, the CSA will fully implement a biweekly payment system for all civil servants. For example, if a teacher, police officer, or nurse makes a net monthly salary of US$300.00 or its Liberian Dollar equivalent, he/she will receive US$150.00 every two weeks on the 15th and 30th of each month.

This crucial action is doable my friends. All we need to do is readjust our agreement with the commercial banks to make the first payment to civil servants on the 15th of each month. We will work with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to ensure that salary remittances to commercial banks are made before the 30th so that on the 30th, civil servants can receive their second and final payment of the month. So you see, as I said, this is doable and it will be implemented.

This critical measure will relieve our citizens of the harsh financial burden of borrowing money and paying it back at high interest rates. Many of them spend their income before the month ends. In short, “dig hole, cover hole” as I described during my confirmation hearing. The measure will empower families to put food on their tables, invest in small-scale businesses, and pay their children’s tuition and fees on time to keep them in school, not on the streets. Furthermore, the measure will keep money circulating, thereby significantly addressing liquidation issues.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, our Civil Service lacks effective recruitment, testing, onboarding, and performance management systems. This deficiency hampers our ability to attract and retain top talents, resulting in underqualified personnel occupying critical positions. To remedy this, we will overhaul our recruitment processes, implement rigorous testing mechanisms, and establish robust onboarding programs to ensure that only the most competent individuals are selected for roles within the Civil Service.

Additionally, we will establish robust systems for storing and updating employee information, facilitating recruitment and onboarding processes, and implementing effective time and attendance tracking mechanisms to ensure each employee receives pay for time worked. Furthermore, the CSA will take appropriate measures to enhance performance management practices, provide employee training and development opportunities, and streamline payroll processing and benefits administration procedures.

Under my watch, the CSA will establish a comprehensive database of Liberian professionals in various fields at home and abroad. The goal is to ensure that Liberian professionals or experts are first considered for providing technical and professional services to various government entities. We will work closely with our partners to forge a better understanding of the mechanics when it particularly comes to technical support initiatives supported by them.

That said, a foreign expert will be considered only if no Liberian expert exists in a particular field, which is almost impossible. This crucial initiative fulfills the

“Liberian First” policy, which is a catalyst for providing more high-paying jobs for Liberians and creating a middle class in our economy.

Finally, my dear friends, our foremost leadership objective is to equip each member of the Civil Service with the essential tools, skills, and resources necessary for optimal performance in their respective roles. Through the cultivation of a culture rooted in accountability, transparency, innovation, and productivity, we aim to ignite a renewed sense of purpose and commitment within our workforce for future generations.

Thank you!

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